the Permanent Diaconate



ORDINATION to the PERMANENT DIACONATE

 

With Joy and Gratitude to 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd

the Diocese of St. Paul cordially invites you to the

 

ORDINATION to the PERMANENT DIACONATE of


Mr. Mitch Goulet 

Mr. Greg Ouellette

Mr. Ryan Sales 

Mr. Joe Simangan


by His Excellency Bishop Paul Terrio, Bishop of St. Paul in Alberta

 

at 
the St. Paul Cathedral on Friday, June 29th, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. 

(Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul)


You are also invited to a banquet and fellowship 

following the ordination

at the St. Paul Senior Citizens Centre.








Deacons

 

An over view look at who and what is a deacon, and what are his duties.

 

Who and What is a Deacon?

 

       A Catholic Deacon is a member of the clergy. As you may or may not know the clergy consists of three groups of ordained ministers; the Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Although all baptized members of the Catholic faith are called to share their faith and minister to others, some are called to be ordained and to minister in specific ways to the rest of the Church. We call these, “clerics” or “clergy”.

 

       The title “Deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonos”, which means, “servant”. A Deacon is ordained by the Bishop into the order of Deacons or (Diaconate), much like a priest is ordained into the order of the Presbyters or (the Presbyterate), and the Bishop to the order of Bishops or (Episcopate). 

 

       Once ordained a Deacon, the Deacon enters into a new set of relationships: he is permanently and publicly configured to Christ the servant, he also shares in the overall pastoral responsibilities of the Bishop to care for all the people of the diocese, and he becomes an integral part of the clerical structure of the church and the mass, in partnership with priests, serving the needs of the diocese. 

 

       No, he is not a Priest. We Catholics are very familiar with the role of the Priest in our communities, but as for Deacons, this is rather new for many people. Since the Deacon is a member of the clergy, they have responsibilities very similar to the priest in some ways:  they participate in a very unique way in the mass,   they are official teachers and preachers of the Gospel, and they can preside at the celebrations of baptism, matrimony, funerals, and in the case of the priest being unable to say mass, the Deacon will celebrate the Celebration of the Word with Communion. He will also do other forms of community prayer. Deacons visit the sick, the homebound, those imprisoned and in need, and shares in the responsibilities of outreach in the community with the priest. And so, in these regards there is certainly a “resemblance” to the priesthood, but only a resemblance. 

 

       On the other hand, Ddeacons have a unique expression of ordained ministry. The Deacon is a particular “icon” or, he, is a sacramental sign of Christ, who came, “not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). In this regard, the Deacon has a profound responsibility, to pour out his own life, in service to others, just as Christ did. Therefore, while you will certainly see deacons participating in the mass and other liturgical ceremonies, and for good reasons, you may often not see the main thrust of the deacon’s ministry, which is to be that sacramental sign of Christ, outside the sanctuary, outside the church building. 

 

Are Deacons Mentioned in the Bible?

 

       Yes! The best description of what a Deacon should and should not be like is in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

 

            Deacons likewise must be serious, not doubled-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as Deacons. The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. From the very beginning the early Church Fathers (people like St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and the like) have frequently referred to deacons in their writings as those ministers who assist in the care of newcomers, the poor, the widows and orphans, and even in some matters of justice. While their functions were wide-ranging and varied, there was always a strong link between the Deacon and the Bishop, in whose name the deacon served. One of the earliest references to deacons in the writings of the Church Fathers, speaks of a Deacon who is “ordained” not to the priesthood, but to service to the Bishop. And in other places, the Deacon is referred to as the “eyes” of the Bishop, and even more, the Bishops, “mouth, heart and soul”; they are also described as being as close as, father and son, in the care for people.

 

       Deacons, since the beginning, were more then just assistants to the Bishop. St. Ignatius of Antioch, once described the roles of the Bishop, priest and deacons by saying the role of the Bishop is like that of the God the Father, the role of the priest, like that of the Apostles, and the role of the deacon, as the ministry of Jesus the Christ, who poured out his own life to reconcile and save others. Once ordained a Deacon, he becomes that Sacramental witness to Christ in the community, and also serves as a reminder to all the baptized of the responsibility to care for others. Indeed, deacons are to be that Sacramental sign of the very “diaconal” nature of the Church herself. Why?  Because the whole structure of the Church is in the ministry of service. We are all called to the service of the Church. 

