The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Ask the deacon

The following item appeared in my parish bulletin last weekend. It got a lot of reaction, so I thought I’d post it here. Enjoy.

This weekend marks my five-month anniversary as an ordained member of the Catholic clergy.

Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?

As the parish’s only deacon, and something of a novelty here, I tend to get asked the same questions a lot. So, I thought I’d take a moment and just give you the answers right here.

1. Yes, as a matter of fact, I’m married. This leaves some people feeling like Inspector Raynaud in “Casablanca”: shocked, simply shocked. The fact is, deacons are permitted to be married. We have jobs, houses, mortgages, children, and dogs. But I’m not a priest. Which brings me to answer the second most popular question…


2. No, I don’t live in the rectory. It only seems that way. One parishioner said that she sees me and my wife around the church so much, she thought we’d moved in. (I think she was concerned that my wife was having to cook and clean for the priests…) We have an apartment a few blocks from the church. That’s why you sometimes see me walking to church on weekends – or, more likely, sprinting, because I’m late. Once in a while, a parishioner has stopped me on the way to church to ask me the third most popular question, and I always say…

3. No, I don’t do confession. I’m happy to hear it, but you might as well tell your sins to your doorman. I can’t give absolution. I can perform baptisms, weddings and offer blessings for everything from rosaries to Rolls Royces. I also preside at wakes and at Benediction, and I preach homilies. But that’s about it. Frankly, with my schedule, that’s enough.


4. I appreciate your concern, but the priests really don’t seem to mind sharing the pulpit. I’ve gotten the impression from some parishioners that they think I’m a homily hog. That is: I get up to read the gospel, and then refuse to leave. It doesn’t quite work that way. Like the priests, I’m scheduled for masses, and scheduled to preach homilies at certain times. Depending on the circumstances, I’ll sometimes be asked to do more than one mass on a weekend. But the guy who does the scheduling – Fr. Passenant – usually rotates me around with different priests and different masses. So, just like the priests, when you see me and hear me will vary from week to week.

5. That’s very nice of you, but I’m not “Father.” I’ll answer to anything. Just ask my wife. But “Deacon Greg” seems to have a nice ring to it. Just plain “Deacon” will do, or “Hey, Greg, watch out for that falling piano!” Like I said, I’ll answer to anything. But deacons aren’t called “Father.”


6. Nothing. That would be the answer to the inevitable question about my salary. Deacons aren’t paid, unless they have full time jobs working for the diocese.

7. Five years. This actually answers two questions: 1) how long did you have to take classes before you were ordained?, and 2) how long are you going to be here at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs? My class of deacons is the first to be assigned, like the priests, to serve at particular parishes. Most of us are serving at our home parish (provided it doesn’t already have a deacon). But as more deacons are ordained – a class of about 30 will be joining us in 2009 – we’re going to be spread around, to serve where the bishop needs us. My initial assignment is for five years, but could be lengthened, or shortened, depending on the needs of the diocese and how long it takes before I start to get on the pastor’s nerves.

8. 48. My age. In other words, I’m an old dog, and this is all a very new trick. So far, I haven’t set my vestments on fire during Benediction, or drowned a baby during baptism. With a little luck, and a little grace, I just might get the hang of this deacon thing.

Comments read comments(7)
post a comment
Dev Thakur

posted October 26, 2007 at 8:10 am

I like this post! Entertaining.By the way, deacons are called “Father (Deacon)” in the Eastern Tradition.

report abuse


posted October 26, 2007 at 10:16 am

I didn’t realize that most Deacons were not paid. That’s only makes your gift of great time and love even more extraordinary! Thank you for all you do, from the pulpit to the blog (I love your blog).Kia

report abuse

Just another mad Catholic

posted October 26, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Deacon Greg ROCKS!!!!!!!!

report abuse

Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted October 26, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Greg –two points–deacons can also preside at a funeral (without a Mass) and at graveside. Also, a pastor may agree to a stipend being given to pay for things like gas, books, vestments, etc. or even full pay for other than diaconal duties (Faith Formation (Sunday School) co-ordinator or some sort of administrative position)–these do not have to come by way of the diocese, but of course, are on the financial records of the parish for diocesan inspection. Since most deacons retire from their regular jobs at 60-65 but deacons have no real retirement date (they become Senior Deacons at 75) more and more older deacons are being paid a little something for their services because retirement benefits in so many areas are being cut or done away with. Although when a deacon is ordained it is understood the usual and basic pay is $0. Also, with the shortage of priests and there being so many duties the deacon can carry out by virtue of his ordination, there is some talk of hiring more younger deacons full-time on the parish level with salaries similar to what married Protestant ministers make.

report abuse

Deacon Volker

posted October 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Thanks again Deacon Greg for yet another great post. Sure sounds to me like your parishioners and your pastor has a great guy to work with!Someone already mentioned it but we can add presiding at funeral liturgies to our check-off sheets. I just came back to work a few hours ago after presiding at my first “solo” funeral. Now it’s back to the “real world” though that line is becoming a bit less distinct since our Ordination! I love this job!

report abuse

Deacon Ron

posted October 29, 2007 at 10:48 am

Greg,Having been ordained for only a year or so I can identify with the questions you have answered. I really enjoy your site.God Bless you,Deacon Ron

report abuse


posted December 22, 2008 at 11:32 am

I need help. My boyfriend, who I thought I would marry, has been in the process of applying for acceptance into the Diaconate. He somehow did not know that widowed deacons could not remarry. Now our relationship is over. I can’t believe God would want us to leave people we love. I don’t understand the rule. I’m thinking of leaving the Church. I’m shattered. Please. I will listen to any advice.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.