The Ministry of Permanent Deacons was introduced in the Diocese of Kerry on Sunday Sept 13th 2009 by Bishop Bill Murphy.
The role of the Permanent Deacon involves three major areas of ministry: Liturgy, Sacred Scripture and Charity.
(a) Preparation for the sacraments and officiating at Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.
(b) Distributing the Eucharist at Parish Liturgies and bringing the Eucharist to the sick and dying.
(c) Presiding at Benediction and other prayer services.
2. Sacred Scripture.
(a) Proclaiming the Gospel and Preaching.
(b) Promoting Bible Reading and Study.
(c) Providing opportunities for Religious Education for all age groups.
(a) Ministering to the poor and marginalised.
(b) Visiting the sick.
(c) Visiting those in Prison.
Who can become a Deacon?
Applicants should be men of faith and of good character, disposed and willing to give the required time and effort to the Diaconate Formation Program.
1. Candidates must be men of strong faith and devotion to the Church.
2. Married men should be between the ages of 35-60 and single men between 25-60. In the case of single men a vow of celibacy will be required.
3. They must be willing and able to undertake a four-year period of study and preparation (part-time) in Theology and Scripture.
4. They must have experience in serving the local community.
Background to the Permanent Diaconate
In the early Church there were three distinct ministries within the Sacrament of Holy Orders: bishops, priests and deacons. The Acts of the Apostles tells us about the selection of St Stephen and six others to serve as Deacons: The twelve summoned the disciples and said; ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables Therefore brothers, pick out seven men of good repute full of the spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty.” In recent centuries the Order of Deacon within the Roman Rite, was seen as a step towards becoming a priest. At the Second Vatican Council a decision was taken to restore the diaconate as a distinct ministry of service within the Church to help renew and enrich the Church’s mission to the world.
What is a Deacon?
He is a man called by the Bishop of the Diocese to Ordination. He is ordained to serve the Church in a threefold ministry:
The Ministry of Charity – He is particularly called to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised, to coordinate the local church’s response to their needs and have a special care for matters of social justice. He fosters and supports parish groups and organisations.
The Ministry of the Word – He proclaims the Gospel and preaches at Mass. He presides over Services other than the Mass. He officiates at Funeral and Burial Services.
The Ministry of the Altar – He assists the Bishop or Priest at Mass. He distributes Holy Communion at Mass, in hospital and in the homes of the sick, the housebound and the dying. He baptise and prepares people for the Sacrament of Baptism. He officiates at Marriages and prepares couples for the Sacrament of Marriage.
Some Deacons are transitory – that is, they are ordained for a relatively short time as part of their journey to Ordination as a Priest. Indeed over time this became the norm in the Church until the Second Vatican Council.
Some Deacons are Permanent. They remain in this calling for the rest of their lives. They can be single or married. This is how it was in the early Church. If single, they take a promise of celibacy when they are ordained and they live from then on as celibates. If married, they may not remarry should their spouse predecease them.
If you feel the Lord is calling you to the Diaconate please discuss the matter first with your local priest.
Fr. Nicholas Flynn,
Director for the Permanent Diaconate,