 

       If Deacons are mentioned in the Bible and in the Fathers writings, why have we not heard much, or anything about them before now?

 

       Well, the truth is that Deacons have always been part of the ordained ministry, it’s just that for the most part men were ordained Deacons and then later ordained Priests, or in some cases Bishops, (and the later was being done in the early centuries of the Church). No longer are Bishops being ordained from Deacons. So now, the line of succession is, Deacon to Priest to Bishop. So, in the early Church the Bishop did all the functions of the Priest, plus his regular functions, but as the Church grew, and more communities were added to his care, it became impossible for him to preside personally over all of them, so the Bishop would appoint other ministers to be pastors in their names. Out of the people that he was able to ordain to this service were all his deacons that served him and knew him and his ministry better than anyone else. So, the deacons became priests. And this is called the transitional diaconate ministry, which still exists today. Now, throughout the life of the Church, there has been Deacons transitioning to the priesthood and those who continued as deacons throughout their lives. These ones we now call the Permanent Deacons. 

 

So, who are some of the famous Deacons of the Church?

 

       Well, one of the most famous and talked about is St. Francis of Assisi, who lived between (1181 – 1226). Francis was a Deacon who never became a priest. Francis was well known for his homilies, his outreach to the poor, especially to lepers, and his life of poverty. His radical approach to a life of poverty and down to the basics spirituality are still a powerful witness to true discipleship today, although it wasn’t in his time. We celebrate his feast day on October 4. 

 

       Then, there’s St. Lawrence who was martyred in (AD 258). He was a Deacon of Rome. He is less well known than Francis, but among Deacons he is a giant. After his Bishop was martyred (Pope St. Sixtus II), Lawrence was ordered by the Roman authorities to surrender the wealth of the Church.   A few days  latter he  returned with the poor of Rome, telling the Roman officials that the poor were the true treasures of the Church, and for that, the Romans took him and roasted him on a grill called a gridiron. Legend has it that after being roasted a while on one side, he asked his executioners to flip him over, that he was done on that side. He was considered a model Deacon by the Church, why? Because of his relationship to his Bishop for one. He was well known by the Christian community and the Roman authorities as the Bishop’s primary assistant, especially where the care of the poor and the administrations of the Churches goods were concerned. Two, the Roman officials thought he had all the Churches wealth at his disposal, which meant that they highly regarded his position as being the Bishops right hand man. And three, he rightly demonstrates that the primary responsibility of the Church (led by the Church’s Deacons) is to the poor and marginalized. But on every level, he is a model for deacons everywhere, because of his relationship to his Bishop and the care he had for his duties as administrator and care for the poor. His feast day is August 10. There have been many other notable Deacons throughout the life of the Church. 

 

       Now, for two of the most well-known Deacons of the early Church. Two men of the seven men that were chosen in the book of Acts (6:1-6). Although these seven men were never called Deacons in scripture, there duties or ministries were, that of the Deacons now.  In the Church, their ordination has always been considered, as the founding of the diaconate. When they were ordained, they were ordained to restore communion with the divided Jerusalem Christian community. They were to preach and teach the Word help with the needs of the poor, the widows and marginalized. Two of them, we know were, great preachers.  Stephen was so effective and prophetic in his preaching that the authorities stoned him to death because his listeners were enraged at his preaching. And so, Stephen was the first martyr of the Church.  Philip, was lead by the Spirit, to catechize the Ethiopian official in his chariot. And Philip proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus, and then baptized him. Then, after that, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing, but Philip found himself at Azotus, where he proclaimed the good news to all the towns till he came to Caesarea. 

 

       So we see that throughout the history of the Church, Deacons have and still do play a big part I the ministry of the Church, bringing souls to Christ. 




More History on the Deacon

 

       In the early Church, there are those in which the Church called the Apostolic Fathers. These are those people who were the successors to the Apostles, like, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Ignatius, Saint Ambrose, and so on. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, before he was martyred, wrote seven Epistles, and as you will read, all of them but one had references to the diaconate and the role in which the deacon has in the three offices of the ordained ministers in the Church.     

