My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The Permanent Diaconate was reinstated by the Second Vatican Council, not just as a response to a reduced number of priests, but also in order to emphasize that the Permanent Deacon living in the world and serving in the Church forms a permanent bridge between the lay vocation and the vocation of one who is blessed with Holy Orders. These virtual bridges make the mission of the Church in the world today more visible through their work lives and vocation, which is enhanced by their vocation to the Diaconate. Also, most deacons are married and share the vocation to marriage. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity and commitment of both deacons and their wives to the mission of the Church.
The main responsibilities of the deacon are the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of Sacraments and works of charity. The deacon is entrusted with proclaiming the Word in various ways. He has the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel during the Eucharistic Liturgy. His sacramental responsibilities consist of the ability to baptize, to be the custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, and to officiate at marriages, as well as to prepare individuals for these sacraments.
Most of all, the origins of the Order of Deacon in the early Church are found in the very name “deacon,” which in Greek means “servant.” The Acts of the Apostles tells us that when the Apostles were busy with the proclamation of the Word, they were not able to wait on tables and serve the needs of the poor and the widows. So they chose seven men of good repute, who became the first deacons of the Church, and who attended to those needs.
Traditionally, deacons have always been charged with the service of the poor and the marginalized with what we know as the corporal works of mercy, visitation of prisoners and those who are sick. Deacons truly make Jesus present to His people. The deacons of today bring many gifts, not the least of which is their language abilities in the various cultures and languages represented in our Diocese. Truly, they are a blessing for the Church of Brooklyn and Queens.
In recent years, we have seen permanent deacons becoming stable employees of the Diocese in various capacities, in addition to their parish responsibilities. For example, Deacon Jaime Varela serves as my Master of Ceremonies and special assistant. Deacon Julio Barreneche is the Secretary for Clergy Personnel. Deacon Ed Gaine serves as Secretary for Human and Information Resources for the Diocese. Deacon Jorge Gonzales is director of the Diaconate Formation Program. Deacon Stanley Galazin works as the director of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston. In total, we are blessed to have about 15 deacons who work full-time for the Diocese. They have brought many of their skills to the service of the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens.
In the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to personally interview the candidates for the Permanent Diaconate along with their wives. Also, we participated in an evening of recollection with them. These individual meetings were both heartwarming and engaging. They were an opportunity for me to ascertain the motivations of our candidates, as well as to witness their enthusiasm for service to our Church. The Permanent Deacons who are married form a team with their wives, not just in the sacrament of marriage, but also in the sacrament of Holy Orders in which the deacons participate.
This year, in a special way, we are blessed with highly educated and successful men, half of whom are bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. During the interviews, I experienced an enthusiasm that is not easy to find in both the men and their wives. These couples truly want to give whatever they can to enhance the mission of the Church and assist God’s people. They come with energy and new ideas about how they can help the priests and parish communities through their service to the Church.
Also join me as we pray these days for those transitional Deacons who on June 3 will be ordained to the Priesthood. Those ordained on May 26 will permanently live the diaconate ministry, giving their time and talent for service to the Church. Anyone who puts out into the deep waters of ministry deserves our support and prayers.
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Related: Prepared to Serve