Deacons and their families from around the world were invited by Pope Francis to make a pilgrimage to Rome from 27 to 29 May to participate in the Jubilee for Deacons as part of the Year of Mercy. Among the 2,000 deacons were Rev Kevin Duffy and his wife Pat, Rev Tony Kerrigan, and Rev Stephen Crowther and his wife Patricia from the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
The deacons were divided into different language groups to hear a series of talks, the first of which was: 'The Deacon: Image of Mercy for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation'. Deacon Greg Kandra of the diocese of Brooklyn, New York said a deacon is called by the Church to be on the "front line ... to be a witness to compassion", helping those who are hungry or poor, whether materially or spiritually.
On the Saturday, following a pilgrimage through the Holy Door, a number of cardinals provided catechesis on 'The Deacon: Called to be a dispenser of Charity in the Christian Community'. Cardinal Peter Turkson based his reflections on Hebrews chapter three and, using Moses and Christ as a model, he said that all clergy – deacons, priests and bishops – should aspire to be a "faithful servant" which is often translated as "trustworthy", i.e. to whom God will be able to surrender his people.
The pilgrimage concluded with Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter's Square. The Holy Father focused on the fact deacons must be good and faithful servants: "One who serves is not a slave to his own agenda, but ever ready to deal with the unexpected, ever available to his brothers and sisters and ever open to God's constant surprises". He added: "A servant knows how to open the doors of his time and inner space for those around him, including those who knock on those doors at odd hours, even if that entails setting aside something he likes to do or giving up some well-deserved rest. Dear deacons, if you show that you are available to others, your ministry will not be self-serving but evangelically fruitful."