 

The Diaconate in Ignatius’ Epistles

by Anastasios D. Salapatas  “Theologia,” Vol.70 [1999], Issue 2-3, pp. 513-520

 

INTRODUCTION:   Ignatius and his Writings

 

       Ignatius is an exceptional figure of Christianity, “a man of intense devotion”, who lived and offered his episcopal ministry in the years of the so-called primitive Church.

 

       Ecclesiastical History has only preserved a few biographical elements about Ignatius; most of them come from his own writings. But his Epistles are not historical-biographical texts. Thus, they contain only very few details about Ignatius.

 

       From what we know he had been the second bishop of Antioch, starting his ministry at about 70 A.D. It is certain that he had met with some of the Apostles. The social environment in which he was brought up might have been Greek, or at least influenced by Greek culture (this is a conclusion we reach by studying his writings). During the years of the Roman persecution by Emperor Trajan, Ignatius was arrested and was brought to Rome in order to receive martyrdom. The common view today is that he was put to death at the Roman Stadium called Colosseum, sometime between the years 107 and 117.

 

       He called himself Theophoros, which is a very distinctive title for Christians and means the “God-bearer”. The title signifies the close spiritual relationship that he had with Christ. His memory is commemorated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on 20th December and in the Roman on the 1st of February.  At his last days before he died he wrote seven Epistles. These are as follows: to the Ephesians, to the Magnesians, to the Trallians, to the Romans, to the Philadelphians, to the Smyrnaeans and to Polycarp. The first four were written from Smyrna and the remaining three from Troas, in Asia Minor.

 

       The Epistles of Ignatius, written at a relatively early date, “have played an important role in the theological reflections of the Church and represent a central point of contention in the scholarly discussions of Christian origins”.

 

       The significance of the Epistles is so great, basically because in them we find the first clear and direct reference to the threefold ministry and the settlement of the ecclesiastical authority, the centre of which is the bishop.  These texts are of great importance to all of Christendom and because of them Ignatius has been acknowledged as “the first great theologian of the post-apostolic period and the first Father and Teacher of the Church”.

 

I. The Purpose of the Various Diaconal References in Ignatius’ Epistles

 

       It is true that the Epistles of Ignatius are full of references to the diakonos and to the diaconal function in the early Church. But it is also true that those references do not constitute the central theme in any of the Epistles.  The diaconal theme appears in these texts as part of the greater discussion concerning the ecclesiastical authority and the threefold ministry. Diaconal references may be found in all the Epistles except that addressed to the Romans.

 

       For the first time in the history of the Church the three ranks of priesthood are clearly mentioned together, in exactly the same order as we know them today. Diakonos(the deacon) is placed on the lowest level, or on the first rank of the Christian ministry, while presbyteros(the Priesthood) is on the second and the episkopos(the Bishop) on the third and obviously the highest.


       Ignatius is very clear on this matter of the Church ministry. He makes a great contribution to Ecclesiastical History by: 

(-1-) offering the names of the titles of the three officers (diakonos, presbyteros, episkopos),  

(-2-) presenting their functions, liturgical and pastoral, as they are found in his time,  

(-3-) making the point that they are different in function and distinct among themselves, 

(-4-) interpreting the threefold Church ministry as the earthly and visible ministry which resembles the heavenly prototype, and 

(-5-) emphasising the idea of unity in the Church, in accordance with the unity experienced within the Holy Trinity.

 

       Ignatius firmly believes that deacons, presbyters and bishops are “appointed according to the will of Jesus Christ”. He supports the view that deacons, presbyters and bishops are definitely a separate category of people, called to minister to the faithful. With his “prophetic voice” Ignatius calls the lay people to pay attention to them.  Therefore it becomes quite clear that the diaconal references in Ignatius are obviously offered as part of his theory of the ecclesiastical authority and the Christian ministry.

 

II. Episkopos – Diakonos Relationship According to Ignatius

 

       There are many interesting passages in Ignatius’ Epistles, where references may be found to the spiritual and even pastoral and liturgical relationship between episkopos, (the Bishop) and diakonos, (the deacon). Some of them are symbolic, others are realistic.

 

       The bishop Ignatius calls the deacons his “fellow slaves” and this is obviously a very important symbolic expression, which shows how highly the bishop regarded his deacons. The word “syndoulos”means that they are both (bishop and deacon) following the same spiritual path; they believe and follow the same Christ and to him they are both spiritually answerable.


