Irish Catholic Church introducing Permanent Deacons
Permanent Deacons have already been ordained for the Diocese of Elphin and the Archdiocese of Dublin and may be a feature of the Diocese of Cork and Ross in the future.
A decision to introduce the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Cork and Ross was made by Bishop Buckley in April 2013. Having completed the Introductory Year (Propaedeutic Period) two Aspirants commenced their 3 year part time course of study at Thurles in September 2014. Another candidate is presently undertaking the Introductory Year under the guidance of the Diocesan Director for the Permanent Diaconate for Cork and Ross, Fr. Bertie O’Mahony.
What is the Diaconate?
The diaconate is an ordained ministry, of which there are three: bishop, priest and deacon. In December 2006, the Irish bishops announced the publication of the National Directory and Norms for the Permanent Diaconate, which has been approved by the Holy See.
The ministry dates from the time of the apostles. In the New Testament (Acts 6), the twelve apostles agreed to dedicate themselves to prayer and to the service of the word, and handed over the duty of looking after orphans and widows to others. It was from this that the ministry of the diaconate emerged.
The Second Vatican Council (1960s) introduced a rediscovery of the permanent diaconate as an important role in the Church.
Today candidates on the path to priesthood, become deacons a year before they are ordained, and during the Holy Orders for diaconate, they take on the commitment to celibacy.
The word ‘deacon’ means ‘service’.
What Deacons Do?
The diaconate is an ordained ministry, but unlike the other two ministries with Holy Orders, married men may apply to be permanent deacons. Deacons would not normally wear a clerical collar, but do wear vestments when officiating at the liturgy.
Deacons can read the Gospel, preach, baptise, preside at funerals and weddings and bring Communion to the sick, but they may not anoint the sick, say Mass or hear Confessions.
Who can be a Deacon?
According to the new directory on the diaconate, candidates for the permanent diaconate will be men with a good knowledge of the Gospel, a well established spiritual life, and a proven willingness to serve others, even at some personal cost.
The minimum age for admission to the permanent diaconate is twenty-five years for a celibate candidate, and thirty-five years for a married candidate. The maximum age is sixty years. While married men may be ordained, deacons who are widowed may not remarry.
Study for Diaconate?
It will take four years for a man to become a permanent deacon – a preliminary year, before he is accepted as a candidate, followed by three years of formation, in a part-time course, involving the study of theology and philosophy, as well as pastoral, spiritual and human formation.
The Role of the Diaconate
The bishops emphasise that deacons are not a replacement for the priest. They said they were concerned that all Catholics would be helped to participate actively in the life of the Church, and “the diaconate should facilitate that rather than be in any sense an impediment to that participation”.
As a general rule deacons will be appointed to a parish near their home, and entrusted by the bishop with specific responsibilities. Some deacons may take on specialised ministries in keeping with their gifts and experience. Most deacons will exercise a part-time voluntary ministry. They will be paid expenses associated with formation and ministry by their diocese or parish.
Permanent Diaconate 2017
The next introductory year will begin in September 2017 and those interested should contact their local priest or the Diocesan Director of the Permanent Diaconate for Cork and Ross:
Fr. Bertie O’Mahony, Parochial House, Model Farm Rd., Cork.
Tel: 021-4346940 or on mobile 087-2519940
Among you as one who serves
A short guide to the Permanent Diaconate in Ireland (Published in April 2009 by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference):
The Permanent Diaconate – National Directory and Norms for Ireland
(December 2006 | Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference)