March 28, 2012
Amarillo—The Diaconate Office of the Diocese of Amarillo is pleased to announce that Bishop Patrick J. Zurek and the Presbyteral Council have authorized the initiation of the next Deacon Class of 2016. The first class will begin in August 2012. If interested please contact your Pastor. All potential applicants will have to be recommended and sponsored by the Pastor of the parish in which they attend.
A deacon is a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to help our Church to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. Deacons have their origin in the New Testament and in particular the books of the Acts of the Apostles and Timothy. Deacons are ordained clergy belonging to one of the three orders of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which are deacon (permanent and transitional), priest and bishop. They receive this sacrament when the bishop imposes hands on them at their ordination as they make a promise of obedience to their bishop. As the needs of the dioceses dictate, the bishop assigns deacons where they are so needed.
The deacon has a threefold ministry of the Word, the Altar and of Charity:
(1) In the “Ministry of the Word” deacons engage in evangelism and the teaching mission of the Church. The ministry takes place both inside the parish walls and outside in the world.
(2) In the “Ministry of the Altar” the deacon assists the priest at Mass particularly by proclaiming the Gospel, leading the Intercessions, preparing the altar and ministering the chalice to the people at communion. Outside of Mass deacons can preside at Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, Morning and Evening Prayer, Benediction and give special blessings on varied occasions.
(3) Deacons are most visible in the parish, exercising their “alb ministry”, as they assist the priest at Mass. However, their primary responsibility is the “Ministry of Charity”. The deacon cares for the poor and forgotten. He is a minister of peace and justice in the community. “Deacon” means “servant”, thus he is considered an “icon of Christ”, who came not to be served, but to serve.
Most deacons are married, have secular occupations and minister outside work hours. They give witness to the spirituality of a married person who works in the world. The wives go through formation with their husbands and many become involved in lay ministry, either in conjunction with their husbands or in their own capacity. They are a dynamic gift to their parish. Newly ordained deacons usually begin their ministry in the parish where they live. Because of their promise of obedience to the Bishop, they may be transferred, like any clergyman, to meet the needs of the diocese. Deacons normally do not receive any financial remuneration for their ministry.
There are a number of requirements for admission into the next deacon formation program: The aspirant must be a male, at least 31 years of age, he have a high school diploma or a GED, if married have a stable marriage of at least three years, must be able to demonstrate significant ministerial service, a Roman Catholic with a mature spiritual and prayer life, have a working knowledge of English, if English speaking willing to learn Spanish, open to people of other cultures, gainfully employed, no impediments to ordination, a documented resident, must pass a criminal history, must be psychologically sound and in good health and have full support of the Pastor, et al.
The formation program requires a significant time commitment of 64 hours or more per month. In addition the wife must be in full support of her husband, and she must attend the formation classes. The formation process lasts 4½ years with an expected ordination date in December 2016. Each year is comprised of no less than 11 weekends, one weekend per month, which includes emphasis in academics, pastoral, human and spiritual development, plus prayer/study group meetings, parish and charity ministry. It is a major commitment!
Deacon Blaine Westlake is Director of the Diaconate Program for the Diocese of Amarillo.