BRIDGEPORT—On a rainy day last May, I journeyed with seminarian Chris Ford on a bus trip to City Field to see the Mets take on the Toronto Blue Jays in an afternoon game. It rained all day and we watched the grounds crew every half inning pile sawdust on the infield to get the game in…it was the longest game of life and indicative of the kind of season we were in for as Met fans. This was just a couple of weeks before Chris was ordained a Transitional Deacon in the diocese and Chris and I talked about ways to help foster vocations to the Permanent Diaconate. We imagined consistent gatherings for men of faith to come to pray with one another, build community and share how they feel called to perhaps serve the Church as a deacon.
Our imaginations took on form on Thursday, October 11 at St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull with our first of monthly Diaconate Discovery Evenings. It made perfect sense to me as I drove there that it was raining and reminded me of that day last May when the concept was born, and the Holy Spirit was present in the rain that day at City Field.
One of the thoughts of inspiration that has been given to me these past months was to hold these evenings in two parishes named after the first deacons of the Church, Stephen and Philip, as I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have them by our side walking in prayer with us as we respond to Bishop Caggiano’s request to: “Build his Diaconate.” What was revealed to me on the day of the 11th was it was also the day that our Church celebrates the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council as well as Saint John XVIII. It occurred to me in that moment that it was so appropriate and never planned, to have Pope John XVIII with us also as it was his openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit that led to the Council, which led to the re-instituting of the Permanent Diaconate. It was also revealed to me by an Episcopal Deacon that in their tradition on the 11th they celebrate the Feast Day of St. Philip. Indeed the Saints were walking with us as we go forward to build the diaconate! What a Grace to experience and to be given.
So it begins. Six men gathered in prayer. Two men discerning and four deacons. We prayed and shared our experiences of our call to the diaconate. We created a safe space where the men there felt comfortable to ask questions, some that were difficult. I am confident that they felt heard by our responses and our focus not on details, not on logistics, not on programs, but on discernment and listening with their hearts to how God might be inviting into a deeper relationship with him, that perhaps might lead them both to serve as deacons in our Church. Trusting they were exactly where God wanted them to be that evening. We were all richly blessed in our time together. We were building Christian community and affirming our faith together. We closed in prayer for the Diaconate here in the Diocese of Bridgeport and trust more fully that the Spirit was indeed moving among us.
Have you ever wondered if you were being “called” to discern the diaconate? Has someone, your pastor, a priest or a deacon ever mentioned to you that they can see you as a deacon someday? Do you feel that God calling you to live your faith differently, perhaps as a deacon? Want to learn more about how to sort this all out?
Join me and explore some of these questions and others that you may have about the Diaconate. Diaconate Discovery Evenings will be a consistent space to wonder, explore, pray and share with other men of faith regarding serving the Church as a Permanent Deacon.
- Be with other men of faith who are wondering if God is calling them to serve as a deacon.
- To have an opportunity for prayer and reflection.
- To form relationships and build community.
- Meet deacons from around the diocese witnessing their ministries and journeys of faith.
If you are interested in attending a Diaconate Discovery Evening, or have any questions, please feel free to contact Deacon Tim Bolton, Coordinator of Diaconate Vocations, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Deacon Tim Bolton