The Christmas and New Year period can be a very busy time, not just liturgically but also socially. It can also be a fulfilling time. It is a time for family gatherings and catching up with friends. Sometimes, instead of feeling relaxed and recharged, one often feels extremely tired. I hope that your Christmas period was an enjoyable one and that you did find time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends.
As I am sure you are all very much aware, following the Christmas period, the Church moves into Ordinary time for a few weeks before the next busy period of Lent and Easter. This period of Ordinary time can be a time for slowing down and reflection. It is also a time for beginning as the Church sets the season with readings about how Jesus began his mission on earth. I guess, for the diaconal community, the same thing has taken place. Our conference that was held in Canberra towards the end of last year was a very busy time and the learning that took place and the challenges that were set before us really gave those present a sense of enlightenment and encouragement. However, now that it has calmed down, the diaconal community has entered into a period of calmness as we contemplate the many challenges our guest speakers laid before us and how we can move forward. The Executive of the National Association of Deacons is doing its best to keep the spirit of that conference alive. I would invite you all to visit our website and see what is happening around Australia and the world. I would also encourage you to contribute to the website. Maybe you could write a reflection on the conference and how you have used what you heard and saw in your ministry. We would enthusiastically welcome any reflections of any kind to help keep our website relevant.
Speaking of our website, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Deacon Anthony Gooley for the outstanding work that he carried out over a 3 year period, firstly in designing and developing our website and then staying on as our website coordinator. He did a fantastic job in ensuring that our website remained current and vibrant and that the content changed regularly. On behalf of the diaconal community, I would like to thank him for the work that he did and know that we fully appreciated his efforts. I hope he continues to contribute regularly to the content as he has much to share. Deacon Bruce Talbot has kindly agreed to take on the role of website coordinator. Bruce is continuing in the same vein as Anthony. Please assist him by not only accessing the website regularly but by also contributing. The ways to contribute are clearly outlined on the website.
In early March, Deacon Jim Curtain and Deacon Russ Nelson will be representing the National Association of Deacons at the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference and will be meeting with the Bishops to give them an understanding of the diaconal community across Australia. The meeting will be the first time the NAD has met with the ACBC and we are really looking forward to this opportunity. The meeting will be used to inform the Bishops of the purpose of the NAD, a small summary of the survey that was carried out in 2013 and finally, outline to them the positive influence we believe we have on the Church in this country, the challenges that present themselves and how deacons can move forward. I would like to thank Jim and Russ for the work they did in preparing for this meeting and I look forward to reporting back the Bishop's response.
I hope that the Lord will continue to bless you all in your work and that 2014 is a fruitful year for you all.