The following is a list of frequently asked questions about deacons:
Is a deacon ordained?
Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders at ordination, deacons become members of the clergy rather than of the laity. The three levels of Holy Orders are to the Episcopate (Bishop), Presbyterate (Priest), or the Diaconate (Deacon).
What is the difference between a “transitional” deacon and a “permanent” deacon?
Men who are to be ordained priests are ordained deacons prior to priesthood. These men are sometimes referred to as “transitional” deacons, because they are in the process of transition into priesthood. Men who are ordained deacons and remain in that state are sometimes referred to as “permanent” deacons. Both transitional and permanent deacons share in the Order of Deacon.
Can deacons be married?
Married men can become deacons. Single men who are ordained deacons take a promise of celibacy, similar to the priest’s promise of celibacy, and may not marry once they are ordained. If married, the deacon candidate should be in a stable marriage for a number or years and have the expressed consent and support of his wife. His children should also be of such an age and adjustment as not to be unduly affected by their father’s pursuit of a life that involves special apostolic commitments.
What is the difference between a deacon and a priest?
This is a complex question and certainly deserves more than a short answer. But in short, the priest models his life after Christ the Priest; the deacon models his life after Christ the Servant. Each shares uniquely in the ministry of Christ to His people, the Church. Sacramentally, a deacon is an ordinary minister of Baptism, and can serve as the official witness to Marriage. A deacon may also read the Gospel and preach at Mass. Deacons are also ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Only a priest can celebrate Mass, offer absolution of sins in the Sacrament of Penance, and Anoint the Sick.
Is a Permanent Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?
Whenever a man is ordained, he is to serve the Bishop in the Diocesan Church. Permanent Deacons are assigned by the bishop to parishes or institutions according to the pastoral need of the diocese. Normally, the deacon will be assigned to a parish/institution within an approximate 35 mile radius of his place of residence. During the ensuing years his assignment may be changed in light of the particular needs of the diocese and the permanent deacon.
Are deacons paid?
Except in rare situations, deacons are not paid. However, a Deacon may be employed in a paid position in the Church. In that case, he is paid as an employee doing a particular job, but not because he is a deacon.
What are the requirements to become a deacon?
The deacon is called personally and ecclesially 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. Each diocesan diaconate office sets its own criteria for suitable deacon candidates. Here are some of the more common considerations:
- Age: At least thirty-five at time of ordination.
- Status: A Roman Catholic, 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 several years, who has the expressed consent and support of his wife, and whose children are of such an age and adjustment as not to be unduly affected by their father’s pursuit of a life that involves special apostolic commitments.
- Natural Gifts: Demonstrates 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.
- Church / Community Involvement: A man living the Christian life who has demonstrated active service, apostolic involvement, and leadership among the People of God.