Three deacons mark 35-year milestone anniversary

Deacon Ronald Darschewski
Deacon Ronald DarschewskiThe original catalyst that prompted Deacon Ron Darschewski, 70, to consider a future in the diaconate program came by way of the satisfaction he experienced as a catechist for children in the religious education program at his parish in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.

“During this time, seeing the joy which the children had as they grew in both knowledge and relationship with the Lord, moved me to further work with adults and the rest just seemed to blossom from there,” he said. Deacon Darschewski was ordained in Joliet on May 1, 1979; and served as a parish-based director of adult faith formation for 10 years, until moving to the Archdiocese of Denver in 2003. In Colorado, he works as director of religious education at St. Louis Parish in Louisville.

He enjoys seeing others come to a deeper relationship with God through the various ministries he’s been involved with including: religious education, RCIA, taking the Eucharist to the hospitalized and home bound, and working with couples preparing for marriage. In his professional life, he was employed in the printing industry for 30 years.

Deacon Darschewski has been married to his wife, Nancy, for 51 years; the couple has 10 children and 23 grandchildren. “Knowing that they have been very supportive from the very beginning has given me the strength to reach out to others,” he said of his family. “In addition, being married, a father, and now a grandfather, has assisted me in the way I respond to the various situations that arise through my ministry.”

When possible, he and Nancy enjoy traveling and recently went to Rome where they had an opportunity to be present at a Mass in St. Peter’s celebrated by Pope Francis where 10 men were ordained to the priesthood.

Deacon Richard Grimler
Deacon Richard GrimlerBefore becoming a deacon, Richard Grimler, 76, and his wife of 49 years, Judith, were always active in their Bloomington, Ill., parish in the Diocese of Peoria, though he was “interested in doing more in the Church than what I was doing,” he told the Denver Catholic Register from his Fort Collins home Aug. 6. That call led to his ordination to the diaconate Nov. 18, 1979, in Peoria. He was not only the first deacon in his parish, but the first in Bloomington. “It was new to people, so there were challenges,” he said. “But I enjoyed being the trailblazer.”

Deacon Grimler moved to the Archdiocese of Denver in 2000, to Fort Collins, to be closer to family. Two of the couple’s four daughters live in the Parker area, the other two in Indiana and Michigan. He served at St. Joseph Parish until 2006 when retiring from active ministry though he continues to help out at the parish as needed. For the last five years, he has continued to serve by leading a Communion service and discussion group a couple of Sundays a month for a small group of convicted sex offenders in the area.

Deacon Grimler and Judith have prepared many couples for marriage, a task he really enjoyed; and he also enjoys giving homilies. “To get feedback that my homily may have been of value to someone has been very rewarding,” he said. He also found visiting the sick in the hospital to be a rewarding experience.

The couple has 10 grandchildren. Now retired from a career in accounting, Deacon Grimler enjoys being home, taking care of the house and watching sports on TV.

Deacon Thomas Quinlan
Deacon Thomas QuinlanAfter being ordained in the Diocese of San Angelo, Texas, Deacon Thomas Quinlan brought his ministry to Denver. He was ordained in January 1979.

His calling to the diaconate came to him after the “newly ordained deacon in our parish died quite suddenly,” Deacon Quinlan shared.

“I felt that God was calling me to be his replacement,” he said.

He moved to Denver with his wife, Glenys, to whom he’s been married for 51 years, and their two sons.

Deacon Quinlan has served at the parishes of Christ the King in Evergreen; Our Lady of the Pines and St. Elizabeth, both in Conifer; and Good Shepherd and St. Jude, both in Lakewood. He is now helping with baptism preparation, marriage preparation and visits the homebound from Christ the King.

He said his family has been very supportive of his diaconal ministry. In his spare time, Deacon Quinlan is an amateur radio operator and operates a private winery, which produced wine for St. John Paul II during his 1993 World Youth Day visit.

He is also selling copies of his book “Another Set of Hands: A Collection of Short Diaconal Stories” published by the Alt Publishing Co. in 2012.


COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.