Archbishop Fabre leads deacons in renewal of vows

By Bill Brewer

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre presided at a Vespers service in which the Diocese of Knoxville’s deacons renewed their diaconal vows.

The service was held on Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, in Cathedral Hall on the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus campus.

The deacons were joined by their wives, who also renewed their pledge of support before Archbishop Fabre.

Joining the permanent deacons for the service were several candidates in the next class preparing for the permanent diaconate.

Assisting Archbishop Fabre in leading the service was Deacon Jim Bello, who assists in leading the Diocese of Knoxville Office of the Diaconate and Deacon Formation.

Deacon Bello shared that Archbishop Fabre inquired about a gathering where he could meet the diocese’s deacons.

“He asked if there was anything on the schedule for deacons and their wives where I could meet everybody. I just thought I love this guy because at some point about 90 percent of you have asked me when are we going to have something where we can meet Archbishop Fabre. Well, tonight is our night, and we truly appreciate you, Archbishop, being with us,” Deacon Bello said.

Archbishop Fabre led the deacons in the Liturgy of the Hours and then spoke to them about their ministry and spoke to the wives about their role in supporting their husbands’ ministry in the Church.

The archbishop reminded the deacons and their wives that the deacons’ primary responsibility is to their wives and families.

“I’m very, very grateful for all that you do as a diaconate community. I’m very grateful to you deacons, and I’m very grateful to your wives,” he said.

The archbishop shared with them that everywhere he has served has had active and robust diaconal communities.

“I have very much appreciated the ministry of deacons, which always has been but is more and more today vital to the ministry of the Church, particularly in parish communities. I thank you for the many, many ways you provide sacramentally and spiritually for the people that you serve,” Archbishop Fabre said.

“I think the diaconate community is a very important part of the life of a diocese, and I have throughout my ministry as a priest and as a bishop had nothing but wonderful, wonderful experiences with deacons and with diaconate formation,” he added. “Please note my great gratitude for all that you do here in the Diocese of Knoxville. And my gratitude to the wives for all that you allow your husbands to do.”

Archbishop Fabre then took questions from the deacons and their wives.

He told the gathering that in the Diocese of Knoxville and in the Archdiocese of Louisville, where he is shepherd, he is surrounded by very competent people who love the Church and also love the dioceses they serve.

“First and foremost, the Lord Jesus Christ, I would like to believe, is giving me the guidance and the strength to lead these dioceses. And the Lord has also provided men and women, clergy and laity who have helped me do this work. It’s a delight and it has been a real joy to come to know the Diocese of Knoxville. … I ask your prayers for me, and I assure you of my prayers for you,” he said.

Deacon Bello thanked Archbishop Fabre for his leadership of the Diocese of Knoxville, which is awaiting news of a new bishop.

“Thank you, Archbishop. We have all faith that our Lord will send us a bishop after His own heart. But you have certainly made your way into the hearts of the people of this diocese, and we thank you for everything, for all of your sacrifices. I know you’ve said the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville are praying for us regularly, and we pray for them in thanksgiving for that as well,” Deacon Bello said.

Deacon Bello thanked Deacon Tim Elliott for the work he has done in building the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Knoxville. Deacon Elliott is the director of the Diocese of Knoxville’s diaconate and deacon formation.

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