… organised by Deacon Rita Bullworthy (Exeter diocese). A great way for a deacon to be in the community at Christmas time!
… organised by Deacon Rita Bullworthy (Exeter diocese). A great way for a deacon to be in the community at Christmas time!
The Association for Episcopal Deacons’ website has posted their work on ‘Deacon competencies’ – similar to what I (your Ed) was working on with the Exeter Deacons’ Steering Group for Ministry Division in this country. It’s fascinating to see the work they have done, and to compare the documents. See ours on this blog here, where they are called ‘dispositions’.
Over the past few years the Vocational Development and Life Long Learning Task Force of AED had been charged with shaping a document that would outline the areas of competency used in successful Diaconal Formation Programs.
See http://www.episcopaldeacons.org/deacon-competencies.html for more.
Lucille Clifton, "john" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.
The role of deacons in the Church will be discussed by an international ecumenical gathering in Regina, Canada, next year, in a programme bringing together Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Ukrainian Catholics. The Revd Canon Michael Jackson, a deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada, described the gathering as “an academic conference about the diaconate” and said: “We hope lots of deacons are going to come . . . but it’s a conference about the diaconate, and anyone who’s interested in the diaconate is welcome to attend.”
The Anglican-Roman Catholic-Ukrainian Catholic Conference on the Diaconate will take place from May 10 to 13 next year at Campion College in the University of Regina. It is being sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina. Speakers and panellists from Canada, the US, England, and Scotland will address the liturgical role of deacons, women and the diaconate, the prophetic role of the deacon, and relationships between deacons and other ordained ministers.
Jackson has served as an Anglican deacon for four decades, and is the longest-serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. He is the Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant Implementation Committee. He hopes that the conference would lead to a better awareness and understanding of the diaconate, which he described as a very “current topic” in light of the revival of the permanent diaconate in the Anglican and Catholic churches.
“The diaconate is still not fully understood in both our communions, and I hope we’re going to get a better theological basis for the diaconate, a better understanding of it, and what deacons can do and their potential in the church,” he said.
“There is still this underlying view among Anglicans or Roman Catholics [that] ‘Well, a deacon’s just a partway-there minister. Really, the full ministry is the priesthood.’ And we are arguing that no, the diaconate is . . . a full and equal order.
“There are three orders of ministry in our traditions . . . bishop, priest, and deacon. And we’re trying to re-establish the deacon as an order in its own right, with its own integrity in the church – whether it be in the structure of the church, in liturgy, in ministry.”
Recent Anglican discussion on the diaconate has centred around the 2016 Iona Report, which outlined a new list of competencies for deacons, the Anglican Church of Canada said, adding that “Roman Catholics are currently embroiled in a debate regarding the ordination of women as deacons, following the establishment by Pope Francis of a Vatican commission to study the issue.”
The lead Catholic organiser of the conference, Brett Salkeld, currently theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina, said that the conference also reflected the good working relationship between the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses based in Regina.
The two churches have started a diaconate formation program together that is now in its fourth year, with its first cohort set to be ordained in June. “In a diocese where this will be our first cohort, a lot of people don’t really understand the role of the deacon,” he said. “So it’s really important for us to communicate that a deacon is its own specific ministry, and that it’s not like a miniature priesthood. It’s a different thing.”
“The idea for this conference was perfect. It’s a bunch of people who already know each other and who like working together . . . able to work on something that both of our dioceses are pursuing right now.”
Conference fees are $250 CAD (approximately £145 GBP), excluding accommodation. Registration is open until 29 April 2018.
Deacon Enzo Petrolino, a married permanent deacon of the diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova, Italy, has published a new book on the diaconate , not yet available in English, The Diaconate in the Thought of Pope Francis: A Poor Church for the Poor. He is president of the Council of Deacons in Italy.
The book is not yet available in English, but the prologue has been translated from Italian into Spanish by Deacon John Donaghy (the only permanent deacon in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras!) Pope Francis has written this prologue.
Prologue by Pope Francis
In the last few decades, the Church has lived an extraordinary spiritual and pastoral growth, due to the reception in depth of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Many papal documents have been published, beginning with Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, which have explained the Council in detail. In this context, the permanent diaconate has recovered the roots of its presence in the community of believers and even in a more extensive social fabric, on the one hand acquiring the consciousness of the service of Christ and the people and on the other hand receiving a new impetus through the orientations provided, during these years, by the Magisterium for the reflection in common by the church.
I want to thank the author, Enzo Petrolino, president of the Council of the Diaconate in Italy, who, thinking of the Jubilee of Deacons… wished to collect my texts related to the diaconate, including those from my episcopal ministry in Buenos Aires as well as the most recent which I have published as bishop of Rome.
