The Catholic Church has two types of deacons, namely the transitional deacons and permanent deacons. Men are the only ones allowed to be deacons. This is an ordained position, and this is why the Catholic Church only ordains men.
But can a deacon ever get married?
The permanent deacons are those who have been ordained to the Catholic Church and don’t have any intentions to become a priest. A deacon may be single or married. But if the deacon is not married at the time he is married, he can no longer marry after, and it is expected that he will live a celibate life.
If the wife of a deacon passes away before he does, he is no longer allowed to marry again. A deacon who is already divorced should request an annulment from the Catholic church before he is allowed to be ordained.
The transitional deacons, on the other hand, are the seminary students who are still in the process of becoming officially ordained priests. The bishop ordains them as priests after they serve for a year as deacons.
Continue reading below to know more about deacons.
Who is a Deacon?
Deacons are obtained ministers of the Catholic Church. The Church has three orders or groups of ordained ministers, namely the deacons, presbyters, and bishops.
Deacons get ordained as the sacramental sign to the world of Christ and the Church. Christ called the entire Church to serve, and in virtue of a deacon’s sacramental ordination and also through his different ministries, he is expected to become a servant in the servant-Church.
What are the Roles of a Deacon?
Transitional and permanent deacons alike have the same duties and responsibilities in the church. They serve as the assistants of the priests with their duties in the parish. Deacons visit the sick, provide spiritual guidance among the community, and act as God’s servant.
Aside from these deacons can also perform baptisms, witness marriages, preach the homily, distribute the Holy Communion, and preside over burial and funeral services outside of Mass.
It is also expected for deacons to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. These refer to the 150 Scriptural readings and Psalms from the New and Old Testament that all clerics are expected to pray every day. The deacons have secular jobs so they can provide for their families and themselves.
How Do You Become a Catholic Deacon?
A deacon must meet several requirements. Deacons must be 35 years old and above and must also be baptized practicing Roman Catholic Church members. If a deacon has been baptized as an adult, he must be a member of the church for a minimum of 5 years before being ordained.
Deacons should meet specific marriage requirements. They have to make sure that the marriage is recognized by the Church if they are already married. Deacons must also file for an annulment if they are already divorced. Deacons are not allowed to remarry. Widowed or single deacons are also expected to lead a celibate. Transitional deacons are obviously not allowed to get married because they are in the process of becoming priests.
Deacons also need to satisfy certain educational requirements. Aspirants must have earned a GED or high school diploma. Deacons must also be in great health and should be able to allot time for the formation program, which is the 5-year course of study for all potential deacons.
A deacon must also talk about his decision with his family, his priest, and most importantly, with God. Deacons must pray to seek guidance to be sure that the path is sanctioned. They also need to discuss with their families their desire of being part of the diaconate.
Married deacons must receive their wife’s consent to proceed with the process. Discussing the decision with a priest can help deacons decide whether or not the life of a cleric is the best choice for them.
After an aspiring deacon meets all these requirements, his application is now ready for submission to the diocesan diaconate office with the help of his priest. It is the priest who sends a recommendation letter that confirms the applicant’s exemplary Church standing.
The process of application involves intensive screening. Aspiring deacons should prepare themselves to undergo a few rounds of interviews. For married deacons, their wives will be interviewed as well together with the couple’s children, if there are any, who are still living with them at home.
It is also required for deacons to submit their application for the canonical dispensations for any misconduct in the past and agree to undergo a psychological evaluation.
A deacon also needs to submit a pile of paperwork together with their necessary applications. A candidate for the diaconate must compile the following documents:
- Certificate of baptism
- Proof of age
- Confirmation of marriage when applicable
- A recent photo of themselves
- A recent photo of their wife if applicable
- Letters of recommendation that includes one from the present employer
- A letter of consent from their wife if applicable
- Academic transcript
- Recent medical records
- Proof of legal residency
- Background check
- A report from the rector where the applicant spent his time in formation
After the aspiring deacon has submitted all of these required documents, these will be reviewed by the diocesan diaconate committee before they reach a decision. Once the committee deems that the applicant is ready, the bishop will now make his final decision.
As expected, this entire process is only applicable to the permanent deacons. Attending seminary is how transitional deacons can fulfill most of the said obligations. Those who want to become a cleric can improve and hone their understanding of discipleship and doctrine through the different theology courses.
Can Married Men Become Ordained Deacons?
The Second Vatican Council has decreed that the diaconate can be opened to mature married men when this was restored as part of the hierarchy’s permanent order. This was later clarified to refer to men who are over 35 years old.
It is in line with the Church’s ancient tradition wherein married men were ordained to the ministry. Keeping up with the ancient practice also involves the expectation that although married men are allowed to be ordained, ordained men, if their wife passes away, are not allowed to remarry with no special permission.