In keeping with the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Pope Francis invites us to include deacons in our personal prayers for the month of May.
“We pray that deacons, faithful in the service to the Word and the poor, may be an invigorating symbol for the entire Church,” says Pope Francis.
But who exactly are we praying for? My Pope answers your FAQs about deacons:
What is a deacon?
The word deacon comes from the Greek word “diakonos,” meaning helper. Britannica.com defines it as “a member of the lowest rank of the threefold Christian ministry (below the presbyter-priest and bishop) or, in various Protestant churches, a lay official, usually
ordained, who shares in the ministry and sometimes in the governance of a congregation.”
There are two types of deacons, says aboutphilippines.org. Permanent deacons are ordained men who have no intention of becoming priests. They can be single or married, and have secular jobs to support themselves and their families. Visiting the sick, teaching the faith, counseling couples and individuals, working on parish committees and councils, and advising the pastor are among a permanent deacon’s duties.
Transitional deacons, on the other hand, are students in the last phase of training to be Catholic priests. After being a deacon for a year, they are ordained as a priest by a bishop.
Of late, Pope Francis has set up a new team of experts to determine the possibility of
women deacons in the Catholic Church.
What can and can’t a deacon do?
They can baptize, preach during Mass, officiate at a Catholic wedding, run a parish (with permission from the local bishop), and lead communion services, says aleteia.org. But they cannot consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions, and administer the sacraments of Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.
Also Read: Food For the Soul: The Holy Communion
Are there deacons in the Philippine Catholic Church?
Yes! There are transitional deacons (such as the 10 seminarians who were ordained at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in 2017) and permanent deacons, like the monk Dom Clemente Roque, OSB. The former rector-president of San Beda College Alabang (SBCA), now finance director of SBCA, has been a permanent deacon for 25 years.
But while the need for a permanent diaconate was recognized both by the Second Vatican Council (1962) and the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (1991), “the idea of permanent married diaconate is something new or even unknown to majority of Filipino Catholics,” wrote Domingo Q. Reblora Jr. and Antonio P. Viado in the article “Are Permanent Married Deacons Needed in the Philippine Catholic Church?”
Furthermore, the Philippines, notes Fr. Jerome Secillano, remains a priest-centered country.
What should we ask for deacons in our prayer?
That God “strengthen them in their preaching, strengthen them in their teaching, strengthen them in their service,” says Deacon John Krenson, in this prayer.