Who is a Deacon?

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Perhaps the best 'job description' for a Permanent Deacon is that in St. Paul's first letter to Timothy (3: 8 - 13).

The particular talents of each permanent deacon gained in his lay career are harnessed for the benefit of the Church.  Family and work obligations are fulfilled with the diaconal duties working in harmony.

A prospective Permanent Deacon must possess sufficient maturity to make a lifelong commitment.  Where a candidate is married it must be clear that his wife and family fully appreciate the part they will also play in his ministerial vocation.  They must be willing to cooperate freely in support of both his training and his subsequent ministry.  If a candidate is unmarried then he must be willing to freely undertake the canonical requirement of the celibate state, and be able to integrate it positively into his life of service to Christ and the Church. The Permanent Deacon's ministry includes a specific role of preaching and teaching, a degree of leadership in the organisation and oversight of specific activities, especially of charity in the Church, and in the liturgical role assigned to him by Canon Law

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Incardinated into the diocese, the Permanent Deacon is a full member of the diocesan, deanery and parish team of clergy, but, unlike the priest he is free to participate in approved commercial and political activity not only for the maintenance of his own family, but also in the interests of those he serves.  He can therefore provide a liaison between the interests of the clergy and the laity, and also express the official Church presence in the sphere of the secular world.  He is, however, to refrain from membership of associations unsuited to the clerical state. 


There is a national programme of ongoing formation for all deacons in Scotland which currently includes two residential weekends each year. This is seen as a priority and ordinarily deacons ought to be released from parish duties that weekend to allow them to attend. Wives and widows of deacons are invited to some of these events. In addition there will often be a local programme in the deacon’s own diocese.

Sacrifice of time and self is called for the Permanent Diaconate.  Jesus led by example when He washed the disciples' feet.  The joy of serving the community is what is offered in the Permanent Diaconate. "Whoever serves me, must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am" (John 12:26).