Four new deacons ordained

June 7, 2013

Archbishop James Weisgerber, centre, with newly ordained deacons, from left, Michael Thibert, Patrick Neufeld, Colin Peterson and Kelly Wilson.

By James Buchok

The Archdiocese of Winnipeg has welcomed four new deacons as Archbishop James Weisgerber presided at the ordinations of Patrick Neufeld, Colin Peterson, Michael Thibert and Kelly Wilson at St. Mary's Cathedral, May 24.

"We gather in the presence of the risen Lord as he builds up his church," the archbishop said. "This is all God's doing."

Neufeld, Peterson and Wilson were ordained to the transitional diaconate, taking a step closer to priesthood, and Thibert was ordained to the permanent diaconate.

Peterson, 61, is chaplain at the Manitoba Youth Centre for young offenders. He was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada in 1978 and became a Catholic in 2011. Thibert, 48, is Director of Spiritual Care at St. Boniface Hospital. Neufeld, 39, and Wilson, 29 continue their studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wis. Both are finishing their third year of a four-year theology degree.

Weisgerber spoke to the gathering of the prophet Jeremiah who resisted God's call, complaining that he was only a child and did not know how to speak. But it is not we who choose, Weisgerber said. "It is God who chooses and it is God who calls. We listen and we respond."

Rev. James deBeer Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg and pastor at Christ the King Church in Stonewall, Man., called and presented the candidates to the archbishop on behalf of the local church. In response, Weisgerber declared; "Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate."

Weisgeber said to be ordained a deacon means to be called to serve. "It has always been the call of the deacon to strengthen, energize and unite the Christian community," he said. Weisgerber said Christians everywhere "are thrilled" with Pope Francis and his call to live simpler lives and to be concerned for the poor "and that is what the deacon does."

The deacon, the archbishop said, "is called to embrace and welcome people, especially those who are marginalized and so easily forgotten."

Weisgerber spoke of the ongoing community buildling efforts in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, which he called for in his ten-year Pastoral Vision, Building a Church of Communion, issued in 2005. "We are working at creating community and we need to be a community that excepts others and the deacon is sent to energize a parish to become that body of Christ," he said. "The church is not called for itself, the church is sent into the world.. The community is to be the presence of God in the world."

Weisgerber said when Pope John XXIII announced the convening of Vatican II, the pope prayed that the forthcoming council would open up a "new Pentecost" in the church and he based his hope on the emerging societal changes of women's liberation, the end of colonialism and a new economic democracy. "Fifty years ago we thought Nirvana was just around the corner and it hasn't happened. Are we involved in the world's issues or only ourselves?" he asked. Weisgerber said Canada, too, has been guilty of colonialist attitudes for its treatment of First Nations people. "An ecomonic democracy means it works for everyone," he said. "We need to be engaged in that work. This is the work of the church, the community and the deasons."

Weisgerber thanked the new deacons for coming forward "to offer yourselves in service.

I offer you my prayers, and our prayers, so you can lead us to become the people God wants us to be."

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