Deacons gather for annual retreat

Friday, October 28, 2022

Intermountain Catholic

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Names are added to the Book of the Dead during the memorial service at the October 21 diaconate retreat for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. IC photo/Marie Mischel

By Marie Mischel

Intermountain Catholic

PROVO – “The Spirituality of Pope St. John XXIII” was the topic of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Diaconate Retreat 2022, held October 21-23 at the Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The retreat fulfilled the canonical requirement for deacons, who are required to attend such an event once a year.

The keynote speaker was Deacon William Ditewig, PhD, ordained deacon for the Archdiocese of Washington, teacher, and author of several books.

“Bill is really one of the leading commentators on deacon theology throughout the Church, certainly in the English-speaking world, and he teaches, but he also led deacon retreats for many years,” the deacon said. Scott Dodge, director of the Diocesan Office of the Diaconate, who organized the retreat.

Deacon Ditewig gave five presentations during the retreat, each focusing on a spiritual topic such as hope or obedience, using examples from the life of John XXIII. Although looking at spirituality through the prism of John XXIII “doesn’t seem automatically relevant to the diaconate”, the presentation was “really honed and focused on something that is useful not only for deacons but, I think, for wives too,” Deacon told Dodge.

The general theme of the retreat was humility – “that humility is sort of the foundation of everything, which of course is organic to the diaconate,” Deacon Dodge said, noting that John XXIII was an example” that humility is no obstacle to accomplishing big things.”

Deacon Ditewig said he chose the life of John XXIII because the saint, who was pope from 1958 to 1963 and who convened the Second Vatican Council, “is such an important figure for the life of the Catholic Church that I think it’s important to spend time to really get to know him. … I think he’s a great role model on many levels that we can appreciate and learn from.

During the retreat, Deacon Ditewig showed excerpts from the film “My Name Will Be John: Pope John XXIII,” which depicts much of the Pope’s thoughts during the opening year of Vatican II. While speaking on the theme of hope, Deacon Ditewig showed an excerpt from the film in which the Pope spoke about some of his doubts and fears.

“Pope John was more than just a smiling, happy face; he also had fears,” the deacon said. “He was an old man, he was sick. He knew he didn’t have much time left, he had this ambitious council project… He had a lot to fear, a lot to fear. And he was.

Nonetheless, the pope faced his fears and continued with the council, even in the face of significant resistance.

At the end of each session, Deacon Ditewig asked reflective questions, such as “Consider that fear freezes; hope heals. What are my fears? and “Spiritual subtraction is the removal of things that interfere and distract our attention from God. What should I take away from my own life right now? »

During Saturday evening prayer, faithfully deceased deacons and deacon wives in the diocese were remembered, with each name read aloud as a memorial candle was lit. Deacon Dodge said at last year’s memorial service he was struck by the number of lit candles, but “not in a sad way. You know, each one of those candles was a life of service – both deacons and deacons’ wives. …I certainly think of the many deacons and deacons’ wives I have known over the years, many of whom have passed away, [were] a holy and good people, a veritable cloud of witnesses to Christian life and service among us. And most of these men and women served diligently and quietly, not seeking and in fact often running away from any form of recognition, so it’s good that we can remember each of them now, and we will by their name.

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