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Kandra: Catholic Deacons Are “Ordained to Be Vessels, Conveying Christ to Others”

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Aleteia - published on 06/04/16

Deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn spoke at recent Jubilee for Deacons in Rome

Deacon Greg Kandra, a popular blogger at Aleteia.org and a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn recently joined several thousand Catholic deacons and their wives in Rome to celebrate a Jubilee for Deacons within the Year of Mercy.

With so large a contingent, the deacons were grouped by language, with the English, German and Portuguese-speakers gathering at the ancient and beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, just steps away from the Pantheon.

Opening the day of presentations, Deacon Kandra spoke of the role of the deacon as a witness to compassion on “the frontlines” of wherever he happens to be, including within the workplace. Noting that Jesus, upon washing the feet of the apostles, said “I give you a model to follow,” Kandra noted that this is a model of “… Christ the Servant. But it is also a model of Christ the Worker.”

First, the deacon is called to be a witness to compassion. Last year, a young entrepreneur named David Williams wrote in Forbes magazine that he believes the least understood leadership trait in the workplace isn’t time management or budgeting or knowing how to run a spreadsheet. No. The least understood leadership trait … is forgiveness. He said the small company he founded flourished when all its members learned the value of forgiveness—how to give one another a second chance. He quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said, “The man who can’t make a mistake can’t make anything.” Being able to forgive is key to practicing mercy. But there can be no forgiveness or mercy without, first, compassion. In his ministry of charity, the deacon often reaches out to those who are hungry or poor. But we cannot forget: there are many kinds of hunger, many kinds of poverty. There are those who hunger for hope. Or respect. Or friendship. Others suffer from poverty of the soul. These poor may be closer than we realize. You may see them every morning on the elevator, or the subway. They might work in the cubicle next to yours.

This witness necessarily compels a deacon to support efforts for workers’ rights and a just wage, but also to make the work environment one that ministers to and upholds the dignity of the human person. “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.

Go here to read the full text of Deacon Kandra’s presentation.

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