Permanent Deacon: Ordained to Serve

What is a permanent deacon?

“Find among yourselves, brothers, seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom.” (Acts of the Apostles 6:3)

The deacon is a minister at the heart of the community.

Most of the time, he is a married man, possibly a father or even a grandfather.

He can have any type of job: welder, nurse, electrician, teacher... he has a job or a profession to support his family and himself. He represents the love of the Church who is close to people and their everyday needs.

“It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you, and I have sent you to go and bear fruit” (John 15:16)

The deacon answers a call.

Why not me? Why not him?

The prerequisites are not that hard:

  • A good relationship with your Church
  • A family and professional balance
  • A few abilities
  • A strong inner desire to represent Christ the Servant
  • And mostly be passionate about the world and the Church.

That is all it takes to ask oneself the question “Why not become a permanent deacon?”
The call to the diaconate is one made in unity in the Church by all its members.
“There will first of all be a test and if they prove worthy they shall be given the ministry of the deacon” (1 Tm 3:10)

The deacon receives a formation

This formation is usually spread over a five year period. During the first year, the spouse (if there is one) is asked to attend the sessions to have a better idea of the process. During the other years, the presence of the spouse is optional.

The formation covers three aspects:

  1. A spiritual facet
  2. A pastoral aspect
  3. An intellectual process.

The last stage of formation is the pastoral internship of about a year’s time. This will allow the candidate to verify his new knowledge and experience and to integrate them in his formation.

The future deacon is mentored throughout his whole formation.

The mentoring is part of the formation process. The deacon is called, supported and encouraged during his whole process by his wife and children (if it applies), his Christian community, a spiritual counsellor, a mentor, and the whole community of deacons.

A personal accompaniment is always essential to offer the most favourable conditions under which to ascertain objectively the calling.

The candidate is deemed worthy to be ordained a deacon by the Christians who know him.

As it is the case for the call to the priesthood, it is the bishop who makes the final call, after the candidate has gone through the long formation and reflection process. However, certain members of the candidate’s entourage are called to give their opinion to the bishop.

The candidate is ordained a deacon by the bishop.

“At a lower level in the hierarchy, are the deacons who have received the laying on of hands, not for the priesthood, but for service.” (LG 28)

The deacon receives a sacrament that identifies him in all of his being and for the rest of his life.
By the laying on of hands he is no longer part of the laity but a minister ordained for service of the Church.
His ministry warrants him, in the Church and in the world, to present by his being, the face of Christ the Servant.
He receives a mission by the grace of the bishop in relation to the needs of his milieu.

He is called to live the three dimensions of the diaconal community:
  • The service of the Word
  • The service of the Liturgy
  • The service of Charity.
As he exercises his mission, the deacon closely collaborates with the bishop and the priests.

What does the permanent diaconate bring to a Christian community?

It brings a living witness to commitment, service, solidarity, openness.
It shows the example of man who, following Christ, wants to greet everyone as a brother or sister.
It allows a presence close to those who have gone astray and who come back to us, on the occasion of the baptism of their child, a marriage or a funeral.
It marks a presence reminding us that as baptized Christians, we too are responsible for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
It brings us a concrete sign that God is among us.
And it is also for the members of the Christian community an invitation to really take part in a fraternal and communal Church.

For more information:

Office for Pastoral Personnel
Permanent Diaconate

2000 west Sherbrooke St.
Montreal H3H 1G4
514-925-4300 ext. 278
MichaelDiGirolamo@diocesemontreal.org