101 Questions and Answers on Deacons

101 Questions and Answers on Deacons

by William T. Ditewig


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The Second Vatican council restored the ministry of deacon as a permanent order within the sacrament of holy orders. Since then, the diaconate has become one of the fastest growing of all church vocations. While many Catholics are aware of deacons, most have very little idea why the diaconate was renewed by the Council. Taken together, these questions explore the deacon's function in the contemporary church, his formation, his life, and his role both as minister of the Word and the liturgy, and as apostolic leader in service.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809142651
Publisher: Paulist Press
Publication date: 11/28/2004
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 1,218,446
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.41(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Deacons in the Contemporary Church1
1Deacons and the Diaconate9
1.Just who and what is a deacon anyway?11
2.So are you saying that the deacon is a kind of priest?11
3.Is being a deacon the same in all churches and denominations?12
4.When I was younger, we only talked about priests (and bishops) as clergy. Are deacons mentioned in the Bible?13
5.If deacons are mentioned in scripture and in the writings of the early Church, why did they disappear for so long?14
6.Who are some famous deacons through history?16
7.In the early Church, why were deacons often elected to become bishops?18
8.What were "archdeacons" and why did bishops have them?18
9.After all these centuries, what led the Council to restore the diaconate as a permanent order of ministry?19
10.Exactly how did the Second Vatican Council "renew" the diaconate?20
11.What exactly does Vatican II say about deacons?21
12.Paragraph #29 of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church says that "strengthened by sacramental grace, [deacons] are at the service of the people of God in the ministry of the liturgy, the word, and charity, in communion with the bishops and his priests." What does this mean?22
13.I thought that the Second Vatican Council promoted lay ministry. If that's the case, why is the Church promoting clerical forms of ministry at the expense of lay persons who could do the job just as well?23
14.If the Council wanted to stress the permanent nature of the diaconate, why are seminarians still ordained deacons before they are ordained to the priesthood?25
15.So deacons and priests are ordained by bishops. Who ordains bishops?28
16.You just said that bishops are "ordained." However, the word consecrated was also used in one of the quotes from Vatican II. Are ordination and consecration the same thing?30
17.Can deacons help with the shortage of priests?32
18.The deacon in my parish works selling life insurance. If deacons are clergy, why do they still hold regular jobs?33
19.Are you saying that, when all is said and done, most deacons are just part-time ministers?33
2The Formation of Deacons35
20.What sort of training and formation do deacons receive?37
21.How does someone know if he has a vocation to be a deacon?38
22.Are there special courses to take to become a deacon?39
23.Do deacons all have college degrees in theology?39
24.With this diversity in educational background, how does the bishop make sure that a person is well prepared for professional ministry as a deacon?40
25.I always thought that members of the Catholic clergy had to be celibate. Why can a married man be a deacon?41
26.You mentioned that the bishop decides whom to ordain; however, does a person just volunteer to be a deacon?42
3Living Life as a Deacon43
27.How does a deacon balance family, job, and ordained ministry?45
28.Given all of this responsibility, wouldn't it just be better to wait until retirement to become a deacon?45
29.I understand that priests receive a salary for their ministry. Do deacons get paid, or are they volunteers?47
30.What happens if a deacon decides to leave active ministry?48
31.Deacons often minister in the world, and so do lay persons; are they doing the same things?49
32.The deacon is a member of the clergy, but he usually lives and works among the laity. How should a deacon relate to the laity?50
33.I once heard a diocesan official say that our diocese wants to focus on developing priestly vocations and lay ministry, so we don't need deacons. Is this comment accurate?50
34.Can women be ordained as deacons?51
35.I have heard that there were deaconesses in the ancient Church. Who were these women, and were women ever ordained as deacons?52
36.Do deacons get transferred from parish to parish like priests?53
37.A deacon in a neighboring parish was just elected a judge. I thought Catholic clergy weren't supposed to be involved in politics, so why was he able to do this?54
38.Why do some deacons dress like lay persons, and others wear the white clerical collar that I normally see priests wearing?55
39.What other clerical obligations does Canon 288 address for permanent deacons?57
40.People refer to bishops as "Bishop" or "Your Excellency." We call our own priest "Father." What do we call deacons?59
4The Relationships of the Deacon61
