ROME (CNS) – Thousands of permanent deacons and their wives began their Year of Mercy celebration by cutting straight to the heart of what it means to be a deacon, how the ministry impacts their families and the challenge of explaining their vocation to others, including bishops and priests.
The pilgrims divided into language groups and hundreds of English-, German- and Portuguese-speaking deacons and their families gathered May 27 at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.
Deacon Greg Kandra, a popular blogger who serves at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills, focused on the ministry of deacons in the workplace.
A deacon is a deacon no matter where he is, Deacon Kandra said. He is called by the church to be on the “front line,” wherever he is.
“The deacon is called to be a witness to compassion,” helping those who are hungry or poor, whether materially or spiritually. “They might work in the cubicle next to yours,” he said.
As a witness to the dignity of work, Deacon Kandra said, the deacon is called to stand up for just wages and decent working conditions, but also to improve the workplace environment by “quieting gossip,” listening to grievances, speaking up for those without a voice.
“Some of the most important missionary activity in the world today may begin in unlikely places, not in a jungle or desert of some far-off country, but around the water cooler, or on a bus, or over coffee in the company cafeteria,” he said.
His remarks led to a ripple of agreement around the basilica.
“What began on the altar on Sunday,” Deacon Kandra said, “continues in the world and in the workplace on Monday.”
The Jubilee of Deacons concluded on Sunday, May 29, with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.