Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Permanent Diaconate - News and Events


Upcoming Events:

Diaconate Information Evenings

If you think that the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to respond to God’s call to consider your vocation to the permanent diaconate, then why not come along to one of the information evenings that are being held across the diocese this autumn? Details of these sessions, which all start at 7.00pm and last for about 90 minutes, are as follows:

  • Thursday 19 September – English Martyrs and SS Peter and Paul, Redhill Road, Stockton on Tees, TS19 9BY.

  • Thursday 3 October – St. Bede’s, Catholic Row, Bedlington, Northumberland, NE22 6HS.

  • Thursday 17 October – St. Mary’s, Bridge Street, Sunderland, SR1 1TQ

  • Thursday 7 November – St. Hilda’s Resource Centre, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 7PY.

At each of these sessions, there will be the opportunity to listen to a deacon share his own experience, to hear from the wife of a man who is a deacon what it means for them and family life, a chance to know a more about the formation programme and the application process and, most importantly of all, the opportunity to ask questions. Wives of men who are considering the permanent diaconate are equally welcome to attend these sessions. The prayerful discernment of husband and wife as a married couple is an essential aspect to consider during formation and beyond ordination. We look forward to welcoming you at one of these sessions.

Past Events:

Candidature Mass – Wednesday 25 September 2019

Candidature Mass 2019

A Celebration Mass was held on Wednesday 25 September at St Joseph’s Sunderland. The Mass was to celebrate the entrance of three Candidates into the training programme for the Permanent Diaconate. The main celebrant was Bishop Robert and co-celebrants were the Parish Priests of the Candidates and also other clergy who had come along to support them, along with Parishioners from their various Parishes. Bong Nidea, Gareth Rowe and Bernie Walsh, and Carl Watson who is training for the Ordinariate, were supported by their families, Formation Team, fellow Deacons and also those still in training.

Pat Kennedy MPS, member of Formation Team

Kick Off weekend – Friday 6 to Sunday 8 September 2019

Trainee Deacons of the Permanent Diaconate Community together with their wives and members of the Formation team met over the weekend of 6 - 8 September to begin a new year. New additions to the group for the four year training journey are Andy and Lisa French, Alison and Joby Rebello and Patrick and Rosanna Rutherford.

Time shared included business, training and social time to get to know each other and form a support group for the journey. Input was given by Fr Sean Hall, Deacon John Hawthorne, Pat Kennedy, and Deacon Kevin Atkinson and his wife Oonagh. Mass was celebrated by Fr David Russell.

Kevin and Oonah shared the story of their journey, their calling into the Dance/Signing Ministry with “More than Dance”, Kevin’s calling eventually into the Diaconal Ministry and Oonagh’s into Counselling. They followed this with an opportunity for all to learn and to join in one of their Prayer Dance Movements. All joined in, some were very moved by it, and then requested that a longer Workshop be arranged for a later date.

Everyone agreed that this once again had been a very good beginning for their year.

"This was a wonderful experience, a great opportunity to meet the others and bond together and make new friends"

"A great experience, thank you"

"Relaxing stimulating and reassuring. Great to be able to meet everyone, ask Questions and share our stories”

“This time has been exceptional, all input excellent, and Kevin and Oonagh’s sharing was inspirational.”

“As a wife I love these opportunities to come together. It’s great to feel we belong and are included. This weekend has been even more inspiring and fulfilling.”

“It’s good to feel challenged , to dream a different dream and to imagine the Church of the future – this weekend has done this and enables us to encourage each other. It has been a powerful, spirit filled weekend. We have been called to Missionary Discipleship, called to look at change and growth, called to be vulnerable and to empty ourselves in order to be refilled, and all of which will lead us to fulfilment. Thanks to all for this opportunity and experience.”

“I came with an open mind. I have found the unexpected and thoroughly enjoyed it, with great insights and a calling to discernment. Thanks to Fr David Russell for his Sermon at Mass and to all who have been part of this inspirational time.”

“My first time – but the love and support has been amazing.”

“Great to experience the many strands of the Diaconate, as a group, including wives, we bring so much to each other as a Community and to the Church. Kevin and Oonagh’s creativity was a great witness to me as to how open and adaptable we need to be and to share the Word in so many different forms.”

Pat Kennedy MPS, member of Formation Team

Ministries Mass – Tuesday 16 July 2019

On Tuesday 16 July at St. Joseph's Church, Hartlepool, Bishop Robert celebrated Mass to mark the movement of Jeremy Cain (Holy Family, Hartlepool), Sibby Thomas (St. Joseph's, Sunderland) and Neil Haggerstone (Our Lady of the Rosary, Peterlee) from Candidate to Lector in their training for the Permanent Diaconate. They were accompanied by family, friends, Parish priests, members of the Diaconate Community, parishioners and the Formation Team.

Pat Kennedy MPS Coordinator of Studies.

Ministry Mass 2019

A Treasure In Clay – Walking With God’ – 22 to 24 February 2019

Over the weekend of 22 – 24 February 2019, the Diocesan Deacons in Training attended their annual retreat along with their wives. This year's Retreat was entitled, ‘A Treasure in Clay. Walking with God’ and was led by Fr. Paul Jenkins OCARM.

For some it was said to be their favourite retreat to date. It was felt to be a very rewarding time together, an amazing weekend of learning, fellowship, memories and inspiration, It was provoking, but also confirming of faith and it challenged us to go beyond where we are and dream where we could be.

“Fr. Paul gave me the courage to go below the surface and look at what prevents me believing in who I am, the person that God knows me to be. The person God dreams that I will discover and come to love as much as God does. Hopefully I have begun that journey this weekend.”

Pat Kennedy MPS, member of Formation Team