The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“It’s something imprinted on your soul”

“It’s holy orders.  It’s something that’s imprinted on your soul; you die with it. It’s throwing your hat in to a basket when it comes around, or the collection plate, and there it goes. That’s your soul. It just left. When you give yourself up to ordination, you are a cleric and you’re part of the hierarchy.”

 — Deacon Forest Gray, of Salt Lake City, discussing the diaconate.
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Deacon Mike Talbot

posted November 5, 2009 at 8:14 am

Great news about the new deacons in Salt Lake City. When I read these news stories I’m always concerned about the writers description of the diaconate. Focus is always placed on the altar and as important as that is, that is far from the entire picture.
The Deacon is the minister of charity, of service. He should be found in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, soup kitchens, drug rehab centers, homeless shelters. When the Deacon stands on the altat his sign to the body of Christ is service sacramentalized. Everytime he stands on the altar he should be able to answer: my service is…
Also, Catholic news agencies should be careful to point out that Deacons are not a response to the Priest shortage or the personnel needs of a parish.
I love Deacon Gray’s quote because it truly is who we are, not what we do!

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Will Riley

posted November 5, 2009 at 8:58 am

A deacon also preaches like Sts. Stephen and Francis. There are different forms of poverty and the spiritual form may be the greatest type we face in the United States.

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Ruth Ann

posted November 5, 2009 at 9:13 am

I’ve heard the same thing about baptism and confirmation.

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Ettore Grillo

posted November 5, 2009 at 11:41 am

I don’t know what will happen after death. Maybe everything ends maybe not. Anyway a living being cannot set aside the spiritual quest of searching for God, the immortal soul or mind, life after death.
The book I have recently written may help in this direction and I want to draw it to your attention, as you may be interested. The title is “Travels Of The Mind” and it is available at
If you have any questions, I am most willing to offer my views on this topic.
Ettore Grillo

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Deacon Tom

posted November 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm

“However, he added, the deacon is at the bottom of the hierarchy.”
Not really accurate, not really a hierarchy. Our own Archbishop Carlson here in Saint Louis just refuted this very point a week or so ago at our “Deacon Day” event. We are each of us –Bishop, Priest and Deacon– called to our OWN ministry. A Deacon isn’t a “Priest-Light,” any more than a Priest is a “Bishop-Light.”

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posted November 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

RE: Deacon Tom’s comment:
I am just starting the Deacon formation process. I am not sure I am called to “my own” ministry. I thought I was to be part of the Church’s ministry. Am I expected to invent my own role as a Deacon? I have seen other posts on here discussing “leading social justice demonstrations.” If this is the type of thing Deacons are expected to do, I’m probably not the guy. I would be quite content to serve on the Altar, help with administrative tasks, and administer the Sacraments I would be allowed to administer, in the hospital, jail, parish church or wherever. Maybe I am not ambitious enough, but I am not feeling a call to re-invent the wheel here.

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Deacon Patrick

posted November 6, 2009 at 8:45 am

I do not know how helpful it is to focus on being “clergy”/hierarchy, they come more from canon law and can easily give a certain “clericalism” spin to the vocation. it might be more helpful to stick with the Gospels and to the rite of ordination itself to express the calling of a deacon. then the deeper configuration to Christ the servant is rooted in its Gospel core and the ecclesial dimension of the vocation is clearer.
november 5 was the memorial of Venerable Solanus Casey and his biographer gives a good description of the path all deacons must take if we wish to be true to our vocation as free servant to God and humankind:
“James Patrick Derum, his biographer, writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. “Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one’s fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man-free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity-free to serve wholly both God and man” (The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s, page 199).’

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posted November 7, 2009 at 11:02 am

The statement that deacons are at the lower level of the hiearchy comes from Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 29).

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