Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Does My Deacon Do?

  A few weeks ago I read a great post at Catholic Mothers Online entitled, "What does a Deacon Do Anyway".  I felt it was right on the money with many Catholics.  Before my dad became a deacon a few years ago, I had no idea what deacons did either.  I would see them at Mass, and hear them preach the Gospel and even sometimes do the sermon, but I didn't understand why they were doing these things and not the priest since he was perfectly capable and sitting right there!  I think this is probably the view of most uninformed Catholics, and maybe they even take it to another level where they may think the deacon is taking over the role of the priest.   My dad was victim this kind of ignorance in the parish where they were parishioners for 30 years.  Thankfully, they found another parish that welcomed my father as Deacon and have been very grateful for all the wonderful talents and gifts my dad (and mom) have brought to the parish.

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


Jamie Jo said...

That was beautiful!

So good to hear your father's "voice" here on your blog!!

Very good post.

Allison said...

Great post! My dad is in the process of becoming a deacon as well :) God-willing, he will be ordained in 2015!

noreen said...

And from what I understand, it's a volunteer job. Not a paid one. Must be a labor of love! We have 3 deacons at my church and two of them have been my bible study leaders. They are wonderfully dedicated men to spreading the Word of God and living out their faith.

Joanne said...

Thanks for the great post. God willing, my husband will be ordained a deacon in June after five years of formation. I expect it to be a time of transition for not only us but also whatever parish that he will be assigned to. Since we still have young children, we are hoping that he will be close to home in his assignment.

Sarah Harkins said...

Joanne and Allison, that is wonderful news about your husband and father in formation for the deaconate! The church is so blessed to have men who are willing to give there lives over to the service of God in this important way.

Noreen, there are some paid deacon positions, but not many. They certainly don't do it for the money- it more like they get paid because they need to pay for food and housing because they have given up their former jobs to serve the church. Kind of like a priest gets a stipend. Bottom line: It's a calling, not a job. and yes, a labor of love!