Tag Archives: permanent deacons

Demystifying the Deacon

As a “new” clerical office, the Diaconate will confound the laity for years to come. And while deacons can look back with much pride to our “call to service” in Acts 6, many parishioners look to the law of the Church when searching for explanations about the role of deacons… what they can and can’t do.


Canon 764 on “deacons and preaching”

The Deacons’ Place Forum recently shared a helpful link about the deacon’s role according to Canon Law. The link to What Can (and Can’t ) a Deacon Do? is from the Canon Law Made Easy blog, written by Cathy Caridi, J.C.I. an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome.

You might find this helpful in discussions with those still unfamiliar with our Diakonos… our call to charity among God’s people. In the end, only our humble example of service will truly tell the story.

What Can (and Can’t ) a Deacon Do?:

The Face of War

In the Aleppo souq, inside the ancient old walls of the city, four children enter an apartment with their mother.

In the Aleppo souq, inside the ancient old walls of the city, four children enter an apartment with their mother.

Our time in Syria, spring of 2011 was, without a second thought, an unequaled exploration of country, culture, religions and people. The Syrian people… welcoming, ever-inquisitive, generous… revealed to us the true face of this nation.  Daily as I reflect back, I see those faces knowing that they are the face of this war; a war dubbed a civil war… a war that illustrates the inhumanity of man and the cold, cruel heart of a regime desperate to maintain power.

Today, on the eve of Pope Francis’ worldwide appeal for a day dedicated to peace in Syria, I ask all to join us:

Next Saturday [September 7, 2013] we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and in the whole world. Also for peace in our hearts, because peace begins in the heart! I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely and, right now, I express my gratitude to the other Christian brothers, to the brothers of other religions and to men and women of good will who wish to join us, in the places and ways proper to them, for this moment. I exhort in particular the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the Vigil of Prayer here, in St. Peter’s Square, at 7:00 pm to invoke from the Lord the great gift of peace. May the cry for peace be raised strongly throughout the earth!

(Pope Francis, in Rome at the conclusion of his General Audience 4 Wed 2013.)

For more information on the 7 SEP 2013 Day of Prayer & Fasting for Peace , follow this link:  On the Plea for Peace | ZENIT – The World Seen From Rome http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-plea-for-peace

Also, considering acting in accord with Pax Christi:  Advocate and act to stop military intervention in Syria! http://conta.cc/1dJYeLJ or on Twitter via #constantcontact.

Finally, from Bishop Cunningham, a pdf containing additional information:  Day of Fasting and Prayer

(Photo Credit:  My wife, Linda, snapped this photo in the alley way as we walked backed to our small hotel in the Aleppo Souq. The children paused for just a moment when we greeted them.  As a woman, Linda’s ability to capture an image like this was possible. The Arab women often turned away from my camera.)

At the epicenter…

NOTE: In November 2008 Deacon Greg Cross began an active ministry with their twinned church, Immaculate Conception Parish in Haiti.  We asked Dc. Greg to share a bit on how his ministry began and the developments since last week’s earthquake.  This post begins with a few excerpts from his notes while on mission.

Dc. Tim McNerney, Webmaster

Looking Back:

November 13-14, 2008 – We arrived in Haiti, then traveled the mountain ranges 35KM from Port-au-Prince to Chauffard, Haiti with Fr. Julien from Immaculate Conception Parish.  Roads are comprised of two elements:  rocks and ruts!

November 15-17, 2008We continue our fact-finding mission in Haiti, detailing the incredible need that his mountain village of 1,500 people has for food, medical, education and spiritual support.

Field Notes:

– Regroup committee to determine augmented programs St. Michael & St. Peter can provide.
– Try to purchase batteries for solar power storage asap; perhaps a small refrigerator also.
– Establish interest in annual or more frequent visits
– Send e-photos taken and mail printed photos of students

November 4-10, 2009Three MD’s, three nurses, my two daughters, Emily and Catherine, and I arrive back in Chauffard, Haiti to setup an on-site medical clinic for the residents, many of whom have never seen professional medical practitioners in their lifetimes!  Because shipping to Haiti is so problematic, the team hand carries all medical supplies on-board the planes to Haiti.  The medical supplies where made possible by the generous donations from St. Michael & St. Peter parishes in Syracuse, NY.


Our news from Chauffard, Haiti (the epicenter) is mixed.  Thankfully, our pastor survived as did our main church, school, and rectory.  However, two of our mission churches were totally destroyed, and three were severely damaged.  The death toll is unknown yet.  We understand there are likely to be many homeless also.

In Port-au-Prince, Matthew 25 House and its resident missionaries are all fine; they are operating an emergency medical clinic  and shelter out of the house.  Our young interpreters from our November mission are also fine, although one’s home collapsed around her in the quake.  She said she felt God carried her outside the house to safety.

