The recovery of the ministry of the deacon that we now see taking place in the Diocese of Montreal is part of a development that is taking place across the world in the major denominations. A Symposium on the Diaconate at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College in 1994, encouraged and informed the process of recovery in the ecclesiastical Province of Canada and in the Diocese of Montreal. In 1998, Allan Marjerison was the first to be ordained deacon in this diocese. There have since been five other deacons ordained in the diocese.
The ministry of the deacon is distinctive, an expression of the Church turned towards the world, being present and listening there for the voices of the poor of God and proclaiming there in action and words, the Good News of Christ come among us. As ministers of Christ, deacons are representative, modeling the servant ministry of his Church and thereby enabling, encouraging and informing the diaconal ministry of all - other clergy and the laity. They also interpret prophetically to the gathered Christian community, the needs, hopes and concerns of those who are scattered. Deacons express the importance of the community’s diaconal ministry by their participation in the liturgy as deacons.
The diocesan community of deacons meets monthly for fellowship, mutual support and accountability, and for ongoing education. It serves as the locus for the formation of diaconal identity for candidates, an essential part of the diocesan formation programme for deacons. There are also links with other deacon-associations, provincially, nationally and internationally, and the deacons serve as a resource for the Bishop’s Commission on Ministry by providing presenters and preachers in the parishes of enquirers when requested, and by providing mentors for aspirants. The community of deacons is the principal agent for the promotion of the vocational diaconate as integral to the diaconal ministry of the Church.
Enquiries about the diaconate can be addressed to the Diocesan Coordinator of Diaconal Ministries by contacting the Synod Office.
Deacon Peter Huish’s ministry has two major focuses: as Prison Chaplain, working in several Federal Institutions (Cowansville, Laval and La Macaza) and as Community Chaplain, coordinating the work of Montreal-Southwest Community Ministries (MSCM).
The Prison Chaplaincy work is highly varied and differs from one institution to another. A weekly chapel office is facilitated in each penitentiary and is tailored to reach people of different Christian traditions, the un-churched and the disaffected. Pastoral counseling and accompaniment of inmates is also provided, as well as being a visible presence at large in the institution and being available to personnel whose work is often stressful. There is a great deal of listening called for in this work.
A number of additional projects are facilitated and supported in the prisons including a self-help group for English-speaking life-sentence prisoners, regular reading-discussion courses led by volunteers from Thomas More Institute, weekly literacy tutoring by volunteers from Yamaska Literacy Council and Victim-Offender Encounter programmes.
MSCM is an ecumenical, Christian initiative, committed to the principles of Restorative Justice, seeking the responsible reintegration of offenders into the community and supporting them and their families in their spiritual, social, developmental and basic living needs. The weekly community meeting, Open Door, is the centre-piece of MSCM’s work but there is also considerable mentoring and accompanying of individual beneficiaries, all thanks to a significant number of dedicated volunteers.
Here are a few of their stories: