2018 National Diaconate Congress to Celebrate Christ the Servant: Yesterday, Today and Forever

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One of the successes of the Second Vatican Council will be celebrated July 22-26 in the Archdiocese of New Orleans — and you’re invited!

The 2018 National Diaconate Congress will gather deacons, candidates and their wives, plus ordinaries, priests and formation staff from across North American and Europe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the renewal of the diaconate in the United States.

Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, N.Y., lays hands on Deacon Ralph Colon during the ordination of permanent deacons June 3 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. Eleven men were ordained to the diaconate during the Mass. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Just 50 years ago, Blessed Pope Paul VI granted permission to Latin-rite U.S. bishops to begin forming men as deacons. The Order of Deacons grew slowly at first, with just 898 deacons ordained by 1975. Today in the U.S. alone, there are more than 18,000 deacons serving their bishops and the People of God!

The Congress theme is “Christ the Servant: Yesterday, Today and Forever.” Each day of the Congress will highlight one aspect of the theme. Monday, July 23, will focus on “Christ the Servant: Yesterday.” Tuesday, July 24, will examine the diaconate from the perspective of “Christ the Servant: Today.” Wednesday, July 25, will look at yet unfilled aspects of the diaconate and its potential under “Christ the Servant: Forever.”

Opening Mass will be at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 22. It will be celebrated at the historic St. Louis Cathedral — Basilica on Jackson Square. Our host, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, will deliver the homily and keynote address.

All remaining elements of the Congress will be conducted at the Marriott New Orleans on Canal Street. Each day begins with Mass and Lauds followed by three general sessions and a block of workshops. Our emcee for the congress, Mike Patin, will oversee the program.

The final morning of the congress, July 26, opens with Lauds and is followed by a closing address and closing Mass with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Participants can look forward to an outstanding slate of general session speakers, which includes Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Deacon James Keating, Deacon Gregory Kandra, Bishop Frederick F. Campbell, Bishop-elect Shawn McKnight, Teresa Tomeo Pastore and Deacon Dominic Pastore, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Deacon William Ditewig and Bishop Samuel J. Aquila.

More than 30 workshops in total will be presented Monday through Wednesday. Speakers include priests, deacons and wives of deacons. Participants may have a hard time deciding between topics!

A special feature of the Congress will be a live daily radio broadcast from the floor of the congress by Teresa Tomeo. The Catholic broadcaster and author also will be a general session presenter with her husband, Deacon Dominic Pastore.

An extra-cost social event is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, July 24, at The National WWII Museum that includes a tour and reception. Full access to the museum runs from 2-5 p.m. Four showings of the 4-D movie, “Beyond All Boundaries,” narrated by Tom Hanks, extends to 6 p.m. A presentation by Dr. Dianne Traflet, entitled “Called Out of Darkness: Building the Body of Christ from the Barracks of Dachau,” completes the program before the start of the reception. Traflet’s topic is particularly poignant for deacons, because it was prisoner priests at Dachau who suggested restoring the diaconate to renew the Church after the war.

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Through the generosity of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, this WWII Museum event has a discounted price of just $30 per person. (The usual cost for admission alone is $25 per person). Space is limited to the first 600 people who purchase tickets in advance through the registration website.

Congress participants also will want to visit the congress exhibit area to learn about opportunities to enhance their ministries and to shop for religious merchandise. More than 70 exhibitors representing religious organizations, publishers, educators, vendors and travel agents will be present.

A dedicated website for the 2018 National Diaconate Congress (www.deacon2018.org) is where to go for information about the Congress and where register. The cost to register is $250 for individuals (deacons, candidates, priests, bishops and friends). The cost for wives and deacon widows is just $99.

Tickets for the WWII Museum event can only be purchased through the Deacon2018 website. If you already have registered, please return to the site and login again using the username and password that you entered when you registered. All purchases are by credit card, and a service fee will be added.

The website has a link to make your room reservation at the Marriott New Orleans. Rooms are discounted to $133 per night plus taxes for one or two people in a room. A credit card will be required to make reservations, but it will not be charged until check-in. The Marriott offers only valet parking, but the parking rate is discounted 50 percent for congress attendees.

With all that is planned, a great turnout is expected for the 2018 National Diaconate Congress. We hope that you will want to be part of this historic event for deacons!

Deacon Thomas R. Dubois is executive director of the National Association of Diaconate Directors.

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