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06/25/2004
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Four permanent deacons ordained June 12 for the diocese
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Four permanent deacons ordained June 12 for the diocese
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor

0625Deacons.jpg
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
Bishop Raymond J. Boland offers the Prayer of Consecration before newly ordained Deacons Richard Akins, Kenneth Albers, Steven Carter and Michael Peterson.
KANSAS CITY - Vatican II's restoration of the permanent diaconate is a sign of the Roman Catholic Church's willingness to change to better serve people, Bishop Raymond J. Boland said June 12 at the ordination of four deacons.

Deacons Richard M. Akins, Kenneth R. Albers, Steven P. Carter and Michael L. Peterson were ordained before a crowd that nearly filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The diaconate ordination also marked the first time in a quarter of a century that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has witnessed the administration of all three levels of Holy Orders in the same year, beginning with the May 3 ordination of Coadjutor Bishop Robert W. Finn and continuing with the June 4 priestly ordinations of Father Shawn Ratigan and Father Joseph Totton.

"This is the season of ordinations in this diocese," Bishop Boland said as the liturgy began. "We're on a roll."

Bishop Boland reminded the crowd that when the middle-aged deacon candidates were born, the vocation to the permanent diaconate was not an option.

The office was not restored until the Second Vatican Council, he reminded the congregation.

"It demonstrates how the church is a spirit-guided dynamic community, constantly re-inventing itself to serve the pastoral needs of its people," Bishop Boland said.

Bishop Boland said deacons, who can be married, perform a variety of liturgical and charitable services.

"The restored permanent diaconate has been a boon to the church in the United States, which is privileged to number more deacons than all the other nations combined," he said.

Through the Scripture readings of the day, Bishop Boland said, the call to the diaconate is made clear, as well as the promise God makes to equip those called to all ministries with the gifts to perform them.

The first reading, he said, recalled how the prophet Jeremiah protested that he was too young and too inarticulate to be the prophet God called him to be. Those feelings are natural, Bishop Boland said.

"It is only natural that a certain apprehension is common when one is called to represent the Lord," the bishop said. "If our four candidates are nervous, then I can only repeat the guarantee that God gave the vacillating Jeremiah: 'Have no fear because I am with you. I will place my words in your mouth.'"

In the day's second reading, Paul told the Romans that everyone's gift is both different and necessary.

"God, he explains, has given each person a role to play which is measured out by God's gifts and the office to which one is called," Bishop Boland said.

"In the best of all possible worlds, the church should operate like a well-oiled machine - each part paying great attention to its own role while at the same time fully cooperating with all others," he said. "Anything less is usually a recipe for chaos."

The Gospel from Matthew, which was proclaimed that day by Deacon Daniel Peterson of the Diocese of Phoenix who is the brother of Michael Peterson, stressed the need for humility in service to others, Bishop Boland said.

"Even though we may have different roles to play and even though some roles may be more important than others, we must not allow our importance to go to our heads," Bishop Boland said, noting that in the Gospel Jesus effectively put his disciples in their place.

"Jesus noted something that disturbed him and he summoned his disciples for a little conversation: 'You must not lord it over others like others in authority do,'" the bishop said.

"He prescribed a servanthood of service and he suggested himself as the appropriate role model - the Son of God who came to give his life for others, to serve and not to be served, a concept which is of the essence of the diaconate," Bishop Boland said.

At the close of the liturgical celebration, Bishop Finn also offered his congratulations and encouragement to the newly ordained deacons.

"We pray that the grace of the Holy Spirit manifested here will always grow stronger in your heart," he said.

Recalling a story attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, Bishop Finn advised the new deacons to "preach constantly and use words when necessary."

"The Holy Spirit has entrusted you with the words of the Gospel," he said, urging them to "carry them out in service to people."

"Whatever we do and are asked to do," Bishop Finn said, "should never be regarded as beneath us."

In addition to assigning them to liturgical duties, Bishop Boland also assigned the four new deacons to specific ministries outside their parish work.

Deacon Akins, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Lee's Summit, was assigned to ministry with the Diocesan Ministry With Persons With Disabilities.

Deacon Albers, a member of St. John Francis Regis Parish in Kansas City, was assigned to ministry with the Venture Scout Crew 2553 for the developmentally impaired men of the Community of the Good Shepherd in Kansas City, and as chaplain to the inmates at the Municipal Correctional Institution in Kansas City.

Deacon Carter, a member of Holy Rosary Parish in Clinton, was assigned to develop a literacy program and ministry for inmates at the Henry County Detention Center.

Deacon Peterson, a member of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish in Lee's Summit, was assigned to develop a chaplaincy program for firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and arson investigators in Lee's Summit. END


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