A Legacy of Diakonia – Permanent Deacons of Calgary

Deacon Stephen Robinson

The way the story is told, new Calgary Bishop Henry called two special people into his office. One was a priest who may have had a right to ask if he had earned retirement consideration. The other was the Chancellor of the Diocese. Bishop Henry commissioned Fr. Bill Trienekens and Sr. Maria Nakagawa to begin a diaconate program immediately. There was no way he was going to allow sentiment against the idea develop.

Fr. Bill and Sr. Maria asked him for a year to research what other dioceses had been doing to form deacons. He answered that, they could do all the research they wanted, but the diaconate formation process was to begin right away.

Since then, more than 50 permanent deacons have been ordained in the Diocese of Calgary. This is a legacy which has served the Calgary diocesan church since the first 12 were ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral 15 years ago. Three of our deacons had been previously ordained in other dioceses.

In a contradiction to the idea that deacons might undermine the priesthood, pastors started to ask Bishop Henry when one could be assigned to their parish.

Bishop Henry has always affirmed that the diaconate should not compromise marriages and families. We are grateful for so many gifts.

St. Paul tells Timothy, his co-worker in faith, that deacons “must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” [1 Tim. 3:9]. If we have been able to accomplish this to any extent, it has been inspired by the Apostolic witness of Bishop Henry who has shown himself “worthy of the calling to which (he) has been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience… and love” [Eph 4:1-2]. For this witness, we will always have hearts full of gratitude.

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