5/7/2023 Deacon's Corner
We hear in the 1st reading from Acts Chapter 6 how the early church was having a logistics problem. This occurred sometime within the first 5 years after Jesus ascended into heaven. At that time, all the disciples pooled their collective resources (food, property, wealth, talents) then distributed them to the entire group. But the church was growing so fast, the Apostles couldn’t keep up with daily distributions and many disciples were going without – especially the widows. So, the Apostles decided to recruit some help. They ordained
the first deacons of the church.
Acts 6:3-6 says they instructed the disciples to “select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word….so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.”
The role of the deacon has not changed much since those days. Deacons in the Early Church assisted Bishops in serving the poor, taking care of practical matters, assisted with the Eucharist, and prepared catechumens for Baptism. The Order of the Diaconate gradually declined after the 5th Century and was reestablished by Pope Paul VI during Vatican II. Today, we still report directly to the Bishop who assigns us to parishes to help the pastor and priests. As clerics, we are ordained by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders through the laying of hands by the Bishop.
The ministry of the deacon is service (diakonia) in three areas: Word, Liturgy, and Charity. The ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel at Mass, preaching, and teaching. The ministry of the Liturgy involves assisting at Mass, administering the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Matrimony, and presiding at our many Catholic liturgies. The ministry of Charity, the most important for a deacon, involves service to people in need especially the poor, sick, elderly, and imprisoned. The qualifications for a deacon are found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, as well as 5 years of theological study and formation. Currently, we have 98 active Permanent Deacons serving in the Diocese of Lansing, with 14 candidates in formation. One of these candidates is our own Ron Stacey. May we keep Ron in our prayers as he continues his formation.
I am grateful to have been called to serve as a Deacon, and I appreciate all of your prayers, support, and words of encouragement for my ministry.
May you have a Blessed 5th Week of Easter!