Deacons have been present in the Church since the earliest years of Christianity, appointed by the Apostles to assist with caring for the poor, and the practical organisation of Church.
The early Church was led by Bishops assisted by Deacons, who dealt with administration and feeding of the poor, as well as having preaching and liturgical roles.
As the Church grew, the role of elder or presbyter or priest devevloped, who ran the local Church on behalf of the Bishop. The role of the Deacon became largely overtaken by the role of the priest, although Deacons as permanent ministers have been present throughout the life of the Church.
Although often seen as a step in preparation for priesthood, the Church in recent times has recognised the importance of the role of the Permanent Deacon, as the sign of Jesus Christ the Servant in the Church - a 'Diaconal Church', and in the wider community.
A Permanent Deacon can be a single man, or a married man.
A Deacon is a man called by the Bishop of the Diocese to Ordination.
He is ordained to serve the Church in a threefold ministry
The Ministry of Charity –
He is particularly called to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised.
He will coordinate the local Church’s response to their needs.
He will have a special care for matters of social justice.
He will foster and support parish groups and organisations.
The Ministry of the Word –
He will proclaim the Gospel and sometimes preach at Mass and other Religious Services.
He will preside over Services other than the Mass.
He will lead the people in Prayer
He will officiate at Funeral and Burial Services.
The Ministry of the Altar –
He will offer Service at the altar at Mass assisting the Bishop or Priest.
He will distribute Holy Communion at Mass, in hospital and in the homes of the sick, the housebound and the dying.
He will Baptise and prepare people for the Sacrament of Baptism.
He will officiate at Marriages and prepare couples for that Sacrament of Marriage.
The Deacon will continue to be a sign of Christ the Servant throughout their lives.
Above all, they will be men of faith and prayer, with a desire to serve others for the sake of God’s kingdom.