RESTORATION OF DIACONATE
In one sense, the deacon had long been absent from the collective consciousness of the Church's ministry; in another, deacons had never actually been absent. Deacons simply became part of a transitional passage of formation leading to eventual and ultimate ordination as priests. With the Second Vatican Council, however deacons again walked from the wings of history onto the stage of permanent ordained ministry in their own right.
On June 18, 1967, with the promulgation of the document Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (The Sacred Order of the Diaconate"), Pope Paul VI implemented the decision of the Second Vatican Council to revive the order of deacons as a permanent ministry in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
By 1970 there were some one hundred Latin Rite deacons serving around the world. Today (2011 ) there are over 43,000 deacons, increasing at the rate of about 5% per annum.
There are about 20 deacons in the Hamilton Diocese of New Zealand and there are aspirants currently in formation.
The diaconate is thriving in many parts of the world, and yet for many people, it remains largely a mystery.
What Deacons do in the church?
Deacons using personal gifts or talents to support lay ministries bring grace of the Order and personal gifts into the role which assists in development of lay ministries.
Deacons using specialist skills within the church complement the existing skills of priests and laity. e.g. Chaplaincy, Spiritual Direction.
Deacons ministering to Hospital, Port and prison chaplaincies, smaller Catholic communities, help foster and develop a vital and dynamic Church.
Deacons who are a sign of Catholic Marriage and Family Life publicly witness, in the name of Christ, the value of Christian marriage and family life.
Deacons who include and not exclude others show that the Church is intimately involved in the life and problems of all people. Deacons have a special responsibility to identify to the church those in need, without power or in the margins of society e.g. poor, prisoners, sick.
Deacons who foster new ministries bring to new life the Parish by serving fellow Catholics engaged in tasks and ministries. They inspire, promote and help co-ordinate service that the whole Church must undertake in the name of Christ.
Deacons can make Christ more relevant, human, more understood. While some deacons are retired, many are still working when they are ordained. They give witness to Christian values while at work as ordained ministers. Deacons are called to leadership in a special way, to find ways to promote justice and support Christian values in the world, in the name of the Church.