Bishop William Skylstad has named Father Michael Savelesky, pastor of Spokane's Assumption Parish, as the new director of the Diocese of Spokane's deacon formation program.
John Steiner took over the role as Director of Continuing Education for Priests, which Father Savelesky
had been filling.
This isn't the first time that Father Savelesky
has served the diocese through ministry formation.
"In 1975, when I was on the formation staff at Bishop White Seminary," Father Savelesky
said, "I was asked to establish the formal process for the formation of permanent deacons for our diocese.
I held the position of Director of Permanent Deacon Formation until the spring of 1980, and then again from 1992-1995, during which time I also was serving as pastor of St. Peter Parish
and also was a member of the bishop's Secretariat."
Father Savelesky explained that the director of deacon formation "acts much like a principal of a Catholic school, identifying, forming and supervising faculty as well as providing a positive, Gospel-oriented process in the supervision of the overall program of deacon formation.
Because the ministry of the deacon is, by its very nature, to be "flexible and varied," Father Savelesky
said, it is impossible to look very far into the future to identify the specific ways that deacons will serve as the diocese continues moving into the 21st century.
"Much depends on the bishop's discernment of the needs of the local church.
In the end, the effectiveness of the deacon's ministry will be validated to the extent that he
responds to our Lord's admonition to serve and not to be served."
For such reasons, the church remains always cautious about the deacon becoming "a mere liturgical or 'sacristy' deacon, or even a publicly stable member of the governing structure of the parish.
A full-time salaried deacon may be useful in some circumstances, but (this) seems to speak contrary to the church's sense of the revised ministry of the permanent deacon," said Father Savelesky