The Role of a Deacon


#1

Does anyone think the Church may change the role of a Deacon over the next 5 or 10 years, re: expanding duties? Looking at the decline in new priestly (for lack of a better word) vocations, there has to be a trigger point, right? The stats sure don't look promising.


#2

5 or 10 years is a very short time-scale.
What sorts of changes are you thinking about.
A deacon cannot be the celebrant at a Mass, hear Confessions, or administer the Sacrament of the Sick (Same reason as Confessions: both include granting Absoloution). Similarly he cannot dispense the sacraments of Confirmation or Holy Orders, which are reserved to the Bishop (though Confirmation may be delegated)

These restrictions are Theological and not disciplinary. as such they are not subject to change.

In terms of other aspects of the Deacons role.... these vary hugely from parish to parish, and from diocese to diocese. Some countries don't have permanent deacons yet.

Take another look at your page of statistics.... The situation in the USA, and other "Western" countries may look poor.... but the Global situation looks very much more stable!!! This is an apparent problem in the western world.

If you look in more detail at numbers in seminaries, many of those western countries have suddenly found in recent years that their seminaries are once again filling up, to pre 1970 levels.... This is true here in the UK, and so far as I know it is true in the USA as well.

My parents generation: "Generation X" were falling away.... but my generation, and the young generation coming up behind me are showing a different pattern.

It is important to remember that social trends tend to be highly cyclical. We are at (or nearing) the crest of a wave, and will be seeing a huge swing in the reverse direction over the next 50 years.

People complain about a shortage of priests.... do you see huge queue's for Holy Communion or Confession? I don't!!!
I see a huge shortage of evangelists. and you don't need to be ordained to be an evangelist. you simply need to be baptized - in fact you simply need to believe!

If you're not an evangelist you're not a Christian.


#3

Honestly, no. The role of a deacon is fine as it is. The only thing they can't do in regards to Mass is consecrate the Eucharist, IIRC.


#4

As a future Permanent Deacon I don't think there will be any changes to the role of the Deacon. They might as well become Priests if you are to add more to the ministry. Permanent Deacons is usually a part-time ministry and are usually married with children. It is not wise to add to their workload. In fact there are more vocations to the priesthood than the permanent diaconate.

Seminary numbers have been going up in most countries especially Australia. Although this doesn't mean that all will become priests. I honestly think that if there is a serious shortage in priests, people would answer to an official appeal in a time of need.

As for women being ordained deacons or priests. John Paul II was pretty clear on that one the last time it came up.


#5

[quote="EmergencyOps, post:1, topic:331171"]
Does anyone think the Church may change the role of a Deacon over the next 5 or 10 years, re: expanding duties? Looking at the decline in new priestly (for lack of a better word) vocations, there has to be a trigger point, right? The stats sure don't look promising.

[/quote]

Not in the sacramental sense, a deacon is a deacon, not a priest or even a "priest light". We have specific roles and duties, most of which is to point to the priest. Every thing I do in ministry has to be to build the kingdom; this entails Eucharistic celebrations and reconciliation, either in confession or anointing of the sick. I as a deacon will never be authorized to confer these sacraments, only a priest can.

My role in youth ministry, which is where my wife and I spend most of our ministry hours, is preparing a teen for that encounter with the priest; walking with the teens to enter fully into the life of the Church and the sacraments. I make it a point to aim my attentions and emphasis to the priests and seminarians so that the teens understand what my role is and how it differs from the priests.

You may see some change on the administration of parish business aspect. Many priests are seeing the benefit of allowing deacons to manage the parish while the priests can go out and be priests. Many dioceses are placing deacons in admin roles and using them for management. I am a manager of a local office of one of the largest electric utilities in the country so I am well trained and capable of managing a parish. Most deacons still work secular jobs as I do and have the skills and education it takes to serve in this role. Sadly in many dioceses and in the case of mine, there are no resources set up to compensate deacons in these roles so like me they must continue to support their families outside of Church in the secular world. In this sense, yes, the role of the deacon in parish life is and will continue to evolve.

Remember this simple point, bringing communion to the sick in the hospital is important, but without the priest at the Mass where the host was consecrated, all you have is a simple piece of bread. The important role of the deacon is the ministry of presence.

For someone choosing to work towards becoming a permanent deacon, I would suggest first to be ready to serve in the background. It is humility and obedience which makes a good deacon.

PS. The numbers of young men entering seminary are growing very fast. The seminary college where our parish priests are educated has a capacity of 100, there will be 120 men enrolled this fall; one of which is my oldest son who will be starting his third year. Praise God!


#6

[quote="anruari, post:2, topic:331171"]
5 or 10 years is a very short time-scale.
What sorts of changes are you thinking about.
A deacon cannot be the celebrant at a Mass, hear Confessions, or administer the Sacrament of the Sick (Same reason as Confessions: both include granting Absoloution). Similarly he cannot dispense the sacraments of Confirmation or Holy Orders, which are reserved to the Bishop (though Confirmation may be delegated)

These restrictions are Theological and not disciplinary. as such they are not subject to change.

