On Saturday, August 11 at the cathedral of Saint Peter in chains, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr celebrated Mass surrounded by the permanent deacons of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Along with our wives there were over 80 in attendance marking the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. At this special liturgy Archbishop Schnurr led the assembled deacons in a rededication of their ministry. All deacons were asked to vest in alb. The archdiocese gifted all present with a commemorative stole marking this special event. The entire event was an affirmation of the church’s commitment for diaconal ministry. The diaconate is part of the church’s hierarchy tracing its humble beginning in sacred scripture with the call of the first 7 deacons;
Acts 6:1-4. At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”
The ordination of these 7 men was brought about through the laying of hands by the 12 apostles.
So who and what is a deacon? He is a fully initiated Catholic man who through the laying on of hands by the local (arch)bishop is ordained to serve the church in three particular ways.
First, he is servant of the Word of God. He is proper minister of the Word, and proclaims the Gospel during Sunday Mass. As proper minister of the Word of God the deacon always leads the general intercession. The deacon is given faculties to preach at weddings, funerals and baptisms and at the request of the local pastor may preach Sunday Mass. As servant of the Word of God he is to exhort the faithful, (teach) how God’s Word is present in and through the lives we lead.
Second, he is the servant of the sacrifice, (worship). It is the proper role of the deacon to be of service whenever the bishop presides at mass. The deacon is the proper minister of the chalice and distributes Holy Communion (the Precious Blood of Christ) when he serves at Mass. It is his responsibility to teach and maintain
reverence of the sacrifice.
Third, the deacon is the servant of the people of God, especially the poor and forgotten. The deacon is the voice of God’s people to the church community promoting a renewed awareness of justice where there is injustice.
Conferred on the deacon is Christ the Servant, who came to serve not to be served.
The order of “permanent deacon” (not transitional deacons) was dropped around 500 A.D. The order of was restored by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The gathering of Vatican II, like all councils, is the work of the Holy Spirit that promoted the restoration of this sacred order in the church. Pope Paul VI expressed, “permanent deacons present the face of the church, which likes to be close to the people and their daily realities, to root in their lives the proclamation of Christ’s message.”
For 14 years and 4 months I have served you as your deacon. For that I am grateful. But I am most grateful to God for the support and encouragement I have received over the years by the good people I serve. May God continue to bless our Saint Andrew Family, deacon and all.
“Saint Andrew, pray for us.”
Men that are interested in the diaconate and want more information may call my
office, 513-831-3353 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.