While all Christians are called to serve others, the deacon is an icon of the Servant Christ in the Church.
''Let them be merciful and zealous, and let them walk according to the truth of the Lord who became servant to all." (St. Polycarp's admonition to deacons, Lumen Gentium, #29)
The Order of Deacons was restored as a permanent and public ministry in the Roman Church at the Second Vatican Council. The aims of the diaconate are to enrich and strengthen the works of service being performed by the Church, to enlist a new group of devout and competent married and single men in the active ministry of the Church, and to aid in extending needed charitable and liturgical service to the faithful. Wives of deacons assist in many of these areas. The number of deacons has continued to grow steadily, and there are now more than 19,000 permanent deacons ministering in the U.S. and 281 deacons in the Archdiocese of Boston.
A deacon is ordained to the three-fold ministry of word, liturgy, and charity, working in obedience to his bishop and in close fraternal cooperation with priests. Through Holy Orders, the deacon acquires a special relationship to the bishop. While all Christians are called to serve others, the deacon is an icon of the Servant Christ in the Church. The deacon should be a creative leader, one who gradually initiates a meaningful response of loving service from the community to those who are in spiritual or material need.
The deacon's ministry of work, liturgy, and charity may include:
Word: proclaiming the Gospel, preaching at Mass, catechesis, evangelization, and sacramental preparation.
Liturgy: serving at the Eucharistic table, solemnly baptizing, witnessing marriages, bringing viaticum to the dying, and presiding over funerals and burials.
Charity: serving the poor and marginalized, visiting the sick and imprisoned, ministering to the dying.
What are the requirements?
The deacon is called to serve after the manner of Jesus. He is first and foremost a Christian man in his usual employment and lifestyle, trained and formed by additional study and prayer for a special ministry to the community as an ordained minister. Consideration is given to the following as to a man's suitability for the Diaconate Formation Program:
Age: At least 35, and not older than 65, at time of ordination.
Status: Roman Catholic in good standing, sacramentally married, or single, of sound moral character, mature faith and possessing a sense of vocation to service.
Family: If married, a partner in a stable marriage for at least 10 years at time of ordination, who has expressed consent and support of his wife, and whose children are of such an age and adjustment so as not to be unduly affected by their father's pursuit of a life that involves special apostolic commitments.
Natural Gifts: Demonstrated the basic potential to develop the ministerial skills of relating to people speaking well and being a spiritual leader.
Spirituality: A man of prayer willing to make personal sacrifices to be a consecrated sign of God's love for others in his vocation to serve.
Education: Able to handle graduate level reading and discussion.
Employment: A person who reflects prior stability in career or work.
Church/Community Service Involvement: A man living the Christian life who has demonstrated active apostolic involvement and leadership among the people of God.
Formation: Able to complete a four-year program in intellectual, pastoral, spiritual, and human formation.
The best credential a candidate can bring to the diaconate is his past performance: personal, familial, professional, ecclesial, and social.
Inquiry program dates and registrations
The formation office for the permanent diaconate will be holding three inquiry sessions for men interested in becoming deacons.
Wives of inquirers are strongly recommended to attend sessions one and two.
-- Inquiry Session One: Who is the Deacon?
This session will be offered via ZOOM. For your convenience, please visit www.bostondiaconate.org or email Deacon Christopher Connelly at email@example.com to register and receive a link. Inquirers can choose one of the three dates for session 1: Sept. 27, Oct. 6, or Oct. 20. All sessions begin at 7 p.m.
-- Inquiry Session Two: Morning of Recollection and Discernment
This session will be held in person at the Pastoral Center at 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, on Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon.
-- Inquiry Session Three: Canonical Impediments and Issues
This session will be offered via ZOOM. Please visit www.bostondiaconate.org or email Deacon Christopher Connelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and receive a link. Inquirers can choose one of the two options for session three: Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. or Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
More information is available through the diaconate website: www.bostondiaconate.org or by contacting Deacon Christopher Connelly directly at email@example.com or 617-746-5649.
DEACON CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY IS THE DIRECTOR FOR THE PERMANENT DIACONATE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.