Vocations View: The Identity and Role of a Deacon

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by Duane Trombetta, Seminarian

By the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is appointed to nourish the people of the Church with God’s Word and grace in the name of Christ.  He takes on a sacramental character and a share in Christ’s priesthood.  The word “ordination” comes from the Latin word ordinatio, which means “incorporation into an established, ordered, and governed body.”  Accordingly, Holy Orders are “ordered” into the three ranks of bishop, priest and deacon.

In a few short weeks, I will be ordained a deacon myself.  In this timely article, I will reflect upon the deacon’s identity (“who he is”), and his roles in the Church (“what he does”).

Though a deacon’s identity is different from that of a bishop or a priest, he does receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders – so, a deacon is a member of the ordained clergy. He is also a sharer in Christ’s mission and grace. In fact, a deacon holds this identity in a special way because his sacramental character configures him to Christ who is deacon, or servant, of all. In addition, a deacon is a sharer in the mission of the diocesan bishop. And because his respect and obedience extend to his local church, he is also a sharer in the mission of his pastor. Most of all, a deacon is a servant. This applies to his identity at the altar, in his administrative duties, to other clergy and, of course, to the people of God.

A deacon takes on some very important roles in the Church, each related to the “offices” of Christ: priest, prophet and king.  He participates in Christ’s priestly office by helping to sanctify the people – this includes assisting in the liturgy, celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony and presiding at Christian funerals.  A deacon participates in Christ’s prophetic office by proclaiming the Good News and by preaching homilies. Last but not least, a deacon participates in Christ’s kingly office by governing, guiding and administering within the parameters of his assignment – always submitting to the truth of the transcendent God.

It should be noted that ordination to the diaconate can be “permanent” or “transitional.”  This means that men over the age of 35, and married men may be ordained as permanent deacons to serve the diocese and a parish for life.

Alternately, suitable men who aspire to the priesthood may be ordained as transitional deacons for a short time, later to be ordained as priests. In the case of the transitional diaconate, the law of celibacy must remain, and he may not be married.  Regardless, both permanent and transitional deacons share the same identity and roles in the Church.

After six years of seminary studies and formation, I believe I am well-prepared and ready to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and to take on the identity and roles of a deacon.  I particularly identify with the diakonia of servant.  It is my hope and prayer to enjoy many years of ordained ministry to the people of the Diocese of Shreveport.

Duane Trombetta will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on Saturday, June 24, at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport. All are invited and encouraged to attend this event and support Duane as he takes one of his final steps towards becoming a priest.

Additionally, there will be an informational meeting for interested men on the Permanent Diaconate on Saturday, June 17 at 9:00 a.m. in the Youth Room of the Catholic Life Center next to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston. For more information on this meeting, contact Deacon Clary Nash, Director of the Permanent Diaconate, at cnash@dioshpt.org.

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