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More on Pittsburgh’s deacon administrators

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/02/15

You may remember this item from last week, about deacons taking over some parishes in Pittsburgh and serving as administrators.

The National Catholic Register‘s Peter Jesserer Smith has more:

The new deacon-administrators and their parish assignments have not yet been made public. However, Deacon Stephen Byers, director of the department of diaconate formation, said three deacons have been training since Jan. 1 to take up their new roles in this project. The training covers the day-to-day operations of parish life and brings in experts from a variety of professional backgrounds to cover all the areas of parish management. 059.B-22 The idea is that training will continue in the form of workshops, which can address issues that arise on the job. “We’ll provide them with as much ongoing formation as they need,” Deacon Byers said, explaining that diocesan officials will review the project after a full year. “There’s a lot of communication issues that go along with this because the models are all different,” he said. The program’s organizers are working with the regional vicar, the pastor and the deacon to understand what the prime constituencies of each parish (such as the parishioners in the pews, the pastoral councils, staff, etc.) need to know in order to make sure everyone is prepared and understands what is going on. Byers said this post-ordination role is for “seasoned guys” — deacons with years of experience in ministry already under their belts and professional backgrounds in management. He said they chose the deacons carefully to make sure that they would have a “good-working relationship” with the pastors or regional vicar, who will still have charge over the care of souls in the parish. …In the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, a handful of parishes are administered by a deacon or religious known as a “pastoral leader,” who works with the priest, known as the “presbyteral moderator,” who has primary spiritual care of the parish. Deacon Jerry Ziemkiewicz has run the administration of St. Richard’s in Swanton, Ohio, for three years, and he said that stepping into the role was “a difficult transition” for both him and the parish, mainly because it was so new and different. While he had more than 20 years of full-time ministry and parish experience in the Church when he arrived at the parish, he had to build the relationships, the trust and personal ties with people who were still getting used to the idea of a married deacon living in the rectory full time. But they got to know each other, and Deacon Ziemkiewicz said he focused on viewing the challenges as opportunities for growth, particularly in his preaching. “I asked: What can we do now as a parish? How can we have parishioners step up and help more in leadership roles and get more involved in parish life?” he said. “And one of the great things about St. Richard is that the people love their parish: They volunteer, they do step up, and they take ownership of the areas where they need to.”

Read more. 

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