Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Diaconate
Q. Who may become a deacon?
A. A baptized male who meets the requirements for orders. This man may be a celibate lay man or a member of the consecrated state who desires to become a priest, or lay (can be married) man or celibate member of the consecrated state who desires to become a permanent deacon. If married, the candidate must have the consent of his wife.
Q. What do deacons do?
A. Here is a short list of the diaconal ministry and functions and listed by Fr. William Woestman in his book The Sacrament of Orders and the Clerical State:
- Minister of the word of God.
- Ordinary minister of Baptism.
- Assists in liturgy, performing the rites proper to a deacon.
- Ordinary minister for distributing Holy Communion.
- Minister for exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
- May receive delegation to witness and bless marriages.
- May dispense certain laws as provided for by law or by faculties.
- May impart blessings.
- Officiate at funeral rites.
- May take pastoral care of parish under the direction of a priest.
- Serve in certain ecclesiastical offices if qualified.
Q. Why do we have deacons?
A. The ministry of the deacon was underlined by Pope Paul VI when he wrote:
Furthermore, when the writers of the first centuries insist on the importance of the ministry of deacons, they give many examples of the manifold important tasks entrusted to them, and clearly show how much authority they held in the Christian communities and how great was their contribution to the apostolate. The deacon is described as the “bishop’s ear, mouth, heart and soul.” The deacon is at the disposal of the bishop in order that he may serve the whole people of God and take care of the sick and the poor; he is correctly and rightly called “one who shows love for orphans, for the devout and for the widowed, one who is fervent in spirit, one who shows love for what is good.” Furthermore, he is entrusted with the mission of taking the holy Eucharist to the sick confined to their homes of conferring baptism, and of attending to preaching the Word of God in accordance with the express will of the bishop.
Accordingly, the diaconate flourished in a wonderful way in the Church and at the same time gave an outstanding witness of love for Christ and the brethren through the performance of works of charity, the celebration of sacred rites, and the fulfillment of pastoral duties.