VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has appointed six men and six women to a commission to study the issue of women deacons, particularly their ministry in the early church.
Much ado followed a recent impromptu promise by Pope Francis to study the role of women deacons in Church history. His simple pledge to convene a commission to look into what Francis called an “obscure” historical question was widely — and wildly — interpreted as a thumbs up for a female diaconate.
Pope Francis on Sunday told Deacons from across the globe that they must be generous with their lives and with their time.
VATICAN CITY – Deacons are called to be servants who set aside their own self-serving plans and are generous with their lives, Pope Francis said.
Does anybody today believe men are intellectually superior to women because of their gender? The question is not about the intelligence of an individual man or woman, but collectively. Simply put: if you have the Y chromosome does it make you smarter?
An exclusive focus on whether or not women might be ordained deacons misses the real point of the conversation Pope Francis had with leaders of 900 orders of nuns May 12 at the Vatican, said a Canadian sister who was present for the gathering.
VATICAN CITY – Catholic sisters globally would be better-equipped to carry out their work if they could become deacons, the head of a global network of nuns has said, an important marker in the sharp debate over women deacons that Pope Francis opened last week.
PULASKI, Wis. – When David Parker informed his eldest child, Legionary Brother David Parker Jr., that he was pursuing the diaconate again, the son had a question for his father: "How many years do you have in formation?"
VATICAN CITY – After some news outlets reported the Pope was considering ordaining women deacons and comments were made about women deacons leading to women priests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi clarified the Pope’s comments May 13.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis told the heads of women's religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level.
TORONTO – If a woman comes down the aisle carrying the book of the Gospels, and if she later stands at the ambo to read the Gospel and preach on it, would your parish cease to be Catholic?
SASKATOON - Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen is accepting the recommendation of a 12-member committee to move ahead with a permanent diaconate program for the Prairie diocese.
TORONTO - When Barbara and Stephen Barringer decided to announce to their children that he would be working towards becoming a deacon, their son’s immediate comment was, “Oh wonderful. Dad’s always been great at preaching and now they’re going to give him a licence!”
TORONTO - There’s no denying that Deacon Kevin Brockerville is a communicator.
When he talks about his wife, he smiles wide. When asked how he balances family and his deacon responsibilities, he jokes about having two ropes tied around his neck, eyes lighting up in laughter. And when he describes the people who have helped him throughout his life, his emotion is clear.
And he communicates all of this while being deaf.
Not able to hear since age three, Brockerville credits his faith with moving him forward. And it all started with a teacher in his hometown in Newfoundland.
“She would always take me to the church,” Brockerville said through an interpreter. “I didn’t really understand what church was. I would sit there and see people kneeling and praying but I didn’t know what that was.”
It was this teacher who also made sure Brockerville received the proper education.
“She found where the school for the deaf was that I could go to,” he said.
The school was in Halifax, and moving there for Brockerville was a necessary step in his spiritual journey.
“There I started understanding,” he said. “They taught religion, so I got the idea about my faith. It’s a struggle for the deaf to understand religion but I’m very happy that I had the education that helped me.”
Brockerville moved back to Newfoundland after school, and met a missionary priest from the United States who could sign.
“My mouth was wide open, I was so shocked,” Brockerville said. “‘You mean there’s a priest that can sign?’ It really inspired my wanting to serve. He’s a priest and he’s serving us.”
By the end of the 1960s, then with a wife, Gertrude, who is hearing impaired but not deaf, and his first child, Brockerville moved to Toronto for work and started attending Holy Name Church at Pape and Danforth, where the deaf ministry in Toronto gathered at the time.
“Everyone was signing and the priest was signing,” Brockerville said. “Wow, it was so powerful to me to see that everyone would come.”
The ministry has since moved to St. Stephen’s Chapel in downtown Toronto, where Brockerville serves as a deacon.
“I just felt that God was calling me to serve the deaf people,” he said about his decision to join the diaconate.
But he described his studies — culminating in his ordination in 1984 — as a “real struggle.”
“I was the only deaf person,” Brockerville said. “It was harder (for me) than (for) the hearing people because I had a hard time understanding the language.”
Brockerville explained this is a common thread for all deaf people in grasping theology, and said homilies have to be very simple when signing.
In the end, though, he made his way through the four years of diaconate study.
“I kept listening with my eyes. I kept watching,” he said. “I know that I struggled. But I had to trust God and I trust Him.”
Today, there are four locations for the deaf ministry in the archdiocese of Toronto: in Toronto, Barrie, Oshawa and Mississauga. Brockerville, who spends his time at the downtown Toronto location, is the only deaf deacon, and so has much responsibility, not only with serving at Mass and giving homilies, but also in helping deaf people with further interpretation of the services.
“Some of the deaf have questions about their faith, and if they’re studying something or reading something, I help them,” Brockerville said.
But this man — who said above his responsibilities in the diaconate and in the deaf ministry is his responsibility to his family — is anything but boastful.
“I don’t look for rewards, I look to serve,” he said. “I just follow the faith. I’m here to serve and I serve the best way I can.”
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