Questions on Becoming a Permanent Deacon


I am a relatively recent convert- in my 5th year. I love the Latin Mass, go to Eucharistic Adoration, and have a strong feeling about the meaning and significance of the liturgy. As a married man I am obviously not able to become a priest, but I’ve been considering the diaconate and would like to know from permanent deacons on here how they feel about it- the daily experience, your relationship to your priest and bishop, and the role of the deacon’s wife. From a practical standpoint, I’m wondering how a man becomes a deacon if he is not financially in a position to retire from the business world. I believe there is no salary for a deacon.


Great questions, Im also interested in this and look forward to reading the replies.


There’s no salary for a deacon.

The role of the deacon is to act in the person of Christ the Servant. So primarily it’s focus is charity, not to be a glorified altar boy. And this role is in order to serve the diocese not just a parish.

Even when a deacon preaches it’s supposed to be an extraordinary event, not routine.

The deacons are the ordinary minister of the Word, and read the gospel even if the Pope himself were present.

The presider is ordinarily the preacher.

Deacons are also ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, and on the altar their responsibility is the chalice.

The program takes about 4 years. I’m in my second year.

I am not in a position to retire yet - I still have all my kids at home!


Thanks! So if there is no salary, and you are not retired, then is this something you do part time only? Or else how do you manage it?


It would be part time.:thumbsup:


So what is the experience like? I’m personally very interested if you want to take the opportunity go into detail, but of course that’s up to you. Or if you have already discussed it on here, can you provide a link?


Regarding your comment on preaching, I would not categorize diaconal preaching as necessarily an “extraordinary” event. Every deacon I know, and I know quite a few, have a regular preaching schedule at their parish - typically, preaching at all the Masses one weekend a month. This gives the pastor a preaching break. I also know some deacons who are “extraordinary preachers” in their own right, but that’s a different question!


Here’s a couple of docs:

The big journey is within yourself.

What totally changed the process for me was when I realized that the whole diaconate was about being ordained in the person of Christ the Servant.

My wife is journeying with me.

We spend one weekend a month in formation - classes, group stuff, liturgy, mass etc.

We have a mentor who is a deacon whom we meet once a month also.

The toughest thing was getting babysitters for the kids, but now the program know them they are allowed to stay in the library next to our class.

Actually the toughest thing was passing all the psych testing - 80% of applicants failed.


That is, deacons are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Priests and bishops are Eucharistic Ministers (there are no extraordinary EMs).


I know - but apparently their preaching supposed to be “occasional” or “extraordinary.”

Here’s one example of current thinking on the diaconateby Bishop Sample

I actually find his thoughts liberating.


**Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university. **

A deacon is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist and as such, in the absence of the priest, may perform practically all of the rites foreseen in the ritual for worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass.

the ordinary ministers of the Eucharist are the Bishops, priests and deacons.

The words Eucharist and Holy Communion are interchangeable.


Technically there is. A laicized priest can still confect the Eucharist, but can only do so in extraordinary conditions.


Theologically, they are not. The Eucharist is the specic Sacrament, the Communication of that Sacrament ( the bringing the Eucharist to the community is not)

As such, the Minister of each Sacrament is clearly defined by the Church. It is the one who confects the Sacrament The minister of Baptism, for example, is the person who pours the water while reciting the Trinitarian Form.

The Minister of Marriage is the couple themselves,

The Minister of Reconciliation is a validly ordained priest or bishop with faculties

The Minister of Holy Orders is a validly ordained bishop.

The Minister of the Eucharist, would be the one, the priest, who confects the Sacrament.

If your claim was true, that the words are interchangeable, then it would be a claim a layperson can be the Minister of the Sacrament, and thus confect the Eucharist.

Pope John Paul II addressed this confusion in Redemptionis Sacramentum

[154.] As has already been recalled, “the only minister who can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi is a validly ordained Priest”.[254] Hence the name “Minister of the Eucharist” belongs properly to the Priest alone


You needed to read further in your link

Follow-up: Deacon’s Duties and Gestures [05-30-2006]

After our column on the duties of deacons (May 16) a reader gently upbraided me saying: “I don’t mean to be picky, but I believe it is important to point out that the deacon is not an ordinary minister of ‘the Eucharist.’ Instead, he is an ordinary minister of ‘Holy Communion.’”

He then quotes “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” No. 154:

“As has already been recalled, ‘the only minister who can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist “in persona Christi” is a validly ordained Priest.’ Hence the name ‘minister of the Eucharist’ belongs properly to the Priest alone. Moreover, also by reason of their sacred Ordination, the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon, to whom it belongs therefore to administer Holy Communion to the lay members of Christ’s faithful during the celebration of Mass. In this way their ministerial Office in the Church is fully and accurately brought to light, and the sign value of the Sacrament is made complete.”

Sometimes “being picky” is the best way of keeping us on our toes. Our reader is correct as to this terminological imprecision.


Or even further:

All the same, it does not appear that the expression “ordinary minister of Communion” sufficiently expresses the full range of diaconal ministry which goes well beyond distributing Communion to the faithful and includes several acts of Eucharistic worship reserved to the ordained.

Perhaps we need to coin a new expression such as “ordinary minister of communion and Eucharistic worship” to cover these distinct roles.


Prayers to you along your journey! As a younger man, I know I am not called to be a priest. With eventual growth in my faith life (I’m not there… yet.) I could potentially see myself becoming a deacon in the future. Deacons serve with great purpose!


Exactly, you will note that Fr McNamara recognized his error. His solution was to propose a new title for the role of Deacons that INCLUDED the title 'minister of communion;

Personally, I don’t see the need to create an additional title for Deacons that is more descriptive of their entire role at Mass, but Fr. McNamara is well entitled to suggest one.

So given all that has been presented to you, do you still maintain that layperson can be a Minister of the Eucharist, extraordinary or not.

  1. A deacon is not a layperson. Who is saying a layperson should be a Minister of the Eucharist?:confused:


You said that the two terms were interchangeable. So are a Minister of the Eucharist and a Minister of Holy Communion the same thing?


While I was not aware of the distinction made by the Pope, neither it seems are the many dioceses who post on their website that the Ordinary ministers of the Eucharist are the Bishops, priests and deacons

And what does that have to do with the term Layperson, and in any case, what does all this have to do with the OP’s original question?

BTW Canon Law seems to find the terms interchangeable along with Blessed Sacrament:

Can. 910 §1 The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon.
Can. 911 §1 The duty and right to bring the blessed Eucharist to the sick as Viaticum belongs to the parish priest, to assistant priests, to chaplains and, in respect of all who are in the house, to the community Superior in clerical religious institutes or societies of apostolic life.
Can. 929 In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred vestments prescribed by the rubrics.
Can. 943 The minister of exposition of the blessed Sacrament and of the eucharistic blessing is a priest or deacon.

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