New document highlights the role of permanent deacons in the Church
Painting: St. Peter consecrates Lawrence of Rome as a deacon in a fresco from 1447-49 by Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who was martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258 AD.
By Brent Mattson
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--Recently Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, announced a program to form permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Now the archbishop has released a pastoral letter (available on the Archiocese of Vancouver's website ) providing more detail.
"The permanent diaconate is meant to be a driving force for the Church's service toward the local Christian communities," he wrote in the letter, released Feb. 25.
"Because the deacon is a public and living icon of Christ the Servant within the Church, his ministry encourages all the baptized to commit themselves to service of the ecclesial community and the world," the archbishop said.
Quoting Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Miller wrote that the permanent deacon is a great gift of God to the Church.
The archbishop noted that the encouragement of recent Popes, as well as recommendations from the Archdiocesan Synod, Presbyteral Council, and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, led him to the decision that it was time to call permanent deacons to serve the archdiocese.
"Increasingly we recognize that every baptized person has a calling to share the faith," he wrote.
Because men must be between the ages of 35 and 65 to enter the diaconate, the archbishop said they will bring experience from their secular careers and family lives that will help expand the presence of Church ministries in the various spheres of public life.
"Permanent deacons will add yet another dimension to our witness and service, while supporting the ministries that are already exercised in such fruitful ways," the archbishop wrote. "Deacons are ordained to proclaim the Gospel and preach the Word of God at the liturgy, as well as to be a herald of this Word to the faithful and the world."
Though they cannot celebrate Mass, deacons will have a liturgical role at Mass, as well as the ability to baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals and burials, and conduct prayer services for the sick and dying.
The archbishop said that deacons are a sign of the Church's service to the world, and therefore must be dedicated to works of charity and justice.
"I will expect them to bring the poor to the Church and the Church to the poor, whether that poverty is material, spiritual, or cultural," he said.
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