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Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Considering the Call of the Permanent Diaconate"

From The Herald News
By John J. Oliveira

In June of 1967, Pope Paul VI restored the order of deacon as a permanent ministry in the Church. In August of the following year, the American bishops obtained permission to restore this ministry in our own Country.


Deacons are ordained to assist the bishop wherever the need exists in the Diocese at that time. Consideration in an assignment is given to the location of the deacon, his family and his occupation. An applicant must be willing and able to balance his commitment to his family, his work and the diaconate. After a period of discernment called Aspirancy, a period of information and deliberation, candidates will be required to attend four years of study with two semesters each year. Candidates are expected to have, as a minimum, a high school diploma. While applicants to the permanent diaconate can be married, if their spouse dies, they cannot remarry.

The ministry of a deacon is usually considered to be threefold. There is the Ministry of the Word, the Ministry of Liturgy and the Ministry of Service. Briefly, the Ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the gospel and preaching, catechetical instruction and evangelization.

The Ministry of the Liturgy entails specific liturgical roles such as preaching, baptizing, witnessing at marriages, distributing communion and officiating at wakes, funerals and burials.
The Ministry of Service is exemplified in varying ways, such as visiting the sick, helping in homeless shelters, distributing food to the hungry, assisting those in prison, etc. Many of our deacons are involved in these ministries here in our Diocese.

The permanent diaconate is different from the transitional deacon. The transitional deacon is in transit from diaconate to priesthood. A permanent deacon is one who will always remain a deacon. Both share in the same sacrament of Holy Orders.

The permanent diaconate is not for men who wanted to be priests and got married. It is not for men who want to be seen on the altar on Sunday in their own parish. It is not a call to prestige or acknowledgement by others; it is a call to ministry — to be ordered to the service of the church and of others.

In essence, it is a call from God. It is sensing that God is calling you to be more of a witness to the love of God in your life. It is a call that, of its very nature, demands sacrifice on your part; generosity of time, talent and hours of study to prepare you to serve others.

The call to ministry is a special call that must be accepted by your wife and family if you are married. One is unable to do this alone. Others must be willing to help and accept what you sense God is calling you to be.

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