Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Diaconal ministry continues to develop in Spokane Diocese
the Inland Register
(From the July 1, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Spokane numbers among those several dioceses throughout the United States where the ministry of the permanent deacon has taken hold and has flourished.
Shortly after the 1968 declaration of Pope Paul VI gave concrete direction for the implantation of the Second Vatican Council’s call for the revitalization of this ministry, a formation program began in earnest in the Diocese of Spokane. In 1975 Bishop Bernard J. Topel assigned the responsibility to Father Michael Savelesky, current pastor of Spokane’s Assumption Parish, who also served the diocese at the time as rector of Bishop White Seminary, Director of Seminarians, and Vocation Director.
Since the time of that first formation program, additional series of programs have been directed by Fathers Richard Root and Mike Kwiatkowski, and Msgr. Pedro Ramírez.
Usually the formation program has extended over a four-year period. The program is required to follow general guidelines established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Although it is less intense, formation is rooted in the same four pillars as is formation for those studying for the priesthood: human, spiritual, academic and pastoral development.
Since 1975 scores of men have been prepared for ordination to the diaconate. The 2009-2010 edition of The Official Directory of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane lists 52 men now serving as deacons in the Diocese of Spokane. All but a few of those listed have undergone formation in the diocese’s own formation programs.
Succeeding Deacon John Byrne, Deacon John Sicilia currently serves as the diocese’s Director of Deacons, coordinating the various parochial and diocesan ministries with the needs of the diocese and the instruction of the local bishop.
Father Savelesky, who was appointed in 2007 once again to head the Deacon Formation Program, reports that 19 men are currently engaged in formation. The program has just completed its second year of formation. Eleven of the participants come from parishes in the Spokane metropolitan area; the other eight come from Brewster, Colbert, Inchelium, Newport, Pullman, Twisp, and Walla Walla.
Individuals from this group in formation will be ordained as early as 2012. Plans already are underway for yet another four-year formation period. Candidates will be sought particularly from the rural areas of the diocese where the service of the deacon is uniquely valued as an anchor for the life and activity of the parish.