The Permanent Diaconate is an important ministry in the church. Many people don't necessarily know the ins and outs of the work of our deacons but it is a tremendous blessing to have more than 100 of these men serving faithfully throughout the Archdiocese.
Here's to the Class of 2010:
Mr. Curtis Boone - St. Padre Pio Parish, Woodbridge
Mr. Silverio Fidalgo - St. Patrick's Parish, Mississauga
Mr. David MacInnis - St. Gregory the Great Parish, Oshawa
Mr. Damien McGowan - St. Philip Neri Parish, Toronto
Mr. Michael Miranda - St. John Chrysostom Parish, Newmarket
Mr. Alan Morris - St. Leo's Parish, Etobicoke
Mr. Michael O'Mahoney - Newman Centre Catholic Mission, Toronto
Mr. Don O'Shaughnessy - St. Martin de Porres Parish, Scarborough
Mr. Rudy Ovcjak - St. Isaac Jogues, Pickering
Mr. Joseph Owusu-Afriyie - St. Andrew's Parish, Etobicoke
Mr. Sarfaraz Pinto - St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Markham
Mr. Domenico Pullano - St. David's Parish, Maple
Mr. Terence Rebello - Prince of Peace Parish, Scarborough
Mr. Don Roberts - St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Mississauga
Mr. James Shaughnessy - Good Shepherd Parish, Thornhill
Mr. Larry Shaw - St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Bramalea
So for those who may be embarassed to ask or are just unsure of what a deacon is and does, we've created a simple FAQ (below) that should help give you a quick "Permanent Diaconate 101" - this is another example of the type of resource we create for the media to help bring them up to speed on these types of issues. Or for those more visually inclined a short 15 minute video produced recently can give you a quick overview of this important ministry.
What is a Permanent Deacon? Permanent Deacons assist parish priests in addition to providing spritual support to the community, for which they’re ordained. Following an extensive four year formation period which is highlighted by their ordination, deacons are assigned a parish for liturgical service as well as a specific ministry within the community (ie. Hospital Ministry, Prison Chaplaincy, etc.)
What is the difference between Permanent and Transitional Deacons? Transitional Deacons go on to become ordained priests in the Roman Catholic tradition whereas, permanent deacons remain a permanent deacon indefinitely.
Who can be a Permanent Deacon? Permanent deacons are married or single men over the age of 35. Those who desire to pursue the permanent diaconate must enjoy the health, time, academic ability and support of their family needed for the years of preparation. After ordination, they must make specific commitments of time and talent to the Church without compromising their family, marital or joy responsibilities.
Are Permanent Deacons married? Although some deacons are single, the vast majority are married and share their dedicaton to ministry with their wives. As part of their vows for ordination, married deacons may not remarry if their spouse passes on. Those not married before ordination are not able to marry and make promises to remain celibate. Deacons’ wives are an important part of their formation process, with the couple going through much of the process together.
Are Deacons Paid? Is this their full-time job? Deacons are a critical component of spiritual support and service within the Archdiocese of Toronto. Permanent Deacons often hold secular full-time jobs in addition to their duties as deacons. Apart from their service at their assigned Catholic parish, they will spend countless hours of ministry in prisons, hospitals, seniors’ homes and other areas where people cannot normally attend church.
Can a deacon celebrate Mass? Are they just a married priest? No. Only a priest or bishop may celebrate Mass. Their primary role is to assist the Bishop or the Presiding Priest at Mass. A Deacon reads the Gospel and preaches when required. Because they have a ministry to care for the poor and sick they may also prepare and read the Prayers of the Faithful at Masses which they are present. Deacons can baptize, witness marriages and preside at wake services and funerals (where the eucharist is not celebrated) in addition to assisting the priest at the Eucharist.
What do Deacons wear? When in liturgical dress (vestments), deacons wear an alb (long white tunic), stole (long, narrow strip of cloth, draped over the neck) and dalmatic (outer vestment). When working actively in their Ministry outside of Church, you may see a Deacon wearing a distinctive Roman Collar. When in street clothes, deacons do not perscribe to any distinctive dress.
What is an Acolyte? In the second year of formation, candidates for the Permanent Diaconate are instituted (appointed) to the Ministry of Acolyte. An acolyte is aurhorized to serve at the altar and assist the priest by preparing the altar and sacred vessels used in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. He may also distribute Holy Communion.
What is a Lector? In their third year of formation, candidates for the Permanent Diaconate are elevated to the Ministry of Lector, this is the ministry of reading at Mass. The Lector can proclaim all the readings execept the Gospel.
So there you have it. Your brief primer on the role of the Permanent Deacon in our family of faith.
Congratulations to the sixteen newest deacons of the Archdiocese of Toronto and their families who have supported them throughout this faith journey. Our prayers are with you as you begin this exciting new chapter of ministry!
Photos: Archdiocese of Toronto