Deacons Pray, Celebrate Time Together
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 9, 2021
ROCKFORD—Several permanent deacons of the diocese spent part of their Labor Day weekend at Bishop Lane Retreat Center for a time of reflection, community and renewal.
Deacon Loc Nguyen, who serves at St. Mary Parish in Elgin, says he was “eager to come” after the coronavirus derailed the retreats in 2020. He called the retreat both a “time to reflect” and a “bonding between brothers.”
Deacon James Olson, a deacon at St. James Parish in Belvidere, has been at the retreats for over 25 years. He says he “always takes something away” and adds that he was enjoying Deacon Jason Stewart’s talks about “love and the Spirit of God and Jesus in our lives ... Whatever the Lord blesses you with, you take it as a blessing.”
Deacon Stewart led the retreat, “The Emotional Life of Christ: Compassion, Anger, and Joy.” The three days — Sept. 3-5 — were filled with conferences, prayer times and opportunities to visit and reflect together.
Bishop David Malloy celebrated Mass on Saturday for the retreat. In his homily, the bishop expressed his regrets that it “just hasn’t been often enough” for him to spend time with them, adding that he enjoys seeing them when he is at parishes.
Bishop Malloy urged them to use the retreat to take stock of their spiritual lives as deacons, saying it is “not simply (about) our own efforts” but also “God’s grace for our salvation ... God forms us little, by little, by little.” 
He encouraged them to pray for sinners they know and don’t know, noting that the Blessed Mother calls them to pray in that wider way.
“We are always a work in progress,” he added, quoting from the day’s reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and asking if others can see that “(we) persevere in the faith, (are) firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard.”
The lifestyle of a permanent deacon — who is often married, working and otherwise “immersed fully” in the world, the bishop said, gives them an opportunity to evangelize “in the middle of it.”
With them living in the world, Bishop Malloy said, “the Church needs your service ... it needs you present on the altar ... and (needs) your prayers.”
The temptations of worldliness and the challenges in the world and in the Church mean “how important is that prayer life,” he said. “How important ... to be firmly grounded and stable ... it’s a test of (our) faith, love and our stability and to help others (with) the guidance of the Holy Spirit (to share) the truth about God.”
The diocesan retreats for deacons and for deacon couples “rejuvenates us,” Deacon Paul Ranney of St. Joseph and St. Mary parishes  in Freeport says, adding, “This one (is about developing) a deeper relationship with God through prayer.”
This was his seventh retreat, and he noted that it was “good to hear the stories” of other deacons, “especially my brothers who are in the same (diaconate) class. It’s absolutely wonderful (and) needed for us ... It’s nice to take a break away from the world to focus on God.”
Shop Religious items at HOLYART.COM