One thing I learned from my dad was why a deacon proclaims the Gospel and not the priest at Mass. He said one of the main functions of a deacon is to preach the Gospel -both literally and figuratively. I never was so proud of my dad as I was when I saw him proclaim the Word of God for the first time the day after he was ordained. What an honor to be called by God to proclaim the living Word of God!
Here are some more things about deacons that you may not know:
*Guest Post by my Dad*
What can you do as a Catholic deacon? Well, the short answer is that the deacon assists at Mass as “the deacon of the Mass”, administers baptism, officiates at marriages, wake services, funerals, benediction, and prayer services. That is some of his functions but perhaps a more accurate description can be found not in his function but in his being. Thus a better question might be; what is a deacon?
A deacon is not a “mini priest” nor a glorified alter server, but has a separate and distinct ministry. Just as a mother is not defined by her functions, what she does, but a mother is described best by who she is. So it is also with the Catholic Permanent Deacon.
Permanent Catholic deacons (vastly different from protestant deacons) are ordained men. That makes them part of the church hierarchy subject to obedience to the local bishop. With that said, the deacon is not a man elevated to the ranks of the clergy to be served. Instead he is ordained to serve others in the church and his environment.
Most permanent deacons have secular jobs; many are married with families. The uniqueness is that they are very ordinary common men, ordained to serve the church in a special way as a deacon, a cleric living as a secular. I think of it as the world of the hierarchy streaming into the secular world. Personally I feel like I have one foot in the clerical world and the other in secular one.
As a married permanent Catholic deacon I have two vocations. My first and foremost is marriage and family. When I was ordained in 2008, my bishop reminded me that my first vocation is to be a good husband and father. My second vocation is clerical ministry serving the church as a deacon. Bishop Kinney told me that I cannot be a good deacon unless I place my first vocation (marriage) first in my life.
Every deacon has different circumstances in their life and it is not always easy to maintain a proper balance. Many times the family life suffers when the clerical life takes over. The result can be a meltdown of both vocations. I firmly believe that prayer and good relationships is the key to proper balance in life. That is why my wife Bonnie and I pray together every night. We need prayer, to keep us grounded in our relationship with each other as well as our relationship with God and others.
In ending, I recall the words of Bishop John Kinney “it’s not about the deacon, the priest, or the bishop. It’s all about Jesus Christ and how we bring that presence into this world”.
Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg