The Permanent Diaconate represents:
- The first of three ranks of Holy Orders: Diaconate, Presbyterate, and Episcopate. It is a distinct and permanent rank.
- A lifetime commitment to serving Christ's Church and all God's people.
- A three-fold ministry: Charity and Justice with the deacon serving as Witness and Guide, Word with the deacon serving as Evangelizer and Teacher, and Liturgy with the deacon serving as Sanctifier.
The diaconate has its roots in the Church of the first century. In fact, those serving in this ministry are first recognized in Scripture, in the Acts of the Apostles. By the end of the first millennium, the diaconate had lost its permanency and was then recognized as a transitional step for men seeking ordination to the priesthood. The Council of Trent (1545 - 1563) unsuccessfully called for the restoration of the permanent diaconate. It wasn't until June 18, 1967, that Pope Paul VI implemented the Second Vatican Council's decision to reinstitute the permanent diaconate in the universal Church.
The ministry of word calls the deacon to be evangelizer and teacher. Not only is he called to teach and evangelize in the traditional sense as instructor and preacher, but he takes the spirit and message of Jesus to the public arena through his generous sharing of time and talent and his concern for those around him, especially the poor. These activities engage the deacon "New Evangelization" in a most profound and meaningful way.
The ministry of liturgy calls the deacon to assist at the altar, to distribute the Eucharist especially as an ordinary minister of the Cup, to witness weddings, to preside at funerals, to administer viaticum to the sick, to lead Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, and to preside at other rites and celebrations as appropriate. A vibrant diaconate will enhance and expand the ministry of both the presbyterate and the episcopate.
The ministry of charity and justice calls the deacon to not only serve those in need, but also to defend and act as a voice for all those who are poor, marginalized and defenseless, those who are victims, those who are ignored or despised by society. Again, to quote Pope John Paul II, "This is at the very heart of the Diaconate to which you have been called: to be servant of the mysteries of Christ and, at the same time to be servant of your brothers and sisters..." Although the deacon's service begins at the altar and returns there, "the deacons' service in the ministry of word and liturgy would be severely deficient if his exemplary witness and assistance in the Church's ministry of charity and justice did not accompany it."
If you feel that God may be calling you to the permanent diaconate or if you would like more information about the formation process for permanent deacons, please contact Chris Newkirk at 715-394-0204 or email@example.com for more information.
To learn more about the ministry and life of the permanent deacon in the Diocese of Superior, please contact Deacon Dennis Geisler at 715-394-0235 or firstname.lastname@example.org