The Pacific Northwest can count four more deacons, and the Catholic Sentinel has the scoop:
David Briedwell, a firefighter and paramedic, joined the Catholic Church in 1990. On a Marriage Encounter weekend, he felt grabbed. Before he knew it, he was telling others on the weekend that he was going to become Catholic, joining his wife Sally Marie in her faith.
He started out as a member of St. James Parish in his home town of McMinnville. Like some new Catholics, he drifted away from practicing his faith for awhile. When he returned, he felt welcomed with open arms. That started something.
He offered to mow the lawn at Good Shepherd Church in nearby Sheridan. Pretty soon, he was also counting the weekend collection and doing other jobs. When the priest was reassigned and it appeared no other was coming soon, the clergyman handed the church keys to Briedwell. Eventually, he began serving as a lector, eucharistic minister, sacristan and pastoral associate in Sheridan and Grand Ronde. Then he was named pastoral administrator. On Saturday, Briedwell became a deacon of the church, bound to serve the needy, preach the word and lead sacraments.
“You have to have people praying for you to do this,” says the father of two, citing great support from family and friends.
Briedwell was one of four men ordained as permanent deacons at St. Mary Cathedral. The others are Mike Caldwell, Dennis Desmarais, and Tim Dooley.
The permanent diaconate was revived by the Second Vatican Council. In the U.S., there were only 500 or 600 deacons in the 1970s. There are more than 17,000 now.
In Oregon, 64 permanent deacons visit the sick and prisoners and provide food, clothing and other assistance to needy Oregonians. They help prepare young couples for marriage and instruct those hoping to become Catholic.
The ministry of a deacon is primarily one of service and charity. Deacons are ministers of the word, which means they can proclaim the gospel at Mass, preach and teach in the name of the church. Their sacramental ministry includes baptizing, conducting prayer services, serving as an official church witness to marriage and conducting funerals and wake services.
Archbishop John Vlazny thanked the men and their wives for their willingness to play a role as “servant ministers” in the church’s evangelizing mission.
“First and foremost we ourselves must be men of prayer, integrity, generosity and compassion,” Archbishop Vlazny told the new deacons, offering that as an antidote to “bland Christianity” and “darkened spirits” in the world.
“The extent of the spirituality and generosity of deacons and their wives is reflected over and over again in the way they live their lives together with their families and through their service to the people of God, especially the poor and needy,” the archbishop said.
There’s more at the link. Welcome, brothers — and congratulations! Ad multos annos!
Photo: by Kim Nguyen