Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2000
APC to reflect on diaconate
By GLEN ARGAN
Members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council have been asked to reflect on the possibility of having the permanent diaconate in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
At the APC's Feb. 12 meeting, Archbishop Thomas Collins gave council members copies of two recent Vatican documents on the diaconate and asked them to reflect on establishing the ordained ministry in the archdiocese.
Collins told the council he eventually wants the council to set up a committee to examine the topic, but is currently only asking its members to reflect on the Vatican documents.
In October, the archbishop told the council he personally favours having permanent deacons, but that he wants to move slowly on the topic.
Since then, he's been reading on the topic and consulting with others who have experience in dealing with the diaconate.
"Personally, I think we need to (establish the diaconate), but I think we need to do it right."
The deacon, he said, has a direct connection to the bishop of the diocese, not to a parish. Unlike the priesthood and episcopate, in the ordination of a deacon only the bishop lays hands on the newly ordained.
Where the permanent diaconate has been successful, the focus has been on the deacon's ministry of service with his liturgical role treated as secondary, Collins said. And in the deacon's personal life, his family must come first, his job second and the diaconate third.
Some of those points were emphasized in the two 1998 Vatican documents on the diaconate - Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons and Fundamental Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons - which Collins handed out to APC members.
Those documents emphasize that a deacon's life and ministry must flow from a spirituality which is intensely prayerful and which shows that his ministry in the world is rooted in his service at the altar and his preaching of the Gospel.
The permanent diaconate disappeared for more than a millennium and was reinstituted by the Second Vatican Council. Today, there are more than 25,000 deacons in the world, more than half of them in the United States.