I would tend to Agee, however if there is credence to declining number of priests and increase for the need, I would think married individuals entering the priesthood might become more prevelant than it is now,

[/quote]


#7

No, if anything the Church will give special permission for married deacons to become priests, the same way married Episcopalian priests who have converted to Catholicism have been give permission to be celebrants in their parishes. But it will be a last resort.


#8

The deacon at my parish does pretty much everything a deacon is sacramentally empowered to do. He does house calls to administer the Eucharist, he teaches faith formation classes, he leads communion services, blesses holy water, etc.

Our priest is very old, so he can't do much.

God Bless. :highprayer:


#9

[quote="anruari, post:2, topic:331171"]
5 or 10 years is a very short time-scale.
What sorts of changes are you thinking about.
A deacon cannot be the celebrant at a Mass, hear Confessions, or administer the Sacrament of the Sick (Same reason as Confessions: both include granting Absoloution).

[/quote]

I was thinking Sacrament of the Sick, or similar.


#10

[quote="EmergencyOps, post:9, topic:331171"]
I was thinking Sacrament of the Sick, or similar.

[/quote]

It would be impossible to delegate the power of Anointing of the Sick to a deacon. Only a priest is sacramentally able to administer it.


#11

The Order of Deacon will remain as it always has. The very nature of the order is one of service, while the nature of the Priesthood is leadership. They are two different things.

And, for the record, the numbers are actually getting better (especially in orthodox dioceses). Once we stop watering down the Church's teachings and actually decide to be outwardly and inwardly Catholic, vocations seem to flourish.

As to people saying that married deacons will become priests, this is false. They are completely different vocations, with different callings and duties. I've heard an Episcopalian bishop gripe about how he can ordained married people, single people, men, women, heterosexual, and homosexual, and he barely has enough priests to run a diocese.

Celibacy is not a problem for vocations. It's a Sacred Tradition.


#12

[quote="L_Marshall, post:11, topic:331171"]
The Order of Deacon will remain as it always has. The very nature of the order is one of service, while the nature of the Priesthood is leadership. They are two different things.

And, for the record, the numbers are actually getting better (especially in orthodox dioceses). Once we stop watering down the Church's teachings and actually decide to be outwardly and inwardly Catholic, vocations seem to flourish.

As to people saying that married deacons will become priests, this is false. They are completely different vocations, with different callings and duties. I've heard an Episcopalian bishop gripe about how he can ordained married people, single people, men, women, heterosexual, and homosexual, and he barely has enough priests to run a diocese.

Celibacy is not a problem for vocations. It's a Sacred Tradition.

[/quote]

Very well stated. I would go a little farther however with the traditional or orthodox aspect, is the recent past's watered down faith something that young men are willing to die for? I would say it is not. However, allow the Church to migrate back towards its original appearance and sacredness and many times over will we see priestly vocations multiply. Young men who see something worth dying for will give their lives for His Church.

This is what is taking place; at least in a small way and thus an increase of vocations to the priesthood is taking place. As I stated earlier, the seminary college here where my son is in his third year of formation is going to be 20% over its capacity this fall! Praise God!!! It is in the process of being enlarged as we speak. The enrolment is at it's highest level since the 50's.

There is hope for an abundant near future "crop" of priests. It is not in the permanent diaconate.


#13

[quote="Lapey, post:12, topic:331171"]
Very well stated. I would go a little farther however with the traditional or orthodox aspect, is the recent past's watered down faith something that young men are willing to die for? I would say it is not. However, allow the Church to migrate back towards its original appearance and sacredness and many times over will we see priestly vocations multiply. Young men who see something worth dying for will give their lives for His Church.

This is what is taking place; at least in a small way and thus an increase of vocations to the priesthood is taking place. As I stated earlier, the seminary college here where my son is in his third year of formation is going to be 20% over its capacity this fall! Praise God!!! It is in the process of being enlarged as we speak. The enrolment is at it's highest level since the 50's.

There is hope for an abundant near future "crop" of priests. It is not in the permanent diaconate.

[/quote]

Kudos on your son, and good to hear about the enrollment numbers.

DGB


#14

I don't think the role will change, but any Diocese that doesn't have a Deaconate program will probably change their policy due to need for their ministry and priest shortage.


#15

Can anyone tell me exactly what is entailed in a "communion service"? I wish to know what the role of the deacon in that is. Thanks and shalom.


#16

[quote="shawnbm, post:15, topic:331171"]
Can anyone tell me exactly what is entailed in a "communion service"? I wish to know what the role of the deacon in that is. Thanks and shalom.

[/quote]

Short version is prayers and distribution of the previously consecrated Eucharist.


#17

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