Today it is interesting and important to analyze in depth the development of the permanent diaconate, from its renewal until the present, to understand its path better, through an interpretation which uses all the doctrinal, pastoral, and exhortative richness which has characterized the discourses addressed by the popes, in various occasions, to the deacons of the whole word in these years after the Council.
The Church encounters in the permanent diaconate the expression and, at the same time, the vital impetus to be converted into a visible sign of the diakonia of Christ the Servant in human history. The sensitivity for the formation of a diaconal conscience can even be considered the fundamental theme which ought to permeate Christian communities.
The service of the diaconal ministry finds its identity in the act of evangelizing, as John Paul II said in a homily in 1979, addressed to a group of new deacons, and reminding them of the words of the handing to them of the Book of the Gospels during their ordination: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” So then, you are called to carry the words of the Acts of the Apostles in your heart. In your role as deacons you have come to be and are associates of Peter, John, and all the apostles. You help in the apostolic ministry and share in its proclamation. As the apostles, you also ought to feel impelled to proclaim the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in word and works. Also you ought to experience the urgency to do good, to be of service in the name of Jesus crucified and risen, [and] the urgency to carry the Word of God to the life of his holy people.
Therefore, as I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel – it is good for priests, deacons and lay people to meet periodically to go over together the resources that make preaching more attractive.
Another important aspect is praying for vocations. All the faithful ought to assume their responsibilities relative to the care and discernment of vocation, including in reference to the ministry of the deacon. When the apostles were looking for someone to assume the place of Judas Iscariot, Peter gathered together 120 persons ((cf. Acts 1:15); and for the vocation of the seven deacons he called together the group of disciples (cf. Acts 6:1). Even today, the Christian community is always present in the birth of vocations, in their formation, and in their perseverance (cf. EG, 107)
In addition, all the diakonia of the church – of which the ministerial diaconate is sign and instrument – has its heart beating in the Eucharistic Ministry and is made real in the first place in the service of the poor who carry in themselves the face of Christ who suffers. The deacon Lawrence, who was the administrator of the diocese of Rome, when the Emperor asked him to bring the treasures of the diocese to pay something [to the emperor] and save himself, showed him the poor. The poor are the riches of the Church. If you have your own bank, if you are the owner of the bank, but your heart is poor and not attached to money, it will always be a heart at the service of others. Poverty is this type of detachment in order to server those in need , to serve others.
Therefore, a poor Church for the poor. I have already mentioned that during my election, Cardinal Hummes, the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paolo who was also the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, was sitting next to me. When I was elected Pope, he gave me a hug, he kissed me, and told me: “Don’t forget the poor!” And immediately, thinking of the poor, Saint Francis of Assisi came to mind. And thus also there came to my heart the name, Francis of Assisi, who was, according to tradition, a deacon. For me, he is the person of poverty, the person of peace, the person who loves and cares for creation. He is the person who ought to inspire deacons.
During the various stages of the diaconal path in these years, the papal magisterium has left a mark, at the same clarifying and stimulating regarding the faithful obedience and the joy which ought to accompany the mission of the deacon in the church and in the world today, extending the directives given by the Council, its scope, and the horizons of its action.
Those who work to promote the ministry of the deacon and who exercise it will be able to find in his different writings of the author published by LEV [Libreria Editrice Vaticana] and particularly the documents brought together in the Enchiridion [Enchiridion sul Diaconato/Compendium on the Diaconate], interesting ideas for a better understanding and deepening – even in the pastoral sense – of the identity and the role of permanent deacons in this time in which we are living.
The ministry of the deacon, thus, has to be seen as an integral part of the work achieved by the Council with the purpose of preparing the Church, in its integrity, to a renewed apostolate in today’s world. Deacons, rightfully, can be defined as pioneers of the new civilization of love, as Pope John Paul II liked to say. This is my longing, and I wish you a good and fruitful reading [of this book].
Vatican City, July 31, 2017
Full details by Deacon Greg Kandra on the Aleteia site https://aleteia.org/blogs/deacon-greg-kandra/pope-francis-writes-prologue-for-new-book-on-the-diaconate/
Eight new United Methodist deacons were ordained last month in the denomination’s East Africa Conference. Photos taken by Rev. Jerioth Wangeci.
A reminder of our ecumenical, worldwide vocation and ministry.
You can keep up to date with Diakonia World Federation on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/262487100432637/?fref=gs&dti=262487100432637&hc_location=group_dialog
Here is the DWF December prayer, written by Sister Elly Urio:
The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 CORINTHIANS 3:17
Lord, I am so very grateful that You are constant and unchanging. Thank you that Your Spirit in me is
constant and unchanging too. Thank you that, where Your Spirit is, there is liberty. Whenever I look to
You, I am being transformed by Your Spirit into Your image from glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Help me to
always reflect Your beauty. Keep me from looking at anything that would take away from Your glory in
Help me to value Your presence in my life more than I value anything else. I don’t ever want to do
anything to hinder the transforming work You want to do in me. When I look in the mirror I want to see
You reflected back. When other people look at me, I want them to see Your radiance too. Thank You
that you have the power to set me free from anything in my life that would keep me from all You have
In Jesus’ name I pray.
