Deacon Bernie Bosse and Louise Bosse, Amy Simons and Deacon Ron Simons, Judy Culver and Deacon Kelley Culver. Photograph courtesy of Deacon Kelley Culver.

Deacons in diocese reaffirm their identities in Christ at national congress

Originally Appeared in : 9816-8/2/18

When Deacon Bernie Bosse, a parishioner of St. Mary Church in Americus, described how attending the 2018 National Diaconate Congress impacted his faith, he explained that it seemed like the “past five years of spiritual formation…on steroids.”


“Living in a portion of the country that’s 3 percent Catholic and then spending a week with 2,800 Catholics, the Papal Nuncio, numerous bishops and two cardinals was a spiritual shot in the arm,” Bosse, who was ordained to the diaconate in May, said in an email. “It was inspiring. I haven’t come down from the high yet.”


Deacon Bosse and his wife Louise were among 1,300 permanent deacons and their families in attendance at the five-day event in New Orleans, which revolved around the 50th anniversary of the reinstallation of the permanent diaconate. Also in attendance from the Diocese of Savannah were: Warner Robins Deacon Ron Simons and his wife Amy, and Deacon Kelley Culver – director of the diocese’s Office of the Permanent Diaconate – and his wife Judy, who worship at Fort Gordon’s St. Michael Catholic Community.


Both Bosse and Simons said that the sessions they attended and homilies they heard reaffirmed how their identities as deacons are not based in the ministries they serve but rather in who they are and can be in Christ – holy, Deacon Bosse said paraphrasing Cardinal Daniel DiNardo who spoke at the congress.


“We get the sense of what we’re doing but we forget that it’s not my ministry, it’s Christ’s,” Deacon Simons said referencing one of the sessions he attended. “And that is the way that we should be focused and looking at our ministry. Everything we’re doing is not us doing it, it’s Christ doing it through us, and we have to put Christ in that position and remember that as we’re doing all the things that we are doing.”


Although revolving around the vocation of deacons, the congress also devoted particular attention to the role that wives and their families play in the ministries of their husbands.


Sessions such as “Discernment, Synergy and Community: Supporting the Ministry of the Deacon’s Wife,” led by Tricia Vowels, the deacon wives coordinator for the Diocese of Lubbock, Texas and the general session led by husband and wife team Deacon Dominic Pastore and Teresa Tomeo-Pastore advised deacons in strengthening their marriages and the harmony that is “only achieved with a partner who can equally integrate the call to serve the Body of Christ into her own life, marriage and family,” as per the program description of Vowels’ session.


“Our wives are very important to our ministry because we couldn’t do it without them – first of all we couldn’t be ordained without our wife’s permission to the bishop,” Deacon Simons said. “Secondly, the wives are the ones that oftentimes are neglected: We’re on the altar, but the wives are sitting by themselves, and for 30 years of our married life we sat together at Mass and for the last six she’s sat by herself, and that is something that we, maybe as a Church, don’t recognize as much as maybe we should because the wives – without them, without their support, none of us could do what we do.”


“And many and most times, in my experience,” Deacon Simons continued, “most of the wives that I know are the unsung heroes: They’re the ones that keep us on track and support us, that sit home at night when we’re at a prison or visiting someone or doing whatever ministry we’re involved in and they sit home alone and quietly bear that, and I think they deserve a lot of credit too.”

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