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Key element in the new evangelisation: Jubilee for Deacons, Rome, 2016

30 June 2016 | General Interest

About 2,000 deacons from around the world gathered in Rome this May for the first international conference of deacons sponsored by the Holy See.

Rev Dr Anthony Gooley, who is a Lecturer in Theology at BBI, and Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, conceived the idea after meeting in Sydney in 2012.

 “I spoke with Archbishop Fisichella and suggested deacons have a key role to play in the new evangelisation for the Church and that this idea needed to be explored more deeply,” said Rev Dr Gooley.

Archbishop Fisichella agreed and the Year of Mercy seemed to present the opportunity. The Jubilee for Deacons represented the largest group of deacons ever to assemble in Rome.

Dr Gooley meets the PopeSpeaking on “The Deacon as an image of mercy for the new evangelisation in pastoral ministry,” Rev Dr Gooley presented to five hundred deacons and their wives at the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

Beginning his paper with the Acts 6:1-8, which is frequently taken as the foundation text for the ministry of deacons, Rev Dr Gooley was able to demonstrate that choosing the first seven deacons was a paradigm of evangelisation. He also noted that the text had been seriously distorted in modern interpretation.

“The Church originally chose seven Greek speaking men to minister the word of God to Greek speaking communities in which they evangelised, preached, catechised and baptised. The suggestion that the primary ministry of deacons is one of service to the poor or of charity is based on a case of mistaken identity and cannot be justified from Scripture or Tradition,” said Rev Dr Gooley.

Anthony Gooley_Rome

A more accurate understanding of the scriptural and theological foundations of diaconate will open the scope of the ministry of deacons and allow it to flourish in the life of local churches for new evangelisation.

“The scope of the ministry is only limited by the imaginations of those responsible for pastoral planning in dioceses,” said Rev Dr Gooley.

After the Jubilee Mass on Sunday morning, Rev Dr Gooley with his wife and a small number of deacons met with Pope Francis. The Pope affirmed the value of diaconal ministry in the life of the Church.

Rev Dr Gooley’s paper was very well received, leading to invitations to form global and regional partnerships, in addition to invitations to present in the USA, France and Germany.

“This pilgrimage to Rome highlights the role BBI plays in fostering academic scholarship and its contribution to the Church in local, regional and global contexts,” said Rev Dr Gooley.

Photo of Rev Dr Anthony Gooley presenting at the Deacons Jubilee Conference at Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome 2016, reprinted with kind permission from Catholic Weekly.



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