Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Deacon as servant

On May 16, God willing, Bishop Darwin Andino of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, will receive me as a candidate for the diaconate.

As I noted in a previous post, this is not something that I had sought. But after urging from Padre German and Bishop Andino, and much discernment, accompanied by prayer, reading, and conversations with friends and advisors, I felt called to accept the call to begin the journey toward the diaconate.

There is no assurance that I will be ordained to the permanent order of the diaconate, but I leave all that in God’s hands.

In the next days leading up to day of my admission as a candidate, I will try to write something about the diaconate and my sense of what this would mean for me.


When I was discerning if I was being called to come to Honduras, my spiritual director, as well as two good friends, asked me why.

My immediate response was “to serve those most in need.”

That has been central to my pastoral ministry here, even though I have not always lived it.

But these questions guide my presence here in western Honduras:
  • How can I serve God’s people in need? 
  • How can I help them make a difference in their lives in all its aspects? 
  • How can I accompany them as they week to become people who live lives of dignity and reflect the vision of the Reign of God that is central to Jesus’ teaching?
When I began reading about the diaconate, I was struck at the centrality of service to the life and mission of a deacon.

In Lumen Gentium, the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the bishops call for the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order. Deacons “serve the People of God in the ministry of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity.”

In later documents it is noted that the deacons is called to be an “animator” or “driving force” for service.

Speaking to deacons in the US in 1987, Pope John Paul II noted:

By your ordination you are configured to Christ in his servant role. You are also meant to be living signs of the servanthood of his Church.

I must admit that this surprised me a bit. My impression of the diaconate, based on my very limited experience in the United States, was of men on the altar who assisted the priest and occasionally preached. I did not see the centrality of service, especially of the poor, in the deacons I encountered.

But an article by Deacon William Ditewig in U.S. Catholic helped open my eyes to the centrality of service.

Praying over this, I saw how the diaconate might be, for me, a confirmation, a sacramentalizing, of what I am already trying to do.

And so my heart was opened a little to a possible call to the diaconate.

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