Friday, December 5, 2008

A Primer on the Diaconate

December 7, 2008

The Diaconate: Did you know …?

Strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests, deacons serve the people of God in the ministry of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity.
Lumen Gentium 29

A Sacrament of Holy Orders
· In 1968, the Diaconate was restored as a permanent order of ordained ministry in the U.S. by Pope Paul VI.
· The unique relationship the deacon has with the bishop is a carry-over from ancient times.
· Deacons contribute to the life of the Church both locally and nationally.
· The Diaconate is a sacramentally-graced, laid-on hands, ordained ministry that is growing and developing—not as a replacement to the priesthood, but an ordained ministry of Service in its own right.

Word, Sacrament, and Charity
· The Diaconate is a 3-fold apostolic ministry of the bishop: Word, Sacrament, and Charity.
· In discerning the call by God to serve, the deacon makes a formal, vowed commitment to be a gospel witness in the parish, school, workplace, and community.
· The preparation for the diaconate is a minimum of 4 years of discernment, classes, prayer, discussion, study, and collaboration.

The Role of the Deacon’s Family
· The deacon’s wife and children share significantly in the preparation of deacons. Their contribution is recognized by the Church.
· Wives of deacon candidates are welcome to attend classes with the husbands, and many do, in the Diocese of Columbus.
· The Church maintains a respectfulness of the deacon’s personal life, spouse, and family.
· Deacons integrate family obligations, professional life, and ministerial responsibilities.
Pope Paul VI observed that the diaconate is “a ministry not a profession.”

The Diaconate: Statistics and Trends
· The average age of the deacon in the U.S. is 62, while worldwide it is 41 years of age. The minimum age for a deacon is 35 (CARA 2004)
· While 93% of the deacons are married, marriage is not a requirement of the diaconate (CARA post-ordination 2007).
· 188 out of 195 dioceses in the U.S. have deacons. There are 16,661 deacons nationwide (CARA 2007).
· The Diaconate has grown by 3 percent nationally over the last 10 years (CARA 2007).
· Bishops are expanding the role of deacons outside the parish and into the diocese and this trend is expected to increase.

Sacramental/Liturgical Roles
A deacon implements the mission of his parish using his gifts and talents, according to the needs of his parish. Usually the deacon is a resident of that parish. Deacon roles:
· Assisting at Mass
· Baptism and baptism preparation
· Weddings and marriage preparation
· Distribution of Viaticum to the Dying
· Funerals/Wakes
· Preaching and proclaiming the Word
· Liturgy of the Word with communion
· Presiding at liturgy
· Pastoral Care
· Sick, elderly, bereaved, homebound, prisoners, homeless, campus, teens, hospital, ER, chaplain, and counseling
· Religious Ed – Catechist training
· Social Services – parish pantry, homeless, immigrants, clothing distribution, all social concerns
· Parish Administration
· Evangelization/RCIA
· Diocesan Service – field advocate, marriage tribunal, rep. on councils and committees

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