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Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Calls For More Deacons As Reorganization Approaches

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- By day, he's a the chief clerk of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Pittsburgh, but after hours and on weekends, John Vaskov has been called to be something else -- a deacon in the Catholic Church.

"It is a call to serve the church and serve the people," says Vaskov.

And Bishop David Zubik wants to find more like him, requesting his priests to nominate men in their parishes for a deacon-in-training program.

"They're a tremendous help to me, and to the pastors who have deacons in their parishes," says Bishop Zubik.

They couldn't come at a more crucial time, Pittsburgh, like diocese across he country, is suffering from a dwindling number of both priests and parishioners.

Since 2000, Mass attendance is down by more than 40 percent, as are Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations and Holy Matrimony.

In April, the diocese will announce a massive reorganization of regionalized parishes and new priest assignments. As those priest become stretched over multiple churches, deacons like Vaskov can help pick up the slack, performing Baptisms and assisting at Mass.

While others, like retired businessman Tom Raymond, take over administrative duties -- like payroll, maintenance and budgets.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to serve our priests and our people and our deacons in the way the Lord has asked me to," said Raymond.

It takes five years to become a deacon.

"It's a time commitment for sure," sayd Vaskov. "Classes once a week, three hours at the Seminary."

But the bishop says this kind of commitment is needed to revitalize the church.

"As I go around our diocese and all of our parishes and schools, then it's going to begin to show in terms of the folks who are responding to leadership roles in the church, and deaconate is one of them," said Bishop Zubik.

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