The call to the Order of Deacon is a call to a ministry of service. The service ministry of a deacon may take many forms. Most deacons serve in parish ministry, primarily working with the priest and parish staff in facilitating lay ministry. Like the priest, the deacon should call others to ministry by his witness and his example. As a facilitator of ministry, his task is to work with the pastor and parish staff in identifying areas of need. His task then is to train lay men and women to perform the ministry and, when the lay team is ready to take over, the deacon moves on to another area of need to repeat the process.
The diaconate was restored as a permanent ministry by Pope Paul VI, on June 18, 1967, upon the recommendation of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.
Answers to Common Questions
Q: What is the difference between a priest and a deacon?
A: The call to be deacon is to serve. The symbol of the ministry of the deacon is the basin and the towel, the items Jesus used when he washed the feet of the apostles, illustrating how we are called to love and serve others.
The deacon brings the needs of the marginalized the poor, the imprisoned, the sick and disabled to the altar. He sees that they are not forgotten or excluded from the liturgical and communal life of the parish. The deacon can preside at baptisms, weddings and funerals when there is no Mass.
The role of the priest is to help the members of his parish grow spiritually, leading them in ways to better love God and neighbour. Only the priest can preside at Mass and consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions, have authority to forgive sins, anoint the sick and the dying, and, with delegation from the Bishop, confirm.
The Role of the Deacon
Areas of ministries
Ministry of Charity – dedicated to works of Charity
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
Clothe the Naked
Visit the sick
Shelter the homeless
Ministry of the Word
Proclaim Scripture to the faithful
Instruct and exhort the people
Ministry of Liturgy
Administer Baptism solemnly
Reserve and distribute the Eucharist
Assist and bless Marriages in the name of the Church
Take Viaticum to the dying
Preside over the worship and the prayer of the faithful
Officiate at funerals and burial services
Jesus taught with authority, and he gave an example of leadership which involved service rather than power.