New director aims to spread understanding of deacons’ role

| April 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Deacon John Belian said he should be better able to prioritize his work as the new director of the diaconate in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after four listening sessions with deacons this spring.

Archbishop John Nienstedt appointed Deacon Belian to the position earlier this year. He’ll serve as a volunteer and on a part-time basis for at least one year, according to a letter from Bishop Lee Piché to deacons.

Deacon Belian, who ministers at Holy Cross in Minneapolis, succeeds Deacon Joseph Michalak, who for the past two years has held the position while also serving as director of deacon formation.

Deacon Belian’s principal responsibilities, Bishop Piché noted, are supporting the diaconal community and overseeing the community’s events, serving as a resource for permanent deacons and their wives, and providing consultation when requested for issues related to assignments.

Deacon Michalak will continue to direct the Institute for Diaconate Formation, which over time “has become more and more integrated with the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, sharing facilities, faculty and courses,” the bishop pointed out.

He added that after careful review and consultation, and with the full consent of seminary rector Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, Archbishop Nienstedt has issued a directive that the deacon formation program become an institute within the St. Paul Seminary.

The IDF will be responsible for the selection and admission process, general catechesis and information on the vocation of deacon, as well as continuing education for ordained deacons.

Having a specific person for deacons to turn to for support is a key aspect of his new position, Deacon Belian said. He said the Deacon Council “does most of the heavy lifting” for the events of the diaconate community, which are social, educational and spiritual in nature.

If there is one new initiative he has in mind, it is to help people both inside and outside the Church understand the diaconate.

“We have to have a simple, straightforward but complete way to explain who we are and what we do,” he said.

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