God is calling each of us to serve one another in charity and love, and Pope Francis speaks to this call constantly. For some there is a particular invitation to serve Christ and the Church in ordained ministry. The permanent diaconate, restored at Vatican II, is a ministry of service that is open to married and single men. In the words of St. John Paul II, the ministry of the deacon "is the Church's service sacramentalized."
Deacons are ordained to the Ministry of Service in three areas: Word, Sacrament, and Charity. As a servant to the Word, deacons proclaim the gospel, instruct the faithful, and evangelize by word and deed, as did the great deacons St. Stephen and St. Francis. As a servant of the sacramental life of the Church, deacons preside at baptisms, assist at the Eucharist, bring the Eucharist to the sick and suffering, witness marriages, bury the dead, and preside at benediction. As a servant of charity, like the great deacon St. Lawrence, deacons report the needs of the community to the Church and bring its support and assistance to those in need. The deacon is called to be the "Icon of Christ the Servant," living out the life of charity for the people of God and being an "animator" for all to feed the hungry, visit the sick, and care for one another in our brokenness.
Because deacons work in the secular world and most are married men with families, they share in the worries and stresses of daily life. Permanent deacons know well the difficulties of balancing faith, family, and financial security. Through the deacon living in the world as an ordained minister, the Church knows personally the challenges, demands, fears, and anxieties of the people of God. By his vocation, the deacon bridges work, family, and leisure with the life of the Church. In fact, by living and working in the secular world, the deacon seeks to model, in his person, the integration of what one believes and how one lives.
If you are discerning God's possible call to serve the Church as a minister of Charity, Word, and Sacrament as an ordained deacon in the Archdiocese of Boston, you and your wife are invited to take part in the upcoming Inquirer Program. The program consists of four sessions:
Session I: "Who is the Deacon and am I one who is called?" (Choose one of the following options for Session I. All sessions are from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EXCEPT Sept. 21 at St. Maria Goretti's, which will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
Sept. 20 -- St. Theresa's Parish (West Region), 35 South Main Street, Sherborn
Sept. 20 -- St. Jerome's Parish (South Region), 632 Bridge Street, Weymouth
Sept. 21 -- St. Maria Goretti Parish (North Region), 112 Chestnut Street, Lynnfield
Sept. 27 -- Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (South Region), 439 West Street, Brockton
Oct. 3 -- Episcopal Vicar's Office (Central Region), 841 East Broadway, Boston
Oct. 3 -- Sacred Hearts Parish (Merrimack Region), 165 South Main Street, Haverhill
Session II: "How does diaconate ministry fit into marriage and family life?"
Tuesday Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Pastoral Center, Braintree
Session III: "Application process, Canon Law, Formation from the wives' perspective"
Tuesday Oct. 25, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Pastoral Center, Braintree
Session IV: Half-day discernment retreat
Saturday Nov. 12, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (with lunch provided), Pastoral Center, Braintree
Those who are interested in the diaconate are strongly encouraged to attend all three events along with their wives. Please email me, Deacon Christopher Connelly, at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or to receive more information. The next group to be admitted into formation will begin classes in September 2017 at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization (TINE) in Brighton.
Our Church is global and multicultural and so we actively seek men for the diaconate from our many cultural communities in the archdiocese. Academic classes are offered in English, however, we are committed to offering support for those whom English is not the primary language. The Aspirancy Class beginning in the fall 2018 will have some classes available in Spanish.
Deacon Christopher Z. Connelly is Director of Permanent Diaconate Formation for the Archdiocese of Boston.