Diaconate directors recognize Msgr. Roth for book, support

SAN DIEGO — Msgr. Joseph R. Roth was recognized for his outstanding financial support of the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD) at its annual national meeting held April 22-25.

That support came from donating the proceeds of his recently published book, The Deacon in Church Ministry.

Msgr. Roth, pastor of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, was told that the publication made well over $10,000 profit for NADD. The award was a shock to him because he did not know that number until he was honored.

“I was surprised at the results and the award was a total shot out of the dark,” he said. “I was not aware of the profits.

“It gives me a sense of achievement,” Msgr. Roth said of the award. “I am most happy that it has filled what I thought was a need. And it is a need or it wouldn’t be selling.”

The book was released nearly a year ago. It explains in lay terms how a deacon should function liturgically in the church. It has been purchased by directors and persons in charge of formation and training but lay people have been writing the monsignor and asking for it in their parishes.

“They are trying to find out more about what deacons do,” he said.

In writing the book, it was one of Msgr. Roth’s goals to stress the need for a program of education standards for deacons throughout the United States which is now a mandate for the Universal Church, he said.

He documented his work from many sources.

“It came from the fathers of the church, Flannery’s book on Vatican II, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, various publications from NCCB and USCC, the Code of Canon Law, scriptures, writings of Pope John Paul II especially from his series in the La Osservatore Romano, and rites for different sacraments,” he said.

The Deacon in Church Ministry is in such demand that a second printing of 5,000 is being considered.

Meanwhile Msgr. Roth is hoping to follow up with another. He is also finding time to work on two additional books on various aspects of the diaconate life including the spirituality of the diaconate and deacons as pastoral administrators.

It has been an unquestionable labor of love for the priest.

“This is something I really wanted to do,” he said. “I felt the diaconate needed some direction in terms of how deacons should be involved and how they should live out the ministry at the altar as well as at the marketplace.”

A belief that tied in nicely to the theme of the NADD meeting, “No Strangers Among Us” which had a record attendance of over 275 diaconate directors from throughout the United States, Canada and England. It was presided over by NADD outgoing president Deacon Maury Reed of Green Bay, Wis.

Deacon Peter D’Heilly of St. Paul/Minneapolis, is NADD president for the coming year which concludes with the 1999 national meeting in Boston.

Bishop Robert Brom of the Diocese of San Diego welcomed attendees at the opening of this year’s meeting by reflecting on the impact the diaconate has had on the life of the Church. Reed noted the record attendance and indicated that there were also a record number of new directors present.

The opening address was given by Scripture scholar Father Walter Burghardt, a Jesuit priest, who singled out the “loving the stranger” among us. He credited deacons with making a tremendous impact on the Church, and concluded his address by paying special tribute to the wives of the deacons.

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., and chairman of the United States Catholic Conference-National Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Diaconate reported on the recently released directory from the Vatican, which will be available soon in English.

Bishop Kmiec said that the U.S. diaconate will incorporate the Vatican documents into the revision of the 1984 guidelines on the diaconate, and into “norms” for formation of future deacons. He said the two sub-committees of the conference, of which Msgr. Roth is a member, have been “working diligently” on the guidelines, revision and formation document, and expect to have a “working draft” available to present to the U.S. bishops at their November 1999 annual meeting for their approval.

Other keynote presentations during the meeting included Father Nick Rice, who spoke on the challenges of diaconal ministry today; Sister Edith Prendergast, who addressed “the stranger among us — a voice of challenge,” and Dr. John Yzaguirre, who offered practical suggestions on how to discover and enjoy the presence of Jesus within us.

Other awards presented at the meeting included:

• Msgr. Roth recognized for his services as past president of the executive governing board along with Deacon Jerry Wilson, past NADD treasurer, for his service to the Board, and Pat Cuellar, who served many years as NADD office secretary.

• The William Philbin Award to Father Frederick Elskamp, director of the diaconate in the Jefferson City, Mo., Diocese.

• The Bart O’Leary Award to Msgr. Ted Kraus of the Oakland, Calif., Diocese, project director of the guidelines revision and formation norms projects.

• NADD Award to Mrs. Rac Pistone, who addresses wives of deacons issues as a writer and speaker and wife of a deacon.

• Delegates to the NADD meeting elected Deacon Jerry Wilson of Islip, N.Y., to the office of president-elect, to assume the office of president following the 1999 meeting.

Wilson is the diaconate director for the Diocese of Rockville Center, N.Y. Deacon Thomas Call, diaconate director for the Rochester, N.Y., Diocese, was elected NADD treasurer.

NADD Board of Directors members for the coming year include Deacons D’Heilly, Wilson, Cass, Reed and Sister Yvonne Lerner, director of the Little Rock, Ark., diaconate office, who is NADD secretary.