Propaedeutic Year for Permanent Diaconate
30th October, 2021
Nano Nagle Centre, Ballygriffin
Celebrant: Bishop William Crean
“Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of light at the window….
Every beginning is a promise
Born in light and dying
determination and exaltation of Springtime
flowering the way to work…
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
Something that will not acknowledge conclusion
Insists that we forever begin”.
You may recognise these lines as coming from the pen of Brendan Kenneally, poet, who died recently.
When Listowel Writers’ Week honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award a few years ago this of all his output was the poem he chose to recite and recite of course as only he could – with the precision of voice and emphasis that brought it to life.
The enterprise that is living insists and requires that we begin again. I quote the lines as an inspiration for all of us as we gather for this new beginning. I quote it especially for its final lines.
“Though we live in a world that dreams of ending, that always seems to give in Something that will not acknowledge conclusion insists that we forever begin”.
While God finds no mention in word that is a wonderful expression of faith and hope – with which this day is marked.
On behalf of my brother bishops, I thank you for your yes to this adventure in faith and hope.
A Propaedeutic Year is a fancy name but its purpose is clear – it is a mutual exploration to see if the Permanent Diaconate is for you and your family at this time. It is an opportunity for discernment of the call to service in the Diaconate. Discernment is itself a pattern or style of reflection and decision that has the Holy Spirit as a guarantor of our being on the right path. This discernment will be both personal and communal – because all ministry and service finds its context in community – among people.
Over these coming months you will hear a great deal about Synod, Synodality and Synodal Pathway through which you will come to appreciate the discernment process by experience.
Cultural Milieu – It is now almost 60 years since Vatican II convened, 11th October 1962 – personal memory. One of its key documents focus was on the place and voice of “The Church in the Modern World” – “Lumen Gentium”. It spoke especially of reading “the signs of the times”. Another document in a sense answered the question by its title “Gaudium et Spes” Joy and Hope. Despite all the ups and downs of the last 60 years that remains the mission of the Church
Lumen Gentium – Light to the Nations
Gaudium et Spes – Joy and Hope
As a member of the Church, you are already part of that mission to humanity. The Permanent Diaconate offers a more formal role in that mission.
As you embrace the work of this year – you must also have an eye to the reality of mission in the 21st century Ireland. Ours is a much-changed country – sweeping social, technological and economic development has changed the context for those who seek to bring the Good News of the Gospel to contemporary Ireland.
I read a brief interview with Tommy Fleming the singer and when asked did he pray – he replied honestly. He has faith but no religion. He drifted away from it a long time ago. He has a photo of his parents by his bedside and he talks to them. There are countless others like him who consider religion as irrelevant
On Wednesday last I heard an interview on the Last Word with Matt Cooper – a particular statistic stood out – 53% of our population has 3rd Level Education of which so many are spiritual but not religious. So from what wells do we drink now? The encounter of the woman with Jesus at the well in St. John’s Gospel left her desiring the water that wells up to eternal life.
Yet for all the drift and seeming indifference there is a search in the minds and hearts of many young people. Young people of deep faith in the Lord and who desire to belong to a community of disciples who put their trust in God, in the Lord Jesus and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in life. Sothere are grounds for hope, for a new beginning, grounds to begin again. “Every beginning is a promise born in light and dying determination and exaltation of Springtime flowering the way to work”.
Ministry in the coming decades in Ireland will require a resilient optimism and hope which will enable us to remain calm and confident knowing the Lord is among us, that relying on his Holy Spirit as guide we together may give fresh heart to the disciples so that the Church can continue in our Irish context be Lumen Gentium – Gaudium et Spes – Light to the Peoples – a well of Joy and Hope.