By restoring the Vocation of Permanent Deacon within Holy Orders, the Church is making an effort to reach out to the laity. The Deacon brings the image of the “Kingly Servant” of Jesus into his function within the secular world. While a few deacons serve fulltime on a parish level, most are out in the secular world where Jesus is not often welcome.

Most Permanent Deacons have secular professions in addition to their sacred vocations.  How do we, as deacons, serve with love and truth in our secular workplaces?  Brokenness is around us in our offices, factories, schools and hospitals; on the construction sites and city streets or rural areas where we work.

Often, our coworkers misunderstand the Catholic faith and are sometimes even hostile to it.  More and more of our coworkers are former Catholics and those with no religious affiliation at all.  Many now come from predominantly non-Christian countries and are not even familiar with the Christian message.

Even in our parishes, where one might hope to find security from a harsh anti-Catholic world, our faithful are filled with pain and suffering. In their attempts to protect themselves, they often come to Church with their protective walls and familiar masks in place.

The world has taught them that through self-protection, pretense, and remaining distant, they (through time) can heal of their wounds. Despite this belief, their hearts have this annoying ache that won’t go away. Something is missing and they are not satisfied.

Some One is missing!

It is in this reality, present in our churches and secular workplaces, that Jesus sends the Permanent Deacon. Just as the Servant King Jesus entered the world humbly (Philippians Chapter 2), so too does he send the deacon into the pain and suffering. He seeks to use not only our understanding of theology but also our hearts to minister to the broken hearted.

How might we be open to the creativity and power of the Holy Spirit in our work environments, even where we might be prohibited from explicitly proclaiming our faith?  We’ll talk about ways we can witness to Christ in our challenging times and places.  We will examine the obstacles that prevent them from experiencing the life and love of God. We will look at the ways the enemy is trying to undermine our efforts of leading others to the Heart of God.

Following this presentation, we will spend some time in small groups discussing our particular issues support each other in prayer.

It’s time we pull up our sleeves and give witness to the rest of the Church of how to minister to the hearts of the people.

Dcn. Craig Anderson and Dcn. Ralph Poyo will be speaking at the 2016 Priests, Deacons, Seminarians Retreat this summer.  Hope to see you there!


Deacon Craig Anderson is a life-long resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, except for the time he spent at Franciscan University, where he received a Master’s degree in theology and ministry.  While at FUS, he met Mary Therese, his wife.  They have five adult children, some of whom have also attended FUS.  He serves the Byzantine Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Pope.  In recent years, much of his focus has been men’s ministry.  His secular profession is a Fire investigator and fire prevention officer with a municipal Fire Department.

Deacon Ralph Poyo
Deacon Ralph Poyo


Deacon Ralph Poyo grounds his ministry in his relationship with the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit. He has been in ministry for over 30 years, serving the Church as a youth minister and catechist, and he became a deacon in 2004. He founded a new Ohio-based apostolate called New Evangelization Ministries (NEM) that serves pastors and parish staff, equipping them with training, resources, and strategies for helping parishes become more effective in evangelization and discipleship. He has produced the first two booklets in the NEM Discipleship Formation Series. They are entitled Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me and One Truth – Jesus Christ. He co-authored a book with Fr. Dave Pivonka, entitled Encountering Jesus, From Discovery to Discipleship. Deacon Ralph leads parish missions as well as retreats for men, women, and parish staff around the country. He is extremely passionate about helping people experience the person of Christ in everyday life. He and his wife, Susan, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.