Permanent deacons bringing Christ to the world
The Second Vatican Council reinvigorated the ancient order of deacons, reinstituting the permanent diaconate. By calling and ordaining deacons the Church is saying something fundamental: that service is at the heart of the human and divine mystery.
Deacons are a permanent feature of the Church and the Church is not fully herself wherever deacons, priests or bishops are lacking. Pope Francis is named after the most famous deacon in history.
Historically, the deacon served as the eyes and ears of the bishop and in practical ways as the heart and hands. He is a ‘go-between’ as it were between the secular and the Church.
Deacons are intermediaries, informing the community of the bishop’s wishes and, in return, conveying what the community reflects to the bishop.
It is a ministry that extends well beyond the walls of the church. The role does not detract from the vital role of an empowered lay faithful, and it should enrich it.
A vibrant diaconate will enhance and expand the ministry of the priesthood.
The gift and calling of the deacon is not for his own sake but for building up the Church in particular ways:
- To bring God's Word to believer and unbeliever alike;
- To preside over public prayer, to baptise, to assist at marriages and bless them;
- To give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial;
- Once he is consecrated by the laying on of hands, he will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop; and
- To celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world.
(Rite of Ordination of a Deacon)
In their active involvement in the community, their outreach to the poor and marginalised, and their fostering of Eucharistic communion, deacons sacramentalise the Church’s service.
The support of a deacon’s family is vital and essential for anyone contemplating the ordained ministry of the permanent diaconate.
Handbooks with further details of criteria and the role are available from Cecilia Zammit in the Chancery tel (02) 8838 3431, 0427 268 699.