In his weekly newspaper column in the Brooklyn Tablet, my bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, reflects on the diaconate in Brooklyn just days ahead of the ordination that will bring 12 more men into Holy Orders to serve the Church as deacons:
The Permanent Diaconate was reinstated by the Second Vatican Council, not just as a response to a reduced number of priests, but also in order to emphasize that the Permanent Deacon living in the world and serving in the Church forms a permanent bridge between the lay vocation and the vocation of one who is blessed with Holy Orders. These virtual bridges make the mission of the Church in the world today more visible through their work lives and vocation, which is enhanced by their vocation to the Diaconate. Also, most deacons are married and share the vocation to marriage. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity and commitment of both deacons and their wives to the mission of the Church.
The main responsibilities of the deacon are the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of Sacraments and works of charity. The deacon is entrusted with proclaiming the Word in various ways. He has the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel during the Eucharistic Liturgy. His sacramental responsibilities consist of the ability to baptize, to be the custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, and to officiate at marriages, as well as to prepare individuals for these sacraments.
Most of all, the origins of the Order of Deacon in the early Church are found in the very name “deacon,” which in Greek means “servant.” The Acts of the Apostles tells us that when the Apostles were busy with the proclamation of the Word, they were not able to wait on tables and serve the needs of the poor and the widows. So they chose seven men of good repute, who became the first deacons of the Church, and who attended to those needs.
Traditionally, deacons have always been charged with the service of the poor and the marginalized with what we know as the corporal works of mercy, visitation of prisoners and those who are sick. Deacons truly make Jesus present to His people. The deacons of today bring many gifts, not the least of which is their language abilities in the various cultures and languages represented in our Diocese. Truly, they are a blessing for the Church of Brooklyn and Queens.
He goes on to describe some of the many jobs deacons are filling the diocese today. Read on. And pray, please, for the men about to be ordained!
Photo: Deacon Greg Kandra