More than 50 deacons from across Australia and New Zealand will gather in Pennant Hills, NSW for a National Deacons' Conference from August 6-9, focusing on a theme of "Word, Worship, Service". Among scheduled speakers are Liberal MP Tony Abbott and national living treasure, Fr Frank Brennan.
"The theme really encapsulates the vocation of the permanent deacon and will serve as a great focal point for our distinguished speakers and for our working sessions," said Deacon Peter Olsen, the Chairman of the National Committee of Deacons.
"The ministry of the deacon goes back to the earliest Church communities and we read in the Acts of the Apostles how the Apostles chose seven men as deacons to help them in their ministry of service," he said in a statement.
"The need arose because a certain group of people in the community were being neglected. Today, deacons are called to continue these ministries of service, to meet people where they are, and especially on the margins."
Among those scheduled to address the conference include Bishop David Walker, who will open the conference and give a presentation on the Word; Bishop Anthony Fisher, who will speak on "Service Ministry of a Deacon"; Bishop Michael Malone, who will give his views on "The Diaconate in Australia - Past, Present and Future". Tony Abbott will deliver a speech on "The Church in Australia".
Other speakers include Fr Frank Devoy, the Director of the Office of Clergy Life and Ministry; Fr Gerard Kelly; Deacon Jim Curtain from Melbourne; Sr Kristen Johnston rsj, who will share some thoughts on Mary Mackillop; and Fr Frank Brennan SJ, who will be the guest speaker at the conference dinner.
Delegates also plan to commemorate the 100 years anniversary of the death of Blessed Mary Mackillop on August 8, Deacon Olsen said in a statement.
"This conference will be a wonderful opportunity for permanent deacons and their wives across Australia to gather together and really tap into the spirituality, theology and practical issues that underpin their vocation, so they can return to their diocese with fresh inspiration and vigour," Deacon Olsen said.