Sunday, June 24, 2012

Beloved Pastor Blessed by Gift from Parish

A very good friend of mine and fellow member of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy just told me some remarkable news. His parishioners chipped in and spontaneously of their own initiative collected funds so that their pastor could travel to Rome for his 35th anniversary of ordination to priesthood. He was flabbergasted by the gesture and expression of affection and appreciation for his many years of service to his people. Often, it is easy to focus and remember the few harsh words a few disgruntled parishioners may utter in moments of weakness or highly stressed situations. Sadly, the many kind words and actions of a majority of people can be temporarily forgotten or ignored since our pride likes to zero in on the negative rather than build on the positive. Envy is also the chief temptation among clergy. Favors, honors and esteem of the bishop when given to others are rarely viewed with joy for a brother.

Nevertheless, when you see something like this, which has nothing to do with ecclesiastical politics, it is indeed heart warming to say the least. I am genuinely happy for my friend just as I was with another priest friend who was recently made a Monsignor, a Knight of Malta and Vicar General in his respective diocese. It is refreshing and encouraging to see worthy people being recognized and rewarded for their love and loyalty to Holy Mother Church rather than seeing cronies being repaid for their collaboration and unconditional support of local regimes and administrations.

Sharing in the joy of someone legitimately honored is wonderful. Hope to experience more of it, soon.


Deacon Tom Lang said...

Nice post Father, but the graphic at the end is sadly unfamiliar to me! It sure seems like there are four levels of Holy Orders in some places. It's particularly difficult when, like me, you have a transitional Deacon with you for the summer who is about the parish constantly in his Roman collar and often, his cassock. What's the difference? Certainly none as we were taught in formation by both Bishop Rhoades and (now) Bishop Waltersheid. Just as so many of us like to see nuns living out the fullness of their vocation by wearing the full habit, or even at a minimum the head piece, how nice it would be if we were permitted to fully live out our vocation to the diaconate. People have asked why one deacon dresses like clergy and the other doesn't. "Is one a real deacon?" I've heard priests trying to be funny by referring to the transitional deacon as "the real deacon," but it's still hurtful. I've heard contentions that it is to avoid confusing people who think we might be priests. The same people don't think there's any chance for confusion when non-ordained first-year college seminarians come to my parish to give a talk about money for vocations while dressed in cassock and surplice with Roman collar. We run multi-million dollar businesses, we are school teachers, business people, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and have raised families. But we are judged incompetent to decide for ourselves when to wear clerics and when not to (but young, non-ordained, wet-behind-the-ears seminarians are deemed to be fully competent to do so.) It's all very demeaning, degrading, and completely senseless.

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

The Confraternity of Catholic CLERGY is one of the few associations which encourages deacons to join priests as fellow clergy. Other organizations only admit priests but the CCC affirm canon law and Sacred Tradition that deacons, be they permanent or transitional, are members of the clergy. We treat all deacons equally and as ordained brothers. We have a permanent deacon on our board of directors. We invite deacons to every local chapter meeting and national convocation. When attending our international quinquennial visit to Rome with our Australian and British brethren, we all wear Roman Collars. I personally and professionally think ordained clergy should wear clerical garb whenever on duty, be they deacons, priests or bishops. What bothers me is that despite the invitation, we do not have floods of deacons seeking membership nor attending our meetings. Fraternity is a two way street. The CCC will always have an open door to our ordained brothers whether permanent or transitional deacons or priests (diocesan or religious).

The phrase "lay deacon" is of course an oxymoron. Holy Orders makes a man a cleric. As a member of the clergy, he should be recognizable to the public as a clergyman. He is also highly encouraged to join associations and organizations faithful to the Magisterium which promote ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation in a fraternal setting and context.

I ask my ordained brothers in the Diaconate to encourage their fellow Deacons to join the CCC and to PARTICIPATE by attending our summer conference this July 31 - August 3 in Mundelein. I invite deacons and priests every month to our day of recollection and we get an equal amount of deacons and priests but we can and should have more coming.

One can also belong to the CCC and also be a member of a national association just for the Diaconate, if one so chooses. Bottom line is we priests and deacons have to work together and support each other. The Bishops have their USCCB and one suggestion for us priests and deacons is the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

Deacon Tom Lang said...

I echo the comments of Father Trigilio. The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is a wonderful organization which is very faithful to Holy Mother Church, and fully committed to building fraternity among all members of the clergy, be they bishops, priests, or deacons. They make no distinction between transitional and permanent deacons as they fully understand and recognize that there is only ONE Sacred Order of Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church! They recognize that deacons are ordained to serve the Church and seek only to collaborate with their brother priests in a joint effort to assist their bishop is serving the needs of God's holy people. They seek not to replace or usurp the function or role of the priest, but clearly understand that they have been called to the diaconate, not the presbyterate. The CCC recognizes that the men who have been ordained as permanent deacons have made and continue to make extraordinary sacrifices in their lives and in the lives of their families throughout their formation and in their diaconal Ministry on a daily basis. As such they seek merely to be treated as the clergy they have been ordained to be, to be permitted to fully live out their clear call and vocation to the diaconate, to assist their brother priests to the best of their abilities, to serve as clearly identifiable witnesses and servants of Christ, and to not be treated as fourth class (level) ordained clergy.

All deacons who are either retired from their professions/careers, or who have unlimited leave time from work (so as not to even further take away time with their families) are strongly encouraged to join together with the CCC during their monthly meetings and perhaps even attend the yearly convocations if they have they leave time and financial resources to do so. The opportunities for deacons to openly collaborate with priests are extremely limited if not wholly non-existent, and so one should consider taking advantage of the very kind invitation of the CCC.

One suggestion for the CCC would be a more personal invitation as most deacons are completely unaware of the existence of the CCC, or at the very least, what it is and the fact that they are invited to fully join. Nothing was ever presented to our class during formation about the CCC, and without knowing someone who is in the CCC, there is no way for deacons to become familiar with the CCC. Perhaps a brochure specifically directed towards deacons and the CCC should be mailed to all deacons in our diocese to educate them about this wonderful opportunity!

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