The Gift of the Deaconate – What do Deacons do?

Decrease font size
Increase font size
Print this page
Email to friend
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Home > Media > News > The Gift of the Deaconate – What do Deacons do?
The Gift of the Deaconate – What do Deacons do?

By Deacon Nick MacFarlane

Deacons do many things.  In the Church, deacons are normal ministers of Holy Communion and of the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage.  Deacons may be chaplains in schools, hospitals or prisons or in the military or police forces.  Deacons are pastoral carers in hospitals or nursing homes. Some are teachers or academics. They may work in pastoral roles in family welfare, in marriage tribunals or marriage enrichment programs or with youth or migrants. Most Australian deacons are not paid for their Church work, so they may also work in secular trades or professions.

All deacons, as ministers of the Church, are ordained to empower and encourage the laypeople to take up their role of being missionary disciples - to help people grow closer to the Lord Jesus and to help them to draw others to Him.

The deacon's ministry has three facets: ministry of the Word (teaching and preaching), liturgical ministry (assisting at and sometimes presiding at liturgies, sacraments and sacramentals), and pastoral ministry.

When a deacon is present, he normally proclaims the Gospel at Mass because he is ordained to be a Herald of the Gospel, His ministry of the Word also includes preaching at Mass, or at funerals, weddings and baptisms.  Deacons may also be teaching and forming people in faith formation programs, the RCIA, sacramental programs or preparing couples for marriage.  A deacon may be the animator or 'chaplain' of groups like the Legion of Mary or the 'menALIVE' ministry to men.

Deacons have a specific liturgical role in the Mass and they can preside over other liturgies, such as the Liturgy of the Hours and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.  They are normal minsters of Holy Communion to the sick.

Priests, deacons and lay people all have complementary roles in the life of the Church and in its mission in the world. The restoration of the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Church is one of the ways the Holy Spirit is renewing the Church in our time.

Next month: A look into the history of the restoration of the diaconate.

Image: Deacon Nick MacFarlane (right) baptising his grandson Simon, with daughter in-law Martina MacFarlane at Christ the Priest Church, Kingston in 2008.