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I Have Given You an Example. The Permanent Diaconate In the Archdiocese of Dublin. Going to the Source.

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i have given you an example

I Have Given You an Example

The Permanent Diaconate

In the

Archdiocese of Dublin

going to the source
Going to the Source

During supper, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have givenyou an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.


key church documents
Key Church Documents

Universal Church

  • Lumen Gentium: The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964)
  • Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (1967)
  • Basic Norms For The Formation Of Permanent Deacons (1998) & Directory For The Ministry And Life Of Permanent Deacons (1998)


  • The Permanent Diaconate: National Directory and Norms for Ireland (2006)
  • Restoring the Permanent Diaconate: Practical Questions to be addressed in the Irish Context (2003)
  • Enquiries and Applications for Admission into Formation for Ordained Ministry: A Model of Best Practice (2005)

The key document is the 2006 National Directory and Norms, which is based on the two Roman documents of 1998.


the diaconate and the sacrament of orders
The Diaconate and the Sacrament of Orders

From the outset, the 1998 documents identify the diaconate as:

  • An element of the threefold Sacrament of Orders
  • Instituted by Christ
  • By virtue of which the recipient is configured to Christ (cf. (Joint Introduction, 1)

Permanent deacons are frequently referred to, incorrectly, as “lay deacons.”

The restoration of the permanent Diaconate was in no manner intended to prejudice the meaning, role or flourishing of the ministerial priesthood, which must always be fostered because of its indispensability.

(Basic Norms and Directory,Joint Introduction)


why restore the permanent diaconate
Why Restore the Permanent Diaconate?

Three reasons lay behind the decision to restore the permanent diaconate as a distinct ministry:

a desire to enrich the Church with the functions of the diaconate, which otherwise, in many regions, could only be exercised with great difficulty;

the intention of strengthening with the grace of diaconal ordination those who already exercised many of the functions of the Diaconate;

a concern to provide regions, where there was a shortage of clergy, with sacred ministers.



Active Role of the Lay Faithful

The lay faithful, by virtue of their Baptism, are commissioned to an active apostolate and “every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.” Lumen Gentium

The active role of the lay-faithful in the future of our diocese is not, therefore, negotiable.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin


application and discernment
Parish Priest has a key role

Acceptance of the applicant depends on PP’s recommendation because he will have a key role in

Providing an opportunity for coherent pastoral activity

Supervising pastoral activity in the formation period

Working with the deacon after ordination and

helping him to integrate his ministry into the broader pastoral activity of the parish

Roles analogous to PP

Role of Diocesan Director

If the PP is happy to recommend the applicant

He refers him to the diocesan director

Diocesan director will meet him to explore further

Will meet his wife and family (if applicable)

Will carry out the initial gathering of documents

Will work with applicant and PP towards a decision about entrance to the propaedeutic (pre-formation) programme

Will, if accepted, be his point of reference during that programme,

Application and Discernment


the propaedeutic period
The Propaedeutic Period
  • Takes place prior to formal selection
  • Five residential weekend meetings for prayer, instruction and reflection oriented towards a mature discernment
    • The focus is not academic
    • A formation community (not isolated individuals)
    • Should ideally involve wives or married candidates
  • Some degree of pastoral engagement in the parish, under the supervision of the parish priest
  • Regular spiritual direction
  • Concludes with a recommendation to the bishop

National Directory and Norms # 38-44; Practical Questions # 6


the five weekends
The Five Weekends

Weekend One: Focus on the Call to Ministry

  • This weekend will focus on ministry in the Church, both in general and with specific reference to the Diaconate.

Weekend Two: Ministry and Marriage.

  • This weekend will provide an opportunity to look at some of the implications of ministry as a Permanent Deacon in relation to the candidate’s marriage.

Weekend Three: Prayer and Spiritual Direction.

  • The focus of this weekend will be on spiritual formation. Applicants will be helped to explore various approaches to and supports for prayer, as well as spiritual direction.

Weekend Four: Personal Awareness and Development.

  • The focus of this weekend is to help the participants look at their personal strengths and limitations as well as areas for continued human formation.

Weekend Five: Interview.

  • The principal focus of this weekend will be the process of interview.


selection of candidates
The process (which extends through the propaedeutic period)is to be analogous to that which is used for selecting candidates for priesthood




Directory and Norms. # 27-28

Practical Questions # 5

cf. Enquiries and Applications for

Admission into Formation (2005)

Age: 35-60 (married) or 25-60 (celibate)

60 is the upper age for ordination

General Criteria:

Familiarity with the gospel

Well founded spirituality and sacramental life

Capacity to read and listen intelligently and critically

Capacity to engage and work constructively with others

Significant level of personal freedom

Absence of significant compulsions and addictions

Love of the Church

Proven readiness to serve others, even at some personal cost

Selection of Candidates


formation programme
Begins with Admission to Candidacy

Three Year Formation Period

The same four areas as in Pastores Dabo Vobis





Courses of formation to be approved by the National Accreditation Body

“Not less than 1,000 hours” of lectures and seminars.

(This implies fitting the equivalent of a full time degree programme into a part time formation. How to manage this?)


Candidates who have already completed programmes

Academic standard and completeness

Orientation towards ministry

On-going formation

Formation Programme

National Directory and Norms # 45-60; Practical Questions # 6


marriage family celibacy
Marriage & Family Celibacy
  • A married man may be ordained with the formal consent of his wife
  • The marriage should be “a stable union characterised by love”
  • The needs and concerns of children should be considered
  • Participation of wives in formation helps to ensure that diaconate and marriage are integrated
  • Pastoral care of the families of deacons
  • Single men make a promise of celibacy
  • Widowed deacons do not remarry

(Cf. National Directory and Norms # 31-33; Practical Questions # 7)


ordination canonical mission
Ordination & Canonical Mission

Liturgical admission to candidacy

  • Conferral of Ministries at appropriate intervals
  • Ordination (incardination - rights and responsibilities)
  • Canonical Mission
    • To be specified concretely by the bishop (no lone-rangers)
    • In accordance with the pastoral plan for the diocese
    • A designated priest to whom the deacon is responsible
  • Deployment and re-deployment
    • The good of the individual, the family and the parish
    • Balancing stability and mobility

Cf. National Directory and Norms #61-68; Practical Questions # 8-9


identity and ministry who the deacon is what he will do

Sacramental sign

Configuration with Christ

icon of Christ the Servant

Ministry(flows from identity)


Assisting at the altar

Bringing the Eucharist to the sick

Formation of altar servers and eucharistic ministers

Baptism & Marriage

Christian Burial


Proclaiming the Gospel

Facilitating study and prayer with the Scriptures

Sacramental preparation

Formation of readers

Charity(extension of Eucharistic ministry)

Visiting the sick, prisoners & the bereaved

Youth ministry

Promoting awareness of Catholic Social Teaching

Promoting justice & human rights

Administration of Church property

Identity and MinistryWho the deacon is & what he will do


partnership in ministry
Partnership in Ministry

The ministry of the deacon is to be integrated with, and not to replace other forms of ministry

  • Collaboration with the bishop (promise of obedience)
  • Pastoral co-operation with the presbyterate
  • Joint ministry with lay-people who have been entrusted with a specific pastoral mission (whether full-time or part-time; employed or voluntary)
  • Belonging to the Church on a juridical, affective and spiritual level

(National Directory and Norms #21 ff & Practical Questions # 12)


a voluntary ministry
A Voluntary Ministry

A deacon at all times and in every situation

  • Full-time or part-time ministry
    • Expenses
    • Stipends (?)
  • A clear agreement or contract before formation begins
    • Insurance /Professional Indemnity
    • Solidarity

Cf. Practical Questions # 18


employment and remuneration
Employment and Remuneration
  • Employment by the Church
    • Distinguished structurally from voluntary ministry
    • Appropriately remunerated
  • Professional life

Must be practically and morally consistent with the exercise of diaconal ministry

Cf. National Directory and Norms 34ff; Practical Questions #10-11


other considerations
Other Considerations
  • Change of residence / retirement
    • Re-deployment within the diocese
    • Transfer to another diocese
  • Form of dress
    • For liturgy
    • For non-liturgical ministry
    • Special circumstances
  • Form of address