Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 25, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Blessings of the diaconateAs the only permanent deacon ordained in Alberta until now, I feel bound to comment on discussion concerning permanent deacons.
I would like to correct some false impressions: a lay minister can cover many duties but he does not have the same powers as a permanent deacon.
To name a few, the permanent deacon has the right to solemnize marriages and baptisms; he also has the authority when assisting at the Eucharist to preach the homily for the celebrant and at the end of the Canon he has the privilege of elevating the chalice.
In various dioceses, when required, the bishop may ask him to undertake other ministerial and pastoral duties.
There appears to be some concern that a male permanent deacon will cause women to be side-lined. In fact the opposite is true. The majority of permanent deacons are married and since the restoration of the permanent diaconate since Vatican II it has become apparent that the deacon functions with his wife as a diaconal team.
During my 15 years of ministry my wife, Joan, has been my greatest support. Joan has, when necessary, stepped in with readings at the liturgy; prepared the altar in isolated missions; led the singing; has assisted me and helped counsel the bereaved family at funerals; at all times acted as my secretary while I have been at work.
I could continue the list indefinitely with ministries that only a woman can do adequately.
Since being ordained I have covered many activities which I never thought about before becoming a deacon. I have preached and served in well over 20 parishes and missions, as well as being resident pastor of a First Nations mission for seven years.
Like many priests I have lost count of the number of baptisms, marriages and funerals at which I have officiated; I have found myself counselling prospective suicidees, mothers contemplating abortion and other mothers mourning the loss of babies before and after birth.
I have visited prisoners and celebrated the liturgy in prison camps, faced rioters and those abusing the Catholic Church. These are only a few of the many duties that have fallen upon me and other deacons throughout the world.
A permanent deacon is one of the "diaconale," as distinct from the "presbyterium." He is not and never can replace the priest.
Deacons have been a regular part of the Church for 1,500 years before the Council of Trent. Many of them have been a great influence, for example, St. Francis of Assisi.
I have been honoured to have been ordained as a permanent deacon by Bishop Raymond Roy, the former bishop of the Diocese of Saint Paul. I pray that our archbishops and bishops here in Western Canada will soon agree to establish the permanent diaconate as a regular part of our Church life.
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