The Permanent Diaconate Explained
Would you like to know more about the Permanent Diaconate? In this video, Bishop Michael Router, Father Brian White, Deacon Kevin Divine, Deacon Paul Mallon, Deacon Tony Hughes, Deacon Martin Barlow, and his wife Ursula, Deacon John Taaffe and Dr Eunan McCreesh (Candidate for the Permanent Diaconate) answer some of your questions about the Diaconate in Dromore Diocese and the Archdiocese of Armagh.
Permanent Diaconate Vocations Director:
If you feel you may have a vocation to Diaconate, then please contact Rev. Frank Rice, details below, who will be happy to talk to you more about your calling. You could also contact a priest or deacon that you know, who can help you with your discernment.
Director: Rev. Mr Kevin Devine, C/O St Peter's Parish office. Telephone 02838323161 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the Diaconate?
The diaconate is an ordained ministry, of which there are three: bishop, priest and deacon. In December 2006, the Irish bishops announced the publication of the National Directory and Norms for the Permanent Diaconate, which has been approved by the Holy See.
The ministry dates from the time of the apostles. In the New Testament (Acts 6), the twelve apostles agreed to dedicate themselves to prayer and to the service of the word, and handed over the duty of looking after orphans and widows to others. It was from this that the ministry of the diaconate emerged.
The Second Vatican Council (1960s) introduced a rediscovery of the permanent diaconate as an important role in the Church.
Today candidates on the path to priesthood, become deacons a year before they are ordained, and during the Holy Orders for diaconate, they take on the commitment to celibacy.
The word ‘deacon’ means ‘service’.
What Deacons Do?
The diaconate is an ordained ministry, but unlike the other two ministries with Holy Orders, married men may apply to be permanent deacons. Deacons would not normally wear a clerical collar, but do wear vestments when officiating at the liturgy.
Deacons can read the Gospel, preach, baptise, preside at funerals and weddings and bring communion to the sick, but they may not anoint the sick, say Mass or hear Confessions.
Who can be a Deacon?
According to the new directory on the diaconate, candidates for the permanent diaconate will be men with a good knowledge of the Gospel, a well established spiritual life, and a proven willingness to serve others, even at some personal cost.
The minimum age for admission to the permanent diaconate is twenty-five years for a celibate candidate, and thirty-five years for a married candidate. The maximum age is sixty years. While married men may be ordained, deacons who are widowed may not remarry.
Study for Diaconate?
It will take four years for a man to become a permanent deacon – a preliminary year, before he is accepted as a candidate, followed by three years of formation, in a part-time course, involving the study of theology and philosophy, as well as pastoral, spiritual and human formation.
The Role of the Diaconate
The bishops emphasise that deacons are not a replacement for the priest. They said they were concerned that all Catholics would be helped to participate actively in the life of the Church, and “the diaconate should facilitate that rather than be in any sense an impediment to that participation”.