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Deacons and the “Shifting Face of the Catholic Church”

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/26/15

A glimpse at an upcoming diaconate ordination in Scranton, from The Wilkes Barre Times Leader: 

After Saturday, Frank Hine will be in an unusual position for a Roman Catholic — when his daughter weds, he can both give the bride away and pronounce the couple man and wife. “It would be a little different than what people are normally accustomed to,” the Wilkes-Barre resident chuckled. Hine is one of 17 men who will be ordained as permanent deacons by Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera Saturday, adding to a growing and much-needed cadre of support for a church coping with a priest shortage that keeps getting worse. “That’s where the church is going,” Hine said. “Things are changing.” …Unlike a priest, deacons can be married, and Hine, 63, has been for 33 years, creating the opportunity to not only watch his daughter marry in the future, but conduct the service. “We receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders,” Hine said of his looming ordination, “but not the fullness of the sacrament.” The Roman Catholic Church has one Sacrament of Holy Orders, but three degrees, or levels: Bishops receive the fullness of the sacrament and thus can ordain priests and preside over confirmations; priests conduct most rites and sacraments for other people, including celebrating mass and forgiving sins and deacons assist priests and fill in where they are allowed, as needed. While retaining the “transitional deacon” ordination typically bestowed on seminarians the year before becoming priests, the council reinstated what is called the “Permanent Diaconate,” meaning deacons who have gone as far as they intend to in the Sacrament of Holy Orders — which, it turns out, suited Hine to a tee. “I was in the seminary during college” he noted, where he considered life as a missionary. But the process is called “discernment” for a reason, as those who feel called to the priesthood spend years in formation to help decide if it is what they really want. In his case, it wasn’t. “We’ve been lucky; we’ve been blessed,” he said of his family. “You get to an age when you realize you should give something back to everybody.” Being able to participate more fully in the religious life while still being married accomplishes that. “I get the best of both worlds.”

Read more. 

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