PORTLAND---In 2021, the Diocese of Portland is planning to begin a period of discernment for men who feel called by God to undertake the ministry of the diaconate in the Catholic Church.
A permanent deacon is an ordained minister that is not ordained to the priesthood but to service. Deacons proclaim the Gospel and preach; baptize; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and minister in different settings, from the traditional parish to prisons, hospitals, convalescent homes, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and many others.
“Ordained by the bishop, they serve as the bishop directs. Usually, this is in a parish setting, but it could be anywhere the bishop feels a need. The deacon works in harmony with the priests and the bishop to build up the Kingdom of God,” said Deacon Peter Bernier, director of the Office of Ministerial Services in the Diocese of Portland.
Potential deacons should be men of faith who profess what the Church teaches, participate in the Church’s sacramental life, and possess a history of service-oriented involvement.
“If married, these men need to be recognized as having sound, stable marriages, lived generously with their wives and children,” said Deacon Bernier.
A deacon’s marriage always remains his first vocation. Deacons, with their wives and families, can be a great source of encouragement to all others who are working to promote family life.
“By facing with faith and hope the challenges of married life and the demands of daily living, deacons strengthen the family life not only of the Church community but of the whole of society,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “In restoring the diaconate to the life of the Church as a distinct ministry, the fathers of Vatican II spoke of deacons as those who ‘strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate, serve the people of God in the service of the liturgy, the word and charity.’”
The diaconate dates back to the days the apostles. It is one of three ranks of holy orders in the Catholic Church: deacons, priests, and bishops. Deacons are considered a bridge between the Church and the secular world because many hold secular jobs.
Currently, there are 51 permanent deacons in the diocese. On September 16, 2017, eleven men were ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Portland, the largest class of permanent deacons ever ordained in Maine.
"My brothers, you are called to be servants," the bishop told the eleven during his homily that day. “It is the heart of the ministry of the deacon. You are called to be servants of the mysteries of Christ and, at one and the same time, to be a servant of your brothers and sisters."
To view the necessary qualifications for a deacon, click here.
For more information or to inquire about the discernment process, contact Deacon Peter Bernier at (207) 321-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.