       The deacon is “subject to the bishop”. A big discussion could open here. In our case we prefer only to point out some of the questions. Which are the areas in which the deacon is subject to the bishop? Is it on the administrative level? Is it connected to the pastoral work and responsibility that the deacon might have had? Or is it related to the diaconal liturgical function?  The actual fact is that the deacon in all these Ignatian writings seems to have been an “assistant to the bishop”. He does the will of the bishop as Jesus did the will of the Father. At the same time he is regarded by Ignatius as “most dear to him”, who has been “entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ”.

 

       According to W.R. Schoedel, “There is an especially close bond between bishop and deacon in Ignatius”. He interprets this relationship by suggesting that this may reflect an earlier stage in the development of the ministry when these two offices had not yet merged with the presbyterate. But other factors probably suffice to explain the special attention given to deacons by Ignatius: their active role in practical matters; in particular, their service to Ignatius personally; and a special concern on Ignatius’ part to support those whose position sometimes put them in “difficult situations”.

 

       As far as the relationship between the deacon and the presbyters is concerned there is only one reference in Ignatius’ writings, where the diakonosappears to be responsible “to the presbytery”. This relationship has not been defined very well “presumably because this is not the essential mark of the office”.

 

III. Diakonos: Model of Christ

 

       In Ignatius text references are found of the diakonosbeing a model of Jesus Christ Himself. It is quite obvious that Ignatius loves his deacons and regards them very highly.  The diakonos, who is closely working with his bishop, is “respected” as Jesus Christ, having been “entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ”.  According to Ignatius the episkoposis set over the people “in the place of God”, being “a type of the Father”. The presbyters are also compared with the apostles.

 

       In all the relevant references the diakonosappears to be a model, or a “symbol”, or even a “representation” of Christ. This idea seems to have been based on the New Testament. Our Lord, speaking about Himself and His ministry on earth, states  that  “the Son of Man  came  not  to be  served  (diakonHthHnai) but to serve (diakonHsai)”. Thus, He regarded Himself as a diakonosof the Church and of the people, offering therefore a diaconal prototype to the Christian Church.

 

       It could also be suggested that the diakonos, as an ecclesiastical figure who represents Christ, according to Ignatius, appears to have been more important than the presbyter, at least in the Church of Antioch, although he (the diakonos) certainly stands in the third place of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.  It is interesting to note that the Ignatian view of the diakonosbeing a model of Jesus Christ, is also found in some other early Christian writings, such as The Letter of Polycarp to the Phrlippians, Didascalia Apostolorumand Apostolic Constitutions. At a later stage diakonosbecomes the model of an angel. This is due to the liturgical development of the office. Saint John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia in Catechesesare clearly stating that the diakonosas he wears his orarion during the Church Services is like a flying angel. He also moves “between the sacred and the profane bearing messages” like the angels.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

       Ignatius Theophorus, the bishop of Antioch, is a great figure of the ancient Christian Church. He is the first most important theologian after the Holy Apostles. By studying his Epistles the modern scholar may find in them many details regarding the actual life of the Church in Ignatius’ era.  Among the main themes in Ignatius’ written thoughts are the ecclesiastical authority and the three ranks of the Christian priesthood. The diaconate which is the first and the lowest rank of priesthood is clearly mentioned in Ignatius’ texts, although this is not his central theme.

 

       The holy writer considers the diakonosand his diaconal ministry to be of a great value for the Church of Antioch and beyond. He, as the bishop of Antioch, is closely co-operating with the deacons in order to secure the best possible ministry for his flock. Ignatius is related spiritually to the deacons, according to his own writings, in exactly the same way as God the Father is related to Jesus Christ. Thus, the diakonosis considered as a model of Jesus, who according to the New Testament had been the first diakonosof the Church.

 

       The diakonosis always following the orders of his bishop, being answerable to him. But there is no clear reference in Ignatius’ texts as to the actual functions, pastoral, liturgical, or any other, of the diakonos. Finally, there is no direct mention to the deaconesses.

 

Did you know?  The first Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of St. Paul

was Deacon Morgan Newington of Athabasca, ordained on June 29, 1984.

 

 






 

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