I am hoping to go to Chauffard next month to find out more and to adjust plans for how we help them in light of all this.  In the meantime, we keep them all in our prayers, and we can send money to meet the incredible need there.

Anyone wishing to contribute to our mission church in Chauffard Haiti may do so by sending checks to: St. Michael & St. Peter Church – Haiti Mission, 4782 W Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215.

Greg Cross

Staying in True…

“Staying in true”.  What do those three words mean?  Well, to a serious cyclist, it means well-tuned spokes, a solid wheel rim and a wheel that runs straight and true on a speedy downhill descent!  In reflecting upon the call to vocation cycling_fastexpressed in both the Hebrew Scripture reading from the prophet Amos, and also the Gospel of Mark on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I presented how we respond to that call by describing it within the context of a bicycle wheel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 was my first opportunity to serve with Fr. Ralph Bove, our newly appointed parish administrator for both St. Bartholomew the Apostle and St. Paul Churches in Norwich, N.Y.  I felt a bit apprehensive about bringing in a “prop” for my homily:  the high-tech 27″ road bike wheel from my Lemond Zurich cycle. However, the wheel was just the right touch to bring home the point to our parishioners.

Like to hear an audio recording of my homily:  “Staying in True”?  Follow the link below to the Homilies page.  And let me know what you think!
AUDIO HOMILY LINK: Staying in True

Dc. Tim McNerneysignature-fname.thumbnail


The afternoon had been advertised as:  an “Afternoon of Prayer & Sharing at Christ the King Retreat House” and an opportunity to enjoy a light lunch with Bishop Cunningham on Saturday, June 27th at 1:00PM.  The gathering was just one of many that our Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham had been holding with groups throughout the diocese since his installation as bishop.  I was looking forward to seeing so many of my brother deacons and their wives.  However, I never expected to plumb the essence of ministerial  perfection…


St. Gregory of Nyssa

Our gathering opened with an LOH daytime prayer variation:  psalm, short reading and then comments from Bishop Cunningham.  His remarks were complimentary–thanking the Deacon Community for their ministry of Word & Charity, commending our wives for their support and service, as well.  However, the heart of his address focused on maintaining our healthy relationship with Jesus Christ–particularly through daily prayer and recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.  In essence, Bishop Cunningham asserted, “Christ should be manifest in our whole life.”

On reflection later that day, my thoughts turned to Saint Gregory of Nyssa’s treatise on Christian Perfection in Tuesday’s (12th Week in Ordinary Time) Office of Readings:

The life of the Christian has three distinguishing aspects:  deeds, words and thought. [..] So when one of these results in our acting or speaking or thinking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words and deeds are controlled by the divine ideal, the revelation of Christ. For then our thoughts, words and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications.

Yes, the life of the ordained minister is challenged at every turn. However, if we maintain a healthy, vital relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we possess the “divine ideal”, touching “The mind of Christ [..] that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behavior.” (PG 46, 283-286)

Relationship: in our parish families, among our lay and ordained ministers… but most importantly with our Lord himself.  A timely reminder from the new shepherd of our diocese;  a reminder most certainly grounded in his experience and the wisdom of our Church Fathers; a powerful reminder on the essence of Christian perfection…

What a difference a year makes …


Bishop Robert J. Cunningham (2007)

At this time last year I was both looking forward to my ordination with great anticipation… and wondering just what the future as an ordained member of the clergy would hold.  This morning at 6:08AM when my iPod popped up a message from Danielle E. Cummings, Diocesan Director of Communications, announcing the appointment of the Most Reverend Robert J. Cunningham as the next bishop of our diocese , effective May 26, 2009, I wondered once again about that future.  My first thought:  where do Permanent Deacons fit into Bishop Cunningham’s vision of the future for the Diocese of Syracuse? Our present bishop, James Moynihan, has been a solid supporter of the diaconate.  But what of the new leader of the diocese?

A bit of research yielded some indications.  According to the Summer 2005 Region II  Permanent Deacon News, “After the spring of 2004 and the installation of Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, the diocese developed and began to implement a new program.” of diaconate formation. The diocese had just come off a two year hiatus without a program after the closure of the Wadhams Hall Seminary College in Ogdensburg. The new program, heavily invested in on-line instruction through Notre Dame’s STEP program (Satellite Theological Education Program), has prepared over a dozen men for ordination.

The diocesan efforts have paid off, with 13 men to be ordained to the (deaconformationrequest_march2009) permanent diaconate on September 19, 2009, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg, New York.  A bright future for the diaconate in this north country diocese…  and a sign of support from the new bishop designate.

Indeed, what a difference a year makes!
LIKE TO KNOW MORE? Press Release, Diocese of Syracuse