Your chosen officiant for your wedding is critical for your marriage to be considered valid. An ordained clergy often officiates Catholic weddings. But there are instances when an ordained deacon, another Catholic church leader, acts as the wedding officiant.
Can a deacon marry a couple, then? The simple answer is yes, Catholic deacons can officiate weddings. But they can only do so if they have permission from the bishop or priest to do so.
Many Catholic weddings today happen with Mass. However, since deacons lack the authority to conduct Mass, they need the incumbent’s consent to perform the marriage. Once the deacon receives permission to officiate the wedding, they must carry out the authorized services with no variation.
Deacons perform different roles in the Catholic church and only men are ordained as deacons on a transitional or permanent basis.
Continue reading below to learn more about deacons and what they can and cannot do.
Can Deacons Perform Catholic Weddings?
Yes, deacons can perform Catholic weddings as long as they received the authority to do so. Without such authority, the wedding ceremony itself and the marriage that follows will be deemed invalid.
The sacrament of marriage is considered fundamental in Catholic weddings. It serves as the agreement between the groom and the bride that forges the partnership among them. The clergy need to be present as witnesses to guarantee the validity of the contract of marriage.
All of the ordained clergy starting from the priest down to the deacon may act as the witness of the wedding ceremony itself. Many weddings often occur during Mass. But as stated earlier, deacons are not authorized to celebrate Mass. However, if the wedding ceremony is held as part of a Mass, the deacon may acquire the authority from the bishop or priest to serve as a witness to the wedding.
Weddings that take place outside Mass are often between a non-Christian and a Catholic, but it is rare for the rules to change when it comes to the wedding officiant.
Since ordained deacons are also regarded as Catholic church clergy, they are allowed to perform the traditions with permission from their bishop or priest. Among these traditions are the profession of faith, exchange of consent, the liturgy of the word, and saying the opening prayers, just to name a few.
If there is a priest present, deacons can also play a role in weddings. The priest can give the deacon the authority to carry out some of his roles such as blessings of the couple, blessings of the rings, and the pronouncement of blessings of the congregation after the service.
Different Roles of Deacons
Deacons can officiate Catholic weddings, and they also play other vital roles in a Catholic church. Here are the different roles of a deacon:
Assisting the Priest
Deacons assist the priest during Mass wherein they offer invocation of Penitential Rite, proclaim the gospel, receive gifts, and prepare the altars, among other duties. Deacons can also assist priests with their other responsibilities outside of Mass.
Distribution of the Holy Communion
The most popular practice of Catholic churches all over the world is none other than the holy communion. This is a fundamental aspect of the Catholic church as this is when the congregants accept the sacrament. Deacons can distribute the holy communion to the congregants with permission from the bishop or priest.
Baptisms are another crucial aspect of the Christian faith. This shows the commitment of Christians to living their lives according to the Christian teachings. A bishop or priest often performs baptisms at their church. Deacons can also perform baptism on their incumbent’s behalf.
Preaching the Homily
The homily is the sermon given following the Gospel of Mass. Deacons can also give the Homily, the commentary following a reading of the scripture. The bishop or priest often delegates this role to the deacon dependent on the circumstances. But this is a critical aspect of the service, this is something that still cannot be assigned to a layperson.
Presiding Over Funerals
Deacons can also preside over funeral services or funerals. However, this is something that they can only do outside of Mass. Since deacons are not allowed to preside over Mass in the Catholic church, they don’t have the authority to preside over the funerals that are held inside of Mass.
What Deacons Cannot Do
Deacons cannot do several activities no matter what the circumstances may be. Only bishops or priests can carry out the following activities and these cannot be assigned to deacons:
Anointing the Sick
Catholic faithful suffering from serious sickness and is nearing death often request a bishop or priest to visit them. The visit’s purpose is often to have the sacred anoint them before they succumb. Deacons are allowed to visit the sick, but they lack the authority of anointing the sick.
Confirmation refers to the sacrament wherein Catholics receive the Holy Spirit’s special outpouring. The Holy Spirit endows the Catholics with more ability to practice their Catholic faith in every aspect of their lives.
Bishops administer the conformation’s sacrament. Deacons are not allowed to administer the confirmation’s sacrament under any circumstance. It will be considered invalid if a deacon purports to do so.
Deacons are also not allowed to confer the Sacrament of Ordination, a holy order in which the men are ordained as deacons or priests. Only a bishop can carry out this sacrament where he lays his hands on the candidate.
Sacrament of Penance
In Sacrament of Penance, Catholic faithful get absolved from their committed sins after their baptism. Deacons can provide counseling services to church members but once the church members choose to have their sins confessed during the session of counseling, deacons should get a priest to perform it.
The Bottom Line
Deacons play a vital role in a Catholic church. Catholic weddings are spiritual ceremonies that join two persons before God into a contract with one another. Therefore, it is a must that a clergy witnesses or officiates this union. A bishop or priest officiates weddings in a Catholic church, but a deacon can only perform it if they have the authority to do so.