THE GIFT OF THE DIACONATE - What is a deacon?

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Home > Media > News > THE GIFT OF THE DIACONATE - What is a deacon?
THE GIFT OF THE DIACONATE - What is a deacon?

By Deacon Nick MacFarlane

What a joy to see men being ordained to serve in our Archdiocese.  Recently Deacon Ben Brooks was ordained to the priesthood.  Soon, other seminarians will be ordained as deacons. Indeed, all priests and bishops were first ordained as deacons. 

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has re-established the order of deacons as a permanent part of the ordained ministry.  Besides the archbishop and the priests, we now also have married men serving as deacons in various roles and parishes.  These deacons are not intended to become priests, but minister permanently as deacons.

The Catholic Standard will be publishing five articles in a series entitled ‘The Gift of the Deaconate’. The articles will explain more about the role of deacons to help us better understand the gift of the diaconate in the Church.

'What is a Deacon?'

Deacons in the Catholic Church are ordained ministers.  Like the priests and bishops, they have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders in order to serve the Church.  The Sacrament of Ordination, like Baptism and Confirmation, imprints a character to conform the recipient to Christ. They are permanent and unrepeatable sacraments. These sacraments change what we are.

In Baptism and Confirmation we become members of the Body of Christ, the Church, and we are spiritually equipped to become Christ's missionary disciples. The Sacrament of Holy Orders establishes the Sacred Ministry through which Christ continues his presence as head of the Body and shepherd of the flock.   

The ministry of deacons, like that of bishops or priests, is primarily directed towards their brothers and sisters in faith.  The deacon helps them to grow in holiness and encourages and equips them to become missionary disciples of Jesus Our Saviour.  Deacons minister by preaching and teaching, by ministering in the Mass and other sacraments and sacramentals and in pastoral ministry.

At ordination, the bishop gives the deacon the Book of the Gospels saying "Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."  So, in a real sense, the deacon is the Herald of Christ and of His Good News.

Next month: A look into the ministry of deacons and the roles they perform.