Diaconate.org.uk is the website of the permanent deacons of England and Wales. The website is also used by those in formation for the permanent diaconate, and those considering their vocation. It links to many pages of topical interest to deacons. There is also a forum where members may ask for and offer advice and comments on a range of issues linked to our very varied ministries as ordained members of the body of Christ. To visit the website, please click here.
What is a deacon?
A man in Holy Orders, called to be a sign of Christ the Servant.
The Church, from the apostolic age, had a threefold ministry of bishop, priest and deacon: (see Acts 6). Permanent deacons gradually disappeared from the Church towards the end of the first millennium, though the Church was aware that a part of the ministry was missing. The Second Vatican Council, following the intention of the Council of Trent, restored the diaconate. This ministry acts as a lasting, living reminder to us all of our collective calling to serve: so that the whole Church may better live out this spirituality of service, the Lord gives her a living and personal sign of his very being as servant.
What does a deacon do?
A deacon’s ministry is not what he does, but his whole life from the moment of his ordination.
In particular, he has a service of the Word, of charity and of the altar.
Service of the Word.
The deacon proclaims the Gospel, and may preach at Mass. He teaches the Faith, and strives to live it. He takes the good news of Christ out into the communities from which he comes. The formation process prepares him to do this.
Service of Charity
At a deacon’s ordination, the bishop prays that he will be “full of all the virtues, sincere in charity, solicitous towards the weak and poor, humble in their service, and...the image of your Son who did not come to be served but to serve.”
By word and example they should work so that all the faithful in imitation of Christ may place themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters. Many deacons have a ministry in prisons, hospitals, or schools.
Service of the Altar
The deacon’s ministry has its point of departure and arrival in the Eucharist, and cannot be reduced to simple Social Service. At Mass he assists the priest at the altar and dismisses the people at the end – as well as proclaiming the gospel. He will take the Blessed Sacrament to the people, and may baptize, conduct funerals, and assist at marriages outside of Mass. In all things, he aims to support the ministry of both priest and people.
Who should apply to be a deacon?
Men who yearn to serve Christ, His Church, and those outside the Church: and who believe they may have a calling to serve within the ordained ministry.
If single, they will remain celibate after ordination. If married, they would not remarry (should their wife predecease them) after ordination.
They must be over 35 and under 60.
They must be active members of the Church, and show commitment to service in the parish.
They must be men of sound faith, frequently at Mass and at prayer.
The part time formation period normally takes about 4 years. The academic work is constructed to be possible even for those who have been out of the habit of study since their schooldays.
If married, a man must have the support of their wife and be able to give sufficient time to formation and ministry without negatively impacting the lives of his family.
Most are men in full time employment, and the process is designed to take that into account.
The Diaconate in Plymouth Diocese.
Director of Deacons: Father Richard Meyer, assisted by members of the Diaconate Team.
There are 35 permanent deacons in the diocese. Most work in parishes; some have specialist ministries, for example in prisons, hospitals and schools.
Our men are trained for the diaconate on a part-time course based at St John's Seminary at Wonersh, near Guildford.
To find out more contact the director:
Fr Richard Meyer
01308 863 669