41.I thought deacons worked for priests; what is a deacon's relationship to the bishop?63
42.What does the bishop expect from his deacons?64
43.I know the bishop is a priest, but is he a deacon, too?65
44.In our diocese, a couple of our deacons are in charge of diocesan offices. Don't these offices have to be held by priests?66
45.What are "faculties," and why does a bishop give them to deacons?66
46.Since the bishop has priests, why does he need deacons?67
47.Why do some bishops have deacons and others do not?67
48.The bishop has a special sacramental relationship with his priests and a similar sacramental relationship with his deacons. So, what is the deacon's relationship with priests?68
49.If the deacon and the pastor can't get along, can the pastor "fire" the deacon?68
50.If bishops are deacons, are priests deacons, too?69
51.How do deacons and priests collaborate?69
52.Are deacons "lower" on the hierarchical ladder than priests?70
53.Are priests "full-time" ministers and deacons "part-time" ministers?70
54.Can a deacon be the pastor of a parish?71
55.What is the relationship between deacons and priests assigned to a parish, other than the pastor?72
56.How many permanent deacons are married?72
57.Are there celibate deacons?72
58.If the wife of a deacon dies, may the deacon get married again?73
59.What is expected of a deacon's wife?73
60.Will a married deacon have time for much ministry?74
61.If a married man is ordained a deacon, do he and his wife have to refrain from sexual activity after his ordination?75
62.If the wife of a deacon dies, should the deacon become a priest?76
63.What happens if a deacon and his wife get divorced? If that marriage is later annulled, may the deacon marry again?76
64.Is the family involved in a candidate's formation for ordination as a deacon?77
5The Deacon as Minister of the Word79
65.What exactly is the ministry of the Word, and what is the deacon's role in it?81
66.Why does the deacon proclaim the Gospel at Mass, and not the priest?81
67.What is the role of the deacon in preaching?82
68.Why do some deacons never preach at Mass?82
69.I am used to priests and bishops being teachers in the Church; however, are we now to consider deacons also as "official" teachers in the Church?83
70.If a priest is going to give the homily at Mass, shouldn't he also proclaim the Gospel at that Mass instead of the deacon?83
71.What is the deacon's role in evangelization?85
6Deacons as Ministers of the Liturgy87
72.Since deacons are supposed to focus on service, why are they involved in liturgical ministries anyway?89
73.What sacraments do deacons celebrate?90
74.Are there differences between when a priest baptizes and when a deacon baptizes?91
75.Since deacons may baptize, may they also officiate at the sacrament of confirmation?91
76.If there is no priest present, may a deacon preside at the Eucharist?91
77.Do deacons "hear confessions"?91
78.Why don't deacons celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick?92
79.Since deacons don't preside at Mass, does that mean deacons can only witness marriages outside of Mass?93
80.Can deacons ordain other deacons?93
81.A friend of mine said that the deacon in her parish often presides at funerals, and last night I saw a deacon conducting a wake service. Are deacons supposed to do these things?94
82.Do deacons lead other kinds of prayer services?94
83.I've heard that deacons have a responsibility to "pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours." What is this Liturgy of the Hours, and how does it involve deacons?94
84.Can deacons bless people and things?95
85.I have heard that the deacon has special liturgical functions during Holy Week. What is Holy Week, and how does the deacon function during this special time?95
86.What liturgical vestments do deacons wear, and what is their significance?97
7Deacons as apostolic leaders in service99
87.What does it mean to describe deacons as "apostolic leaders in service"?101
88.What did Pope Paul VI mean when he referred to deacons as a "driving force of the Church's service"?102
89.If deacons are "servants," how can they be leaders?102
90.Are deacons supposed to do more about charity and justice than simply serve in a variety of charitable works?103
91.Aren't all Christians supposed to serve the needs of others?103
92.How do deacons exercise this ministry?103
93.Where do deacons exercise this ministry?103
94.Are deacons parish ministers or diocesan ministers?104
95.If a deacon grew up in one parish, why would the bishop send him to another parish?105
96.Can a parish have more than one deacon?105
97.Can a deacon serve in more than one parish?106
98.Our deacon serves as a chaplain at the county jail. Do all deacons serve in assignments outside a parish, and can they be called "chaplains"?106
99.What diocesan offices are open to deacons?107
100.Do deacons serve in national and international roles of service?107
Final Reflection109
101.A parishioner recently said she hoped that all the problems of the Church would soon be solved, and there would no longer be any need for the permanent diaconate since there would be enough priests and lay persons to handle everything. When will we know we have enough deacons?111

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