Deacons’ wives offer gift of novena prayers

By Andrew Morgan
The wives of the deacons both in the Diocese of Memphis and Jackson played a special role in their formation and ordination. Many of them attended all but a handful of the classes with their husbands during the five-year formation. At the ordination Mass, the wives carried their husband’s vestments in the procession and presented them to the priests or deacons at the time of vesting.
Another example of their commitment to the ministry was the unusual gift they gave their husbands – the gift of prayer. The wives and a volunteer organized and prayed a novena starting on May 13, for the men in the Memphis diocese, and then a second time beginning May 26 for the men in Jackson. The volunteer was praying for the unmarried candidates.
The novena was composed by Sarah D’Addabbo, wife of Mike D’Addabbo of the Diocese of Memphis. D’Addabbo felt called to write a small prayer as part of her spiritual preparation for her husband’s ordination. She collaborated with Shona Moore, wife of Philip Moore,  also from Memphis.
The pair started gathering writings and ideas. D’Addabbo found  some lines written by Father John McKenna, CSSR, that became her inspiration for the prayer. when she obtained his permission to use his writings, Father McKenna said he was honored his words would be used for a novena.
D’Addabbo shared the prayer with family and friends who wanted to pray it as well, and they adjusted it to make it fit their relationship with the men they know.
Dawn McGinley, John McGinley’s wife, was closely involved with her husband through his formation. “I was blessed to be able to attend all but three of the formation classes with my husband. It helped us grow together as a couple and see our faith in a new way, she noted. “It was a great privilege to watch each of these men grow spiritually and personally. Each one has a wonderful gift that will benefit our diocese, the parishes and the people they will serve.”
She had this to say when asked why they chose to say a novena for their husbands. “Novenas are beautiful prayers that require a special discipline to pray every day. I personally have felt that God is asking me to pray for my husband and his vocation in the diaconate,” she said.
“I feel it is a way I can share in his ministry. I may not even know who he is helping or what they need but when he gets called to serve, I can pray. We, as a couple, personally know the power of intercessory prayer. We have experienced the power of prayer and God’s response to that prayer through many trials in our life. It is a great gift,” McKinley added.
(Andrew Morgan is a rising sophomore at The Catholic University of America and a graduate of Madison St. Joseph School.)

Six deacons ordained for diocese




By Maureen Smith
JACKSON — Saturday, June 4, Bishop Joseph Kopacz ordained six men into the permanent diaconate in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The men have spent the last five years in formation, spending weekends in Memphis studying spirituality, cannon law, homiletics and learning how to administer sacraments. The Diocese of Memphis partnered with Jackson to bring professors down from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana to teach the classes.
Each of the men will serve in his home parish. The new deacons are: Jeff Artigues of Starkville St. Joseph Parish, Richard Caldwell of Vicksburg St. Mary, Denzil Lobo from Madison St. Francis, John McGinley, also from Starkville, John McGregor of Pearl St. Jude Parish and Ted Schreck of Southaven Sacred Heart. Read more about the men and their wives on pages 9-13.
Father Sam Messina, pastor of Batesville St. Mary Parish, oversaw their formation. “They went to St. Meinrad’s last summer and studied homiletics – preaching. I got some of their DVDs of their practice,” he explained during an interview this past winter. “A deacon’s thrust of ministry is service and the Word. They work with charity, visit hospitals, visit prisons, helping with food pantries, that sort of thing, as well as assisting at the altar,” he added.
Permanent deacons are ordained and can administer baptisms, marriages and perform funerals. In hospital ministry, they can pray over someone in the name of the church. They cannot consecrate the Eucharist, although they can preach at Mass and Communion services. “They can teach, prepare a couple for marriage, they can work on marriage cases, preparing them for the tribunal. Of course they work in the field of charity. When people come to the parish for help they can size up the needs of the people, share with the pastor and reach out to the people in need,” said Father Messina.
They can be married when they are ordained, but cannot remarry, even if they become widowers. The wives of those ordained play an important part in the preparation and ministry. Father Messina said all of the wives were required to take a year of the classes and could attend more if they wanted. Families have to prepare themselves for a ministry of service to the church. An unmarried man ordained into the permanent diaconate cannot marry.
“The diaconate is a supplement to what the priest does. It goes back centuries. There were deacons in early churches. As you well know, in the acts of the apostles they talk about ‘we can’t wait on tables and take care of the spiritual needs of the people so we’re going to have men (to do that),’ and they chose eight men – and all their names are in the Acts of the Apostles and they will help us ministering to the tables and preaching- supplement what we priests can do, what the bishops can do,” said Father Messina.
The formation period is more than just education. Those who enter it must be fully aware of their life-long commitment. “An ordained deacon is not a volunteer. He’s committed for life. He’s a great asset to the community, in my opinion,” said Father Messina.
Father Kevin Slattery, vicar general for the Diocese of Jackson, said the diocese hopes to have another class of deacons, but is still working out the logistics. The age limit to enter is 45. Anyone who feels called to this ministry should first go to his parish priest.