My experience at the Jubilee
My experience at the celebration meeting for the 50 years of the creation of the International Centre of the diaconate, held in Rome and Assisi
Between 19th and 25th October, I was invited to participate in the meeting of celebration for the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate and the creation of the International Centre of the diaconate, IDC, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. This encounter took place in the House “Fraterna Domus”, in Rome and in the city of Assisi.
At Fraterna Domus, I stayed at Tabor House; there, I was allowed to enjoy a nice rest, after the multiple activities carried out during this Jubilee.
As for the content, the main topic of the meeting was past, present and future of the permanent diaconate, throughout our Church, which is inserted and acting in all continents.
In terms of the past of the diaconate, we were able to visit the Church of San Lawrence Deacon and St. Stephen Deacon, both brave martyrs of the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the first centuries of Christianity. We could also learn about the life and spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, Deacon, who loved poverty, imitating the way of Jesus, the good Shepherd, who came to serve and not be served. This contact with the past helped us to appreciate the gifts of service and predilection to the poorest, which the Holy Spirit raised at the beginning of our Christian faith and that knew how to confront the powerful Empire of that time, which persecuted those who professed their faith in Jesus Christ.
In relation to the present of the diaconate, we could share in groups, formed by official languages, our gaze on the strengths and weaknesses, of progress and of difficulties, which we experience as deacons, in our respective realities. In the group of Spanish language, in which participated more than twenty people, from Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Rome, in conclusion we pointed out that it is very important to promote a permanent formation, for bishops, priests and deacons, according to the model of a Church of communion and service, participation and ministries, which the Second Vatican Council showed us to evangelize and serve in today’s world.
We could share liturgical celebrations, Lauds and Vespers, as well as the Eucharist, with our brothers, deacons and their wives, with Bishops and priests, from countries such as Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, United States, Australia, Canada, India, Cuba, Argentina, Bolivia and other nationalities. It was a lesson of universality and of fraternal dialogue, support, knowledge, humor, songs and hope, which helped us to charge the batteries, to continue serving in our respective pastoral units, parishes, schools, universities, and at the various borders of countries and dioceses, where we are committed, insert and incardinated. The Prizes – which the IDC offered –given to various projects in which permanent deacons and their families provided a valuable service and fraternal support, for the promotion of the poorest, also helped us to think in developing new projects, for new times. Sharing life and hopes daily helped us to appreciate the present and to think together about new horizons and possibilities.
Plural everyday life of solidarity and love, joy and peace, was a real balm for our souls. We could understand, and encourage, beyond words and language, and that is great.
As for the future of the diaconate, were very valuable some speeches and conferences of experts on diaconate in different latitudes, and the testimonies of men and women, shepherds and shepherdesses, even from other Christian churches, which made us think that the diaconate cannot remain locked up in the temples, but (in the words of the Pope Francis) Deacons are “ambassadors of Christ” incarnated, missionaries in the world. Or that the permanent diaconate, which is oriented to the service, not the priesthood, could also be directed to women, since they – many times – are more committed than men, in various service duties and difficult missions in our Church. May God help us in this path, to be bridges between the Church and our societies, between the Gospel and the secular and pluralistic culture of present times.
We also had time to participate in the General audience of Pope Francis, in Saint Peter Square, at the Vatican, time to know the city of Rome and visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the walls, in which two diaconal couples, from Colombia and Hong Kong, were able to share their stories and testimonies of love in Christ, their problems and difficulties, and commitment to evangelize and the service performed in their respective countries.
I thank God for this possibility of having participated in this international Encounter of permanent deacons, which was a real celebration, a party, in prayer and in life, with brothers and sisters from all continents of the world.
Many thanks to the IDC that, generously – invited me to this Jubilee in Rome and Assisi; I appreciate it wholeheartedly. May God bless Klaus, Stefan, Montserrat and all the members of the IDC Board, who work, day by day, so that the Deacons may be what must be and do in the world and so that we are more united, without fear, with great joy and hope, since the Holy Spirit (which encourages the whole Church) makes all things new.
Being the only permanent deacon of Chile, who was able to attend this meeting, I feel humble and happy to have been able to represent – somehow – the more than 1,100 permanent deacons from all the dioceses of my country. At the end of this writing, I invite all my brothers, permanent deacons, to become members of the International Centre of the diaconate, IDC, so that – together – and in communion with our respective bishops, we grow in collegiality, to strengthen our personality of servers, our Ministry as ambassadors of Christ, in the new frontiers of the world.
I am happy, Lord, very happy!
Miguel Angel Herrera Parra, permanent deacon, parish Saint Alberto Hurtado, Santiago de Chile