Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church,1570)
The establishment of the diaconate took place with the ordination of the seven deacons described in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 6:1-7) Among these deacons were St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and St. Philip the Deacon. While the permanent diaconate has always been maintained by the Eastern Church, it was at the Second Vatican Council that the restoration of the permanent diaconate was recommended for the Western Church. This restoration began in Canada in 1969 and in our own diocese in 1998 by Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry.
How do Permanent Deacons Serve?
Deacons are a permanent sign of Christ the Servant, no matter where they are or what they are doing. They extend the sacramental presence of Christ’s service outside of the Church building and into the secular world. Diaconal service is modelled after the threefold apostolic ministry of the Bishop: the ministry of charity, the ministry of the Word and the ministry of Sacrament.
- Ministry of Charity: Deacons personally serve the poor, the aged, the sick and the imprisoned, bringing the Gospel to all those in need. They preach and embody social justice.
- Ministry of the Word: Deacons proclaim the Gospel and preach at liturgical celebrations, provide catechetical instruction, offer adult faith formation and lead sacramental preparation.
- Ministry of Sacrament: Deacons assist priests during Mass, administer baptisms, witness marriages, preside at funerals with no Mass and at wakes, officiate at Benediction and lead community prayer services.
Deacons do not celebrate Mass, hear confessions, or anoint the sick
Who Serves as a Deacon?
Candidates for the Permanent Diaconate are Roman Catholic, baptized males who exemplify these qualities:
- Practice of the faith for at least 5 years;
- Between the ages of 35 and 60 when Formation Begins (September 2019);
- Good moral reputation and character;
- In a valid marriage or living celibately if single or widowed with the active, engaged support of his wife to participate in the Diaconate Formation Program;
- Actively involved in a parish community and ecclesial movements;
- Sound physical and psychological health;
- Economically stable and self-sufficient;
- Resident of the Diocese of Calgary;
- Living a deep sacramental, spiritual life evidenced by attendance at Mass, reception of the sacraments, the recommendation of their pastor, and participation in spiritual exercises and retreats.
Deacon — a ministry of service.
Formation of Deacons
Diaconal candidates participate in a program of human, spiritual, theological and pastoral formation sessions in the evenings and on weekends.
- Human Formation to minister, work and serve the people of God.
- Spiritual Formation consists of retreats, study days, spiritual direction and commitment to the Liturgy of the Hours.
- Theological Formation focuses on the central teachings and practices of the Church and the development of pastoral skills.
- Pastoral Formation brings together all the components into supervised fieldwork experiences of homiletics, catechesis, liturgy, pastoral roles in hospitals, prisons, youth groups, RCIA, sacramental preparation or other parish involvements.
An Invitation from Bishop William McGrattan
I invite men who believe that they have the qualifications and interest necessary for service of the Church as a deacon to begin to pray for guidance. If you are married, you should pray together with your wife confident that the Lord who has strengthened you by the sacrament of matrimony will help you to discern whether He is calling you to embrace a second sacramental call.
Together let us place our petition for the fruitfulness of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Calgary in the hands of the Virgin Mary, the Diocesan Patroness, asking her to watch over candidates for this ministry who will proclaim the Word faithfully, serve the liturgy reverently and care for the needs of the community joyfully.
In Christ, the Servant,
+ Most Reverend William McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary
If you think God may be calling you to service as a permanent deacon, speak with your parish priest or contact the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
Fr. Julian Studden
Vicar for the Permanent Diaconate
c/o St. Albert the Great Parish
10 Prestwick Dr. SE
Calgary, AB T2Z-4J6