REGINA……Organizers were hoping for 60 but more than 100 registered for the first Anglican-Roman Catholic-Ukrainian Catholic Diaconate International conference held here May 10 -13 at Campion College, University of Regina. Delegates listened and took part in discussions as papers presented by known authors and scholars offered a variety of opinions about deacons and their role in their faith communities. Co-chairs Anglican Bishop of Qu’Appelle Robert Hardwick and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Regina Donald Bolen officially opened and closed the conference.
Joe Lang, a Roman Catholic deacon for 20 years, felt reaffirmed in his ministry after listening and taking part in all the discussions. “It was very interesting to hear the variety of ministries in all the faith communities.” Conference Secretary Deacon Michael Jackson has served the Qu’Appelle Anglican Diocese for 41 years. “We learn so much from each other and experienced each other’s worship and theology and came closer together which is really what the ecumenical movement is all about.”
Sister Gloria Marie Jones OP, Dominican Sisters of San Jose Mission California, presented papers to the panels on Women and the Diaconate and the Prophetic Ministry of the Deacon. “I belong to an order of preachers,” she said referring to the ‘OP’ after her name, “but I am not allowed to preach.” She did, however, read one of the daily Scriptures at the Anglican Choral Communion Service that closed the conference and was seated in the Sanctuary, and said, “I was privileged to be a part of the conference.”
A session entitled Conundrum of Transitional Diaconate opened the conference. Panel members Susanne Watson Epting, former Director for Episcopal Deacons in the USA; George Newman, retired deacon of St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Diocese, Ontario; and Director of Ordinands, Deacon Alison Peden, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, Scotland, engaged the audience with views for and against Transitional Diaconate. “We wanted the first paper to provoke a lively discussion to set a tone for the conference,” said Conference Committee member Dr. Brett Salkeld, Regina Archdiocese Theologian and Director of Diaconate Formation, “and it did that.”
Over the next two days panel members presented papers and led discussions on: Theological Basis of the Diaconate, Women and the Diaconate, Diaconate as Ecumenical Opportunity, Prophetic Ministry of the Deacon, Diaconate in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Deacons in Worshipping Community and Diaconal formation. A Catholic Mass in the Campion College chapel opened the conference with Bishop Hardwick as preacher, and an Anglican Choral Communion Service, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, closed the conference on Sunday with Archbishop Bolen as preacher.
The conference arose out of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant signed in 2011 between the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Regina Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Archbishop Bolen is Co-Chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and continues to work internationally on Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. He said of the conference, “It will be exciting to watch where the seeds planted here will go.”
Following the conference both bishops said they were pleased with the ecumenical experience it afforded. “It’s a privileged moment to have representatives from different Christian Churches, most notably Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic communities, to share their reflections on living the diaconate” said Bolen. “The whole church needs to hear what was said here,” offered Hardwick. “I think it will strengthen our ecumenical partnerships.” It is expected that all papers presented at the conference will be collated into a book.