“We bring the Gospel outside the four walls of the church; we take the Church out to the world.” This is how Deacon David Kushner expresses the mission of deacons.
As the Director of the Diaconate Formation Office for the Diocese of Cleveland, Deacon David’s job is to accompany and form those discerning a vocation to the permanent diaconate. Currently, 20 men are in the five-year program, receiving human, spiritual, pastoral, and academic formation at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe.
Deacon David has also served as a deacon for 10 years at St. Mary Church in Collinwood, his home parish. His vocation story began when his pastor, Fr. John Kumse, and another priest each suggested he become a deacon – all within the same week. His wife Marie’s response, “I always thought you’d make a good deacon,” surprised him. “As a convert, I didn’t even know what a deacon was,” he recalls.
Mindful that the original Greek term, diakonos, means “servant,” Deacon David characterizes the deacon’s role as “serving in whatever way is needed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” He describes it as “a reactionary role: it depends on what people need.”
Deacons express Christ’s love in myriad ways, through a three-fold ministry of liturgy, Word, and charity. Fr. Kumse notes that Deacon David “has been instrumental with outreach to the community by initiating our Hot Meals Program and Mobile Food Pantry and Produce distribution and by sharing the concern and charity of the Church with so many people who come to us.”
“We take the Gospel to the poor, wherever they are,” explains Deacon David. “Not just the materially poor, but also the poor of spirit, mind, body — those who can’t come to church. We take the Church to the poor, and bring the poor to the Church.”