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Permanent diaconate celebrates 40th anniversary in Reinbeck

REINBECK — Over 270 people, including deacons, their wives and associates, came together recently at St. Gabriel Church in Reinbeck to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

The Oct. 28 event featured a liturgy concelebrated by Archbishop Michael Jackels and remarks from Bishop Thomas Zinkula of the Diocese of Davenport. The restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Catholic Church began in 1964 as a result of the Second Vatican Council, according to Deacon Tom Lang, director of the permanent diaconate for the archdiocese.

In 1967, Pope Paul VI issued guidelines for formally restoring the vocation. In 1978, the first class of 15 permanent deacons was ordained in the archdiocese, and over the past 40 years, 154 have been called into service, Deacon Lang stated in his remarks for the celebration.

“We remember and we are grateful for our past,” said Deacon Lang. “We are thankful where the Holy Spirit and our church leaders have brought us today. And we await, with hopeful expectation, the blessings and challenges that lay before us tomorrow.”

Since the restoration of the diaconate, deacons have made important contributions to the local church by filling service roles at parishes, in jail and prison ministry, and in many other capacities.

As part of the celebration, the diaconate community recognized Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, a member of the Mercy Help Network. This organization has provided space for each diaconate class to hold regular classes since the formation program began and has also played a role in preparing deacons for ministry in ­other ways. In gratitude, the deacons of the archdiocese presented Terri Derflinger, the spiritual care director for the facility, a new chalice for the Covenant chapel. The item is already being used during Masses there.

Over the course of the last year, The Witness has published reflections by permanent deacons and their wives on the history of the vocation in the archdiocese and on the ministry. In an upcoming issue, we will have further coverage of the Oct. 28 anniversary celebration. For more information, visit the 40th anniversary website:   


Deacon Tom Lang, director of the permanent diaconate in the archdiocese, presents a new chalice to Terri Derflinger, spiritual care director of Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo at the 40th anniversary celebration event Oct. 28 at St. Gabriel Church, Reinbeck. (Photo by Deacon Stanley Scheiding)