Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Robert Byrne CO

Permanent Diaconate

Becoming a Deacon

On the occasion of this year’s diaconal ordination, the number of permanent deacons in our Diocese rose to 38. What sort of ministerial life do the deacons undertake? Through ordination, the deacon receives the Gospel of Christ, whose herald the deacon is, to believe what he reads, to teach what he believes, and to practice what he teaches. How does a deacon do this? His ministry is based on a threefold life of service to the Word, to the Liturgy and to Caritas (charity in love).

In his Ministry to the Word, a key task of the deacon is to proclaim the Gospel. The deacon is to allow the Word of God, the Good News of the Gospel, to become an ever more intimate part of who he is, so that his perspective on life is grounded fully and deeply on the presence of God in his life. The family and community in which the deacon’s vocation is formed and nurtured, his openness to the presence of the Holy Spirit – through his prayer life – are solid foundations upon which the deacon will draw upon his experiences to preach and to break open the scriptures.

A programme of formation provides the student with plenty of material to study and digest! The first year is a propaedeutic year, a year of introduction into a formal prayer life, basic liturgy and a way of thinking with the Church. At the end of this year of discernment, the next step is to be admitted as a Candidate for the diaconate…

read the full article here (pdfword).

What is a deacon?

In the early church, deacons were very important. The Second Vatican Council saw the need to restore the Permanent Diaconate which is open to married men, and most dioceses throughout the world have begun to accept this need.

Increasingly, deacons are becoming involved in various ministries throughout our diocese. Some are involved in paid ministry such as hospital chaplaincy or lecturing, several are involved in various Diocesan commissions and associations such as Marriage and Family Life, Vocations, Diaconate Formation and Marriage Tribunals. All are involved in their local parish and community, some with added responsibility where there is no resident priest. Deacons are unpaid, most in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese are married men and their wives play an important part in the formation and ministry of deacons. The deacons are from a wide range of professional and educational backgrounds and together they form a diaconal community to support each other in their spiritual and ministerial lives.

What does a deacon do?

A deacon receives the sacrament of Holy Orders and is an ordained minister within the Roman Catholic Church. The clerical dress of a deacon is similar to that of a priest but the ministry of a deacon should not be confused with that of a priest. Deacons are ordained to serve the Church in a threefold ministry.

The Ministry of Charity

The deacon is particularly called to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised, and he will often coordinate the local church’s response to their needs. He must have a special care for matters of social justice and he should aim to foster and support parish groups and organisations that share this concern

The Ministry of the Word

The deacon will proclaim the Gospel and sometimes preach at Mass and other religious services.

He will preside at services other than the Mass and he will lead the people in prayer.

He will also officiate at funeral and burial services.

The Ministry of the Altar

The deacon has a special ministry during Mass and he will assist the bishop or priest who is presiding. He will distribute Holy Communion at Mass, in hospital and in the homes of the sick, the housebound and the dying. The deacon will baptise and help to prepare people for this sacramental celebration. He will also prepare people for the Sacrament of Marriage and he may officiate at their wedding.

Deacons assisting at masses and services in the Diocese: