An Ecumenical Gathering of Deacons

 on December 5, 2023

On Saturday, Oct. 14, the deacons of this diocese spent a day with Roman Catholic deacons from the Diocese of St. Catharines. This was the third such gathering since 2012. Last spring, I contacted the director of deacons for the Diocese of St. Catharines, the Reverend Deacon Frank Berardi about having a day this year. Deacon Sheila Plant and I then had two meetings with Frank and a day was arranged.

There were 12 of us who met at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Grimsby. There were four Roman Catholics deacons, seven Anglican deacons, and Reverend Tom Vaughan, chaplain to the college of deacons in our diocese. Following the mandatory coffee and muffins, we were welcomed by the parish priest, Father Rico Passero. Frank led us in morning prayer. Greetings from both bishops were given. I then proceeded to describe some aspects of the Anglican polity and the process for becoming a deacon in Niagara. Frank followed with a detailed version of the very rigorous scheme of the Diocese of St. Catharines. Many questions followed each presentation. There is one real aspect that is common to both processes, the final decision is up to the bishop of each diocese.

Deacons Sheila Plant and Jean Ruttan Yates made a presentation about ministry to the sick and hospital ministry. Deacon Frank Pavoine followed with a prospective of a Roman Catholic deacon. There was much discussion as we talked about issues such as palliative care, abortion, and medical assistance in dying. A central theme was the need to be present to someone who is ill.

After lunch Deacons Sandra Thomson and Mark McGill gave a presentation about ministry to people experiencing homelessness. Deacon Tom Dillon a Roman Catholic deacon, then added how he persuaded his parish to become involved in some of the programs in Welland along with Mark. A lot of discussion followed.

We concluded with a reflection on the day from Reverend Tom and evening prayer lead by Deacons Nancy McBride and Sheila Plant.

We all were enriched by the sharing and understood we have much more in common then what separates us. God willing, we all hope we will gather together again in a few years.

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