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Maryknoll collaborates with U. S. Deacons in mission


A ground-breaking gathering of twelve U.S. deacons, their wives and the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, took place In January at the home of Maryknoll in Ossining, New York. The four-day gathering had been in the making for over a year. Deacon Mike Berstene, Diaconate Director for the Norwich, Connecticut Diocese described the evolution of the idea using words from the U.S Bishops’ description of “mission” for deacons. He said the documents remind us that “the Sacred Order of Deacons is to be a driving force for the Church’s service.” Deacon Mike drew from the Church documents to emphasize that “reaching out is what deacons are called to do.” Father Peter Lejacq, M.M. of Maryknoll, agreed that this was a meeting meant to happen. “At Maryknoll we have been reflecting on how to further energize our call to mission,” Fr. Lejacq stated. “Engaging deacons seems a natural part of our renewal.” Prior to the meeting, Maryknoll engaged Father Roger Schroeder, S.V.D. of the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago and holder of the Maryknoll Chair at CTU, to bring together a concise guide for mission in the context of the Catholic Church. A key message delivered by Fr. Schroeder was that Christ left us “a mission which happens to have a Church.” It is not the other way around. He observed that Maryknoll and the deacons share a commitment to Christ’s mission that forms a natural partnership. As a result of the weekend, each of the deacons was afforded an opportunity to personally dedicate part of their diaconal service to Maryknoll’s work. The twelve deacons and their wives left Ossining committed as “Men and Women of the Diaconate” to mission. Frances Krupka, wife of Gaylord Deacon Jim Krupka, was deeply touched by the gathering saying, “This weekend changed my life. The openness, enthusiasm and commitment of the Maryknoll missioners gave me the added purpose and direction to be a better Christian.” Deacon Larry Hart of the Jacksonville Florida Diocese added, “I’m a little scared. I see the immensity of mission but I’m not sure exactly what each step will demand from me.” Deacon Steve DeMartino, from the vocations office of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers noted, “This is just the beginning. The possibilities are significant. We need only to remember how Maryknoll got started. It was two men with a vision of mission.” Deacon Matt Dulka, the Maryknoll Director of Mission Education and Promotion on the West Coast concluded, “We have the seeds. Now it’s time to grow and bear fruit. Driven by the Spirit, we will look back on this gathering as monumental event in the American Church.”

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