Hardest part about being a permanent deacon

This is along the lines of what I saw concerning priests. This can be as to either a transitional or permanent deacon, to be fair. What are the issues? I think I can state one from what I have seen on the boards, and that is a lack of understanding of the diaconate by too many in the laity. I also hear issues with folks wrongly looking at the deacon as a “priest-lite” or something to that effect. I am wondering more about the balancing of the different vocations to family (if deacon is married) and the diocese. Is there too much or too little emphasis on the ministry to the needy, to teaching or to preaching at mass? Thanks and blessings to all of our deacons! :thumbsup:

I cannot answer what is the hardest part of being a deacon. Truly the ministry is filled with so many good people trying to help that I am, at times, greatly humbled by their service. I have only been ordained since 2005 and can only answer for these years.

Once ordained, people did treat me differently. All of a sudden I was “Fr.” or “Deacon” to people who had always called me Mike. And no amount of pleading could get them to go back to just calling me Mike.

My wife, however, is often pushed aside by well-meaning people eager to ask a question or have a willing ear. She was prepared for this and we work it out together. But that is more to her efforts and understanding than to mine. Some parishioners are beginning to get the idea, and invite us both to meetings or gatherings.

Time spent on ministry is something we discussed in formation. That is why wives are strongly encouraged to attend the same classes. We called it “our night out together.”
This (the time) is still a challenge. We could both fill every evening with either meetings or ministry, but we purposely set time aside to be together. She has ministries that are separate from mine … I have ones separate from hers … and we have some shared ministries. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As more deacons are ordained, I believe more people will become familiar with our call to Word, Charity and Family (tho’ that is not the order of priority)

Hope this helps.

Thank you, Deacon Mike, I very much appreciate what you wrote. By chance, to parishioners confuse you as Father Mike rather than Deacon Mike because of the Roman collar when teaching or attending to church business, or because they see you assist at mass or perform a baptism, or both? As to the ministries of Charity, Liturgy and Word, how do you see your time divided up? Fairly equal? I realize, of course, a substantial amount of time must be devoted to family, particularly if you have kids. Blessings to you! :tiphat:

I am interested in the diaconate myself. Im only 33 so I have a long way to go. I am married so these discussions help me greatly to prepare. Currently my diocise has suspended formation because of a few bad experiences and aparent lack of theology in recently formed deacons. Thats unfortunate but I hope I can spark interest again in the Diaconate in my church…we will see. I know im being called unfortunatly the door is closed at the present…anyone have a key?

I would have to say the hardest part of being a deacon is watching my children deal with their dad being a deacon.

I have four kids, 2 girls 2 boys, ages 23, 21, 19 and 18. Their peers seem to have “different” expectations of them based on the fact that they are the “deacon’s kids”. I have tried as much as possible to encourage each of them to make their own faith journey and so far so good. I know it is difficult for them though due to “expectations”. Sometimes they prefer that that new acquantances not know that I am their dad, at least for a while, so they can get to know each other without that pressure.

I was sure my 21 year old’s boyfriend knew I was deacon when she told me their first date was during lent two years ago on a Friday, and he took her to stations and a fish fry. He didn’t know - I liked that kid, too bad they broke up.

Deacon Jeff

So im certainly on the path to the diaconate with that said i have a huge almost rediculous feer of public speaking. I have no problem in small intimate situations but the idea of giving a homily or reading infront of an entire congregation about stops my heart just thinking about it. I feel I would be more usefull out in the community dealing with social issues rather than taking part in the show per say. What do you think about that? is that even possible?

Your comments on your children are of the utmost importance to me, as I meet the diocesan head of our diaconate program this Saturday for three hours and I have a 13 daughter and 10 year old son. So far, they are supportive, but I worry about late high school and early college years when (theoretically–if accepted and I can finish) I might actually start working as a deacon somewhere. What will they think? Will they hide the fact? I like to think all will be fine and I am hopeful by nature; indeed, our hope is in the LORD. My wife is very supportive and looks forward to me beginning in the aspirancy program, but there are things that must be taken care of. By the way, the story of the 21 year old taking your daughter to the stations and fish fry brought a smile to my face. FYI–the wife and I broke up for a few months years ago before marrying, so you never know Deacon Jeff … :wink: Blessings to you.

That’s a tough one. I am one of the deacons our diocese uses to help instruct our candidates on proclamation and preaching ( I am a lawyer so it comes pretty naturally to me). Proclaiming the Gospel is one of the very defining functions of a deacon. If a deacon is assisting at Mass, he is “required” to proclaim. Preaching somewhat less so, but still a very important aspect. I have been told by our “arch-deacon” (the deacon who heads the deacon formation program, we call him that jokingly), that a candidate that cannot proclaim or preach is not a good candidate for ordination.