In recent centuries, the diaconate has only enjoyed a symbolical or transitional role in the church. Parish clergy are ordained to the priesthood after serving only briefly as deacons. It is as if they are expected to “move on!” or “move up!” The diaconate has been reduced to little more than a preparation or stepping-stone for the priesthood or episcopate. The latter two stages are often considered more significant for the ordained ministry, whereas the diaconate resembles a kind of sub-priesthood, rarely perceived as a lifelong or permanent office.
But this was not always the case—together with bishop and presbyters, deacons were regarded by Ignatius of Antioch toward the end of the first century as an essential part of the structure of the church, which realizes its unity—most completely and comprehensively—when the community is “with the bishop and the presbyters and the deacons who are with the bishop . . . Without these,” St. Ignatius adds, “[the community] cannot be called a church” (Letter to the Trallians).
St. John Chrysostom reminds us of how the early church perceived deacons when he remarks, “even bishops are called deacons” (Homilies on Philippians 1). Indeed, in the time of the apostles, there is no implication or indication that deacons were a condition or requirement for elevation to priesthood. This is why it is my conviction that there can be no clear understanding of the priesthood—or even of the episcopate—unless we first properly apprehend and appreciate the diaconate in and of itself. So in the early seventh century, Isidore of Seville would boldly state that without the ministry of deacons, the priest has the name but not the office—the priest consecrates, prays, and sanctifies; but the deacon dispenses, recites, and shares (De Ecclesciasticis Officiis).
A fuller vision of the ordained ministry should recognize the role of the bishop as the bond of unity and spokesman for doctrine; likewise, it should respect the role of the presbyter for celebrating the presence of Christ in the local community. Yet it should also realize the role of the deacon as servant in completing and complementing this circle of unity and community in the local church. Service by deacons goes beyond liturgics and reaches the community with gifts such as administration, education, pastoral and spiritual counseling, and youth work. And, in my opinion, these roles may just as easily be fulfilled by men and women alike.
Our theology of the priesthood—presently viewed as a pyramid with the episcopate at the top—should be turned upside-down, beginning not from the top down, but springing from the elementary and essential notion of diakonia, reflecting the one who “came not to be served, but to serve and give his life” (Mark 10.45), without whose service and sacrifice none of the priestly orders make any sense whatsoever. Any revolution in our appreciation and application of the priesthood, in all its breadth and diversity, will ultimately come from the bottom upward, from the grass roots. It is there that our faithful know what matters and what works in the church; it is also there that our faithful perceive the broader dimensions and implications of pastoral ministry. This is why it is crucial for a revitalization of the diaconate to occur, both for a reorientation of our ordained ministry as well as for a reinvigoration of our pastoral ministry.
Now, along with maintaining a sense of symmetry within the priesthood, the diaconate also maintains a balance of power in the church. And here, I believe, is where the heart of the problem lies. For the church fiercely resists any challenge to its current institutional authority. We must learn to pursue an attitude of humility and not of power, to practice ecclesial forms impregnated by simplicity and not ceremony, to retain a vision of transforming the church as an organization of hierarchy into a community of service without nostalgia for the past but with openness toward the kingdom.
Without deacons, a parish becomes progressively insular rather than catholic, increasingly parochial rather than global. Deacons ensure the universal dimension of the church. In many ways, deacons are the missing link in preserving the fullness of church doctrine or, at the very least, in preventing a form of “monophysitism” in the institutional church. You see, the church preaches a God perceived as Trinity and a church conceived as conciliarity and community.
If we properly understand the diaconate, then we will also better understand the other orders of the priesthood. We will understand why and how women can quite naturally—by which I mean traditionally, rather than exceptionally—participate in the diaconate without triggering fears of ordination to the presbyterate or foregoing theological discussion about the male priesthood. Candid conversation about the priesthood can only enrich our appreciation of both the ordained ministry and the royal priesthood. And “if this idea or exercise is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, no one will be able to overthrow it” (Acts 5.38-39).
In this way, the diaconate will be expanded and enhanced to reflect a modern ministerial expression, even while being rooted in the historical apostolic experience. After all, beyond administration and authority in the church, there is service and . . . serving. Beyond observing liturgy and sacraments, there is attending to people as the living altar on the body of Christ. Perhaps deacons will gradually awaken other, fresh ministries, not restricted to traditional roles and expectations. A creative revival of the diaconate for men and women in our age can become the source of resurrection for the ordained ministry as a whole, thereby playing a crucial role in the broader mission of the church. In this respect, the restoration of the diaconate may well prove both timely and vital.
Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis is a deacon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
This essay is part of a series on the diaconate in the Orthodox Church derived from talks delivered at the St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess “Renewing the Male and Female Diaconate in the Orthodox Church Conference” in Irvine, California in October 2017.
Public Orthodoxy seeks to promote conversation by providing a forum for diverse perspectives on contemporary issues related to Orthodox Christianity. The positions expressed in this essay are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.
Today the church remembers with thanksgiving Deacon Nicholas Ferrar.
Nicholas Ferrar, born in 1592, was the founder of a religious community that lasted from 1626 to 1646.
After Nicholas had been ordained as a deacon, he and his family and a few friends retired to Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England, to devote themselves to a life of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (Matthew 6:2,5,16). They restored the abandoned church building, and became responsible for regular services there. They taught the neighborhood children, and looked after the health and well-being of the people of the district. They read the regular daily offices of the Book of Common Prayer, including the recital every day of the complete Psalter. (Day and night, there was always at least one member of the community kneeling in prayer before the altar, that they might keep the word, “Pray without ceasing.”) They wrote books and stories dealing with various aspects of Christian faith and practice. They fasted with great rigor, and in other ways embraced voluntary poverty, so that they might have as much money as possible for the relief of the poor.
The community was founded in 1626 (when Nicholas was 34). He died in 1637 (aged 45), and in 1646 the community was forcibly broken up by the Puritans of Cromwell’s army. The memory of the community survived to inspire and influence later undertakings in Christian communal living, and one of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets is called “Little Gidding.”
Lord God, make us so reflect thy perfect love; that, with thy Deacon Nicholas Ferrar and his household, we may rule ourselves according to thy Word, and serve thee with our whole heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Nicholas Ferrar’s legacy lives on, in the hearts and prayers of deacons for whom he’s an inspiration, and in Ferrar House which is a small retreat centre.
Recently, the Archbishop of York, an enthusiastic advocate, support and friend of the diaconate, published his Presidential Address to his Diocesan Synod (5 November 2016) advocating a fresh approach to ministry.
He asked for copies to be distributed to everyone in church communities across the Diocese of York.
This is now available in booklet form: see link and also this blog’s pages (right hand side)
Here’s what he says about deacons:
Their aim is that the work of service may go on. The word used for service is diakonia; and the main idea which lies behind this word is that of practical service. The office-bearer is not to be a person who simply talks on matters of theology and of Church law; they are in office to see that practical service of God’s poor and lonely people goes on.
This means that every mission unit (parish) must have office-bearers who are equipped by the Gifts of Grace. In every mission unit there must be a desire for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Evangelists, pastors and teachers, a Renewed Diaconal Ministry, Presbyters, and differing ministries by every one. When the Ministry of Readers was restored 150 years ago, they were meant to be the go-between the Church and the World. Frankly this is what the office-bearer of Deacon is as we see in Acts 6 and in our Ordinal.
The Ordination of Deacons
God calls his people to follow Christ, and forms us into a royal priesthood, a holy nation, to declare the wonderful deeds of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light..
The Church is the Body of Christ, the people of God and the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. . In baptism the whole Church is summoned to witness to God’s love and to work for the coming of his kingdom.
To serve this royal priesthood, God has given a variety of ministries. Deacons are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped  to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others. 
 cf 1 Peter 2.9; Exodus 19.6; Revelation 1.6, 5.10
 cf 1 Corinthians 12.27; 1 Peter 2.10; 1 Corinthians 3.16
 cf Ephesians 4.12
 cf John 13.14
It would be good to have a Leadership Team in every Mission Unit.
It would be good to have Prayer-Triplets in every Mission Unit.
It would be good for every Leadership Team to discern the gifts in the Body of Christ in that place; and we will commission them.
It would be good to turn Multi-Benefice Parishes into manageable United Parishes, and to hold an act of worship in every church on Sunday. We will train catechists to do this.
Radically, he also is encouraging Readers who believe their ministry is primarily diaconal, to explore the diaconate with vocations advisers:
Clearly some Readers know themselves to be called to the ministry of pastor/teacher. We honour this. Maybe they should be commissioned as such – at their licensing. But some may know themselves to be called to the ministry of deacon. These we should ordain and like in the Porvoo Churches they will not be allowed to seek the possibility of Ordination to the Priesthood before seven years in the Ministry of Deacon.
The full document can be found here http://dioceseofyork.org.uk/uploads/attachment/3655/the-church-on-earth-is-the-embassy-of-heaven.pdf