The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

What is the “mind of the Church”?

sgw.jpg Good question, and it’s something every deacon should ponder.  But Deacon Bill Ditewig has an anecdote that speaks volumes:

One day, as I was leaving the building, I encountered one of our bishops waiting for a taxi. He had been in town for some meetings and was returning home to his diocese. As we were chatting, I asked how he was doing, because he looked very tired and run down. He shared with me how tough things were in his diocese: strategic planning which would be resulting in parish closures and mergers (never popular decisions), financial troubles which would probably end in his having to declare bankruptcy [eventually, that’s what happened], and most disturbing of all, his Vicar General had called to tell him that several more cases of abuse had surfaced, cases that bishop had not known about. All of this was combining to make the problems facing the bishop almost insurmountable.


I asked him if there was anything at all we could do to help him; we agreed that prayer for all was what was needed. His cab arrived and we prepared to go our separate ways. Just as he was about to step into the cab, the bishop stopped and asked if I was still traveling around the country speaking to groups of deacons and priests. I answered that I was. He then told me the following story, and asked me to share it with the deacons of the country.

It seems that just before he’d left for Washington, and after a particularly rough day trying to address the problems we’d been talking about, he received a call from the head of his deacons’ council, requesting a meeting as early as possible. The message said that he really need to talk the bishop about some concerns raised at the most recent meeting of the deacon council.


The bishop agreed, and he said that as he thought about it, he got more excited. Among the deacons of the diocese were accountants, businessmen, lawyers, teachers, farmers, and so on. Almost all were family men. He got thinking that his deacons, all experienced men, had perhaps come up with some strategies or ideas about all of the problems facing the church. Maybe his deacons had come up with some ideas that his other advisors had not — after all, isn’t that what deacons are supposed to do?

The next day, the deacon came in early and they got down to it. The bishop said he could hardly contain his excitement. The deacon told the bishop that the deacons had gathered and that after the meeting they wanted the head of the council to get to the bishop to convey their most serious concern. What was it? The #1 concern of the deacons of the diocese was the fact that deacons were not permitted to wear Roman collars in the diocese.

Flabbergasted?  Read the rest.

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Your Name

posted December 5, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Perhaps, deacons are not considered by most bishops to be part of the “Brotherhood”, and therefore, don’t offer suggestions and advice because, once too often, they were put in their place. Deacons are often not consulted by their bishops, especially about the problems that have emerged around the sexual abuse crisis. This is unfortunate, because deacons, (most of them) are husbands and fathers, and because of their place in the world of work and community, have unique and valuable perspective to bring to the table.

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Your Name

posted December 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

By the way, I purposely did not put my name on the above post, because my husband, (a deacon) has gotten in trouble for posting his opinions about what the bishops should do about the clergy sexual abuse crisis. In his words, “Sometimes it’s like working for the CIA.”.

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posted December 6, 2010 at 12:41 am

Perhaps if you get too close to the real world you lose face in the RCC. Just speculating.

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posted December 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

Your Name
There is a great deal of truth and wisdom in your remarks.
For your information, there are about a dozen or so deacons across the country (many of whom post on this blog) who correspond on-line to discuss just these types of issues. More than a few of them are long-time deacons (20 years plus); more than a few of them have earned doctorates; more than a few of them are — or have been involved — in the diaconal formation programs in their own dioceses; more than a few of them have been “on-the-outs” with various members of the episcopacy at various times in their careers.
The issue that draws these men is both their love of the Risen Lord Jesus and their love of the Church. Their theologies have occasionally been challenged but never their integrity.

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ron chandonia

posted December 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

Even though there is much truth to the point that bishops don’t see their deacons as full members of the clerical club, I think there’s more to be said about Deacon Bill Ditewig’s anecdote. For quite a while, I’ve followed an online discussion list for deacons worldwide, and the one issue that seems to generate the most interest is clerical dress. The only time service to others comes up as a big issue is in connection with the theory that the diaconate is not primarily about service anyway.
I tell the candidates I teach that “thinking with the Church” does not mean correctly reading the tea leaves at the Vatican or the local chancery. It means thinking with the mind of Christ himself, especially in his concern for people on the margins, people in need. It means adopting the “preferential option for the poor” as your own priority. If the reawakened diaconate is to live up to its potential in the revitalization of the Catholic Church, we need to form deacons with that mindset–and I believe that is Deacon Ditewig’s point.

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Deacon Norb

posted December 6, 2010 at 11:39 am

Thank you for your posting but especially for that last paragraph.
Keep posting both in Greg’s new home and with Bill.

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Bankruptcy Attorney Denver

posted September 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Everything published made a lot of sense. However, what
about this? suppose you added a little information? I
ain’t saying your information isn’t good, but suppose you added a post title to maybe get
folk’s attention? I mean What is the

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posted September 24, 2014 at 3:18 am

It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before end I am
reading this wonderful paragraph to increase my experience.

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