(diakonia) and means "Servant." At the present time, only men are allowed to answer the call to Sacramental Ordination, to be a public sign to the world that the Church is really and truly "servant." The Deacon is called to speak in the name of that Church. He is called by his community to serve that community and anyone in need. His motivation is not to be just a part of another social agency. Rather, his motivation is to know the Heart of God and to be that Heart of God for God's people.
Permit me to tell you about being a "Deacon." Did you know that ALL of you were called to be "deacons" by virtue of your baptism and confirmation, both men and women? The word "deacon" comes from a Greek word
As an ordained minister of the Catholic Church, the Deacon serves in four areas: Word, Sacrament (or Liturgy), Charity, and Pastoral Governance.
+ Minister of the Word: The Deacon proclaims the Gospel at Mass and preaches the homily. He may teach at several age levels: adults, children, and/or youth. He can be a teacher or facilitator at RCIA classes, Retreats, baptismal classes for parents, prayer groups, and any number of catechetical situations. His involvement is not limited to his own parish.
+ Minister of Liturgy: The Deacon assists the priest or bishop during the liturgy. He is an ordinary minister of eucharist and an ordinary minister of baptism. He witnesses and blesses marriages, officiates at wakes, funerals and burial services. In effect, a Deacon performs many priestly functions except celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and anointing the sick. His primary role, however, remains that of "servant" to the community he serves.
+ Minister of Service: The most characteristic ministry of the Deacon is in service to those in need. He will be found working with the youth, the divorced, the sick in hospitals, in nursing homes, or in private homes; the poor, the rejected, the immigrants, the dying (hospice), those in jail or prison, the addicts, and on college campuses. The list is not exhaustive.
+ Ministry of Pastoral Governance: Many deacons across the nation serve as Parish Administrators due to the absence of a priest in a parish. The authority stems from several episcopal sources, including Lumen Gentium #29 (a deacon is "dedicated to functions of administration"). The new Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1596) also addresses this administrative dimension, by outlining the four major diaconal tasks pertaining to a deacon.
If you are already serving God's people in one or more "service" areas, and enjoy doing that; if you are at least 32 years old; and if you have some leadership ability: perhaps you ought to pray for the gift of discernment of your vocation, and talk with your pastor about the permanent diaconate. This is NOT a "retiree's club," as my deacon friend Dr. Bill Ditewig reminds us all. It is a Vocation, and calls for prayerful discernment as our response to God's call.
Does the following description apply to you?
"A deacon helps others and enjoys doing it. He is a team player who enhances the qualities of the people in his group. He accommodates to other people's needs. He knows how to relate to people and likes them. He places high priority on the importance of family. He has a great deal of energy. He is sensitive to the feelings of others. He is able to build trust with almost every one. He is "a man of prayer." He is responsible and cooperative with ecclesial authority, without being either overly submissive or rebellious. A good deacon is always service-oriented, consistent, well-balanced and realistic." Suggestion: see what Holy Scriptures says; read 1 Tim 3:8-13.
In the Omaha Archdiocese we have a saying that describes the calling of a Deacon: "Wash Some Feet." We are called to wash the feet of others, that is, to humbly serve them, following the example of Jesus as described in John 13.
If you want more info from the Omaha area, send Deacon Paul Rooney an e-mail.
You may also listen to our current Director of the Permanent Diaconate in the Omaha Archdiocese, Deacon James Keating, Ph.D. Listen to his discussion of the deaconís life, in a radio interview (Click here):
(Go back to Deacon Paul's Home Page)