That being said, we had a candidate in our last class (ordained June 2013) who shared your reservations about reading at Mass and preaching. I was asked to privately tutor him for 8 weeks, two evenings a week. It was admittedly a challenge. Much like you, he felt called to “diakonia” i.e. service, but was very uncomfortable with the public role of a deacon. After eight weeks, he had improved but still struggled. I suggested the “arch-deacon” let him work with one of the deacons in my class (2011) who also struggled a bit, was more introverted than I, but whom I felt was a wonderful preacher and teacher. Long story short: our friend was ordained in 2013 with his class. He reads every Sunday at Mass (actually “proclaims”, which is a very different thing) and preaches “occasionally”. He is quite adequate ( and believe me, for him that is a big improvement).

Moral of the story: don’t let your present perceived shortcomings allow you to ignore the Lord’s call. God prepares those he calls, he doesn’t necessarily call those who are prepared. Dealing with these kinds of issue is why we have a five (5) year formation program.

(and let me say as an aside, I had my own issues to work out too, even though mine weren’t in the “proclaiming/preaching” area).

You know its funny because im told that im an amazing powerful speaker by many who i have talked with. Ive also been told that i have a very powerful presence and I draw people to me when I talk and speak. I know I have the gift locked up inside me but have run from any instance of public speaking that I have been confronted with. If im off the cuff im fine…add structure and I get very nervous. Im sure I could get myself to do it but I know that I certainly am not the most effective speaker not because of my presence or how i speak but just because my knack is not really doing that aspect. I would have no problems going out into the community to preach and pray. What im focused on are Disabled Veterans im one of them…I noticed that we in our community have something like 30+ thousand veterans many of whom with disabilities and a ton of various veterans service orginizations that have absolutley ZERO catholic influence and representation. Our protestant brothers have really got the market cornered in this area. I want to change this in my community and really bring the gift of the church to these communities. I have brought this to our Bishop but am waiting for a response.

What ive noticed is that our Deacons dont really do the mass all that often. Ive only seen it one time in one of our smaller parishes but we have i think 6-7 Deacons in our area. they all seem to be almost like a srink for their respective communities and do alot of charity work. I would be very comefortable with that. I dont agree with your Arch Deacon in saying those without the gift are not good candidates…If your recieving a calling and your priest thinks so as well your tallents and diciplines should be leveraged and used to extend the church into the community. Will there be a deacon like your case that is a great speaker and has no problems on the stage sure and thats great use them for that! Use the others to spread the word in a more intimate way…Not sure if that makes sense?

It makes perfect sense, but as a deacon, a servant, I think we have to be docile to the teachings of the Church, and the church teaches that a “deacon” has two roles: 1. charitiable (or justice) and 2. liturgical. In fact, some Vatican documents suggest that the deacon’s “liturgical” role is “primary”. Choosing one or the other isn’t, nor should it be, an option. We are called to be “both”. That doesn’t mean we all have to be “gifted” in both areas, as you put it. But we need to be able to function in both areas. Obviously some are going to be better preachers than others and some are going to be better relating to various constituents of our communities in charity or justice ministries than are others. That is as it should be. But we are called to do BOTH. It isn’t really just the “opinion” of my “arch deacon”, it is what the Vatican documents say.

I must say that I am often most moved by the homilies of my brother deacons who are less gifted as “preachers” because by their very witness, their very presence on the ambo, in spite of their own internal struggles, they bring an aspect of “church” to the congregation, that otherwise would never be seen.

Your experiences in life, your serice to country and fellow man, your disabiity, your potential service to that community, would be that type of witness. Allow yourself to be “formed”. Be docile to the process and let God worry about the details. That would be the best advice I could give to you. Best of luck and God bless.

The collar does throw them, but I don’t wear it most of the time. I can usually tell who goes to Church and who doesn’t by how many call me Father. The children in the school all seem to know (so I have hope for our next generation). I divide my time by what is asked of me: I tend to teach more (Baptism Prep, Marriage Prep, RCIA and classroom visits) than others. I preach once a month at all 6 of our parish Liturgies. But I have just taken on the post of Director of Diaconate Ministry and Life in our Archdiocese — so some things will change. I am very blessed by how welcomed I was when I changed parishes just prior to ordination my “old” parish had 2 deacons and I was told I would not be assigned there)… I do have four children — m all grown now. But I entered formation when the youngest was in Kindergarten. I continued coaching and tutoring while my children were in elementary school. So time management is important but not impossible

Congratulations on your new post. It sounds like it might be a good fit for you. The better educated and trained our deacons, the better for the Church as a whole. Blessings

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.