Today, kicks off a year of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the restoration of the permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Church.
Deacons are ministers in the Catholic Church who are configured to Christ to serve the People of God in Word, Liturgy and Charity both in the Church and in the world. The title, “deacon,” comes from the Greek word for service, “diakonia.” Through the sacrament of Holy Orders (ordination), deacons are configured to Jesus the Servant who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Ordination to the diaconate goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institution by the community, for it confers gifts of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a ‘sacred power.’ The laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination” (CCC 1538).
Are all deacons the same?
While all deacons share an identical ministry, holiness and responsibility. All deacons may proclaim the Gospel at Mass and preach. They may baptize, witness marriages, and preside over funeral liturgies. Deacons may teach and work with the faithful in sacramental preparation. Deacons lead retreats, bring communion to the sick and homebound, and minister to persons in prison. Deacons are the visible sign of Jesus Christ in the world. Deacons bound for the priesthood are sometimes called “transitional” deacons because of the short time that they are deacons before being ordained to the priesthood. “Permanent” deacons are those who remain in a life-long ministry of service. It is these brothers whom we join in celebrating this year as their ministry as grown in the last 50 years.