The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Here come L.A.’s “deacon couples”

posted by jmcgee

Continuing its tradition, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has announced the new “deacon couples” who will be serving parishes upon the ordination of the new deacons this weekend:

Cardinal Roger Mahony will ordain 14 men to the Sacred Order of Deacon on June 12 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Those to be ordained and their wives — known as the John 23rd formation class — have undergone a five-year period of formation in preparation for the ministry. They will be assigned to their home parishes.

A deacon is an ordained minister who takes the spirit and message of Jesus to the marketplace. He has been called to serve others, especially the poor – reaching out to the sick, those in prison, the homeless. A deacon proclaims the Gospel, preaches and conducts baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Deacons’ wives, though not ordained, become an integral part of the diaconate community by participating in the formation program and being active members of the deacon community of the archdiocese, working with their husbands or in their own ministries.

Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), notes that deacons, strengthened by sacramental grace, “are dedicated to the people of God, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterate, in the service of the liturgy, of the word and of charity…. Dedicated to works of charity and functions of administration, deacons should recall the admonition of St. Polycarp: ‘Let them be merciful, and zealous, and let them walk according to the truth for the Lord, who became the servant of all'” (n. 29).

There are biographies of the couples and more information at the link.

Meantime, congratulations and blessings to the men and their wives!



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Rellis

posted June 10, 2010 at 11:40 pm


Are you freaking kidding me?
The ancient order of diaconate was not restored by the Council merely to let pants suit-wearing wives on the altar.
It’s a disgrace and a cheapening of deacons to think of them this way. They can be married, yes. But that doesn’t make them a “couple.”
What a joke. I’m so glad Mahoney is on his way out. Make room for the orthodox future.
It’s crap like this that causes traddies to my right to want to suppress the permanent diaconate.



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oldestof9

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:08 am


…conducts baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Hatch, Match, and Dispatch.



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Rellis

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:48 am


Let me say this in a more productive way:
The last people who should want to see this “wife ordaining” (by all appearances) are…permanent deacons!
Why?
Well, the several million hardcore rightwing Catholics (you know, the ones having all the kids) are already highly-suspect of the permanent diaconate. I am not, and there is no conflict at all between traditional liturgy and permanent deacons.
But this needlessly creates tension, and for no good end.



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F C Bauerschmidt

posted June 11, 2010 at 9:19 am


I don’t think I would put it quite the way that Rellis did, but I also am not fond of the “deacon couple” idea. My wife supports my ministry by supporting me, not by being a partner in my ministry (and, if she had been expected to be such a partner, I probably would never have been ordained). It also makes it sound as if the really, really important thing about deacons is that we’re married, rather than our being icons of Christ the servant. The whole thing is just a bad, bad idea.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 11, 2010 at 9:58 am


As the wife of a deacon, I really dislike the term “deacon couple”. I support my husband in his ministry, and it involves a sacrifice on my part. But I was not ordained. Frankly, I find the designation of deacon couple to be patronizing to me as a woman.



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dymphna

posted June 11, 2010 at 10:29 am


“their own ministries” that makes me very nervous. Nobody has a ministry except the priest. Everyone else is either volunteering or busybodying. Deacon couples sounds dangerously like the pastor and his wife. I really don’t want this in my parish.
[Dymphna…I know a few deacons, DREs and pastoral care workers who might take issue with your statement that “nobody has a ministry except the priest.” Dcn.G.]



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Aquamarine

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:28 am


Just a head’s up to the terminally behind-the-times: the term “pants-suit” was retired about 25 years ago. Just an FYI. Using it makes people sound silly and ridiculous and scared and bigoted. Just sayin’.
The number of Catholic men who will use any opportunity they can find to put down women and make them something less or other is probably the main reason I cannot in good conscience serve God by being Catholic. God doesn’t hate women, and he doesn’t relegate them to a drudgery-based, limited number of options for their lives.
That term, “pants-suited” is just Catholic misogynist code, and it’s getting really offensive and old and, frankly, really damned obvious.



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Romulus

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:39 am


That term, “pants-suited” is just Catholic misogynist code
Is that how you read it? I saw it as a swipe at the notion of honoring women by treating them as men. Patronizing and insulting to their own womanly dignity. Not to mention an institutional clericalism that insults all lay people of both sexes. L.A. is a seriously messed-up diocese.



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cathyf

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm


Rellis, as someone in the millions to the left of you, I agree. One of the things that I really value about our “traddies”, as opposed to orthodox Jews and very conservative protestants, is that they are just as totally on board as the rest of us with the pretty much universal Catholic presumption that an all-male clergy means that men minister to women. This is certainly not so in a lot of places outside of Catholicism. Where the female faithful are more or less abandoned to the rabbi’s wife, or the pastor’s wife, etc., who may or may not have any calling to this vocation which isn’t a proper vocation at all.
One of the things that orthodox Jews and conservative protestants find scandalous about us Catholics in the Sacrament of Confession is the notion of a woman having a private conversation with a man not her husband, father or brother.
What I see is that, quite ironic given who lines up where in arguing about admitting women to the priesthood, the fact of an all-male and celibate priesthood has the effect of making it impossible for a sacramental church such as we are to devolve into the gender apartheid so common everywhere else.
Rellis, I am pretty left-wing by your standards, but I’m just as “highly suspect” of any notions that ordination of a husband grants some pseudo-ordination to the wife. Yes, in real life, deacons’ wives are often important ministers in their parishes and dioceses (our deacon’s wife is the president of the Altar and Rosary Society, and there is always some tension when we have to do a funeral luncheon when she is out of town!) but that is because of her own talents, her own call to vocation or avocation within the Church, not because she is some dependency of her husband’s orders.



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dave

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Wow, I’m amazed at the vitriol exhibited in some of these comments! I am a candidate for the Diaconate and have been married to the same woman for 48 yrs now. Not always “happy” but as holy as two sinners can make it. When we were asked to consider the Diaconate the very first thought was that one would be ordained and the other given a rose–“thank you very much, Mrs Dave, here’s your flowers”. We, however, through much discussion have accepted the apparent one-sidedness of the Catholic clerical conundrum and have recognized that it is in how we live the Gospel as a COUPLE that counts, not who wears the cloth or preaches to the congregation. WE, my wife AND I, come as a package, and intend to serve as one. The Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony is no different than the Grace of the Sacrament of Orders, and since the two of us became one that day in 1962 we pray daily for that Grace to sustain and strengthen our belief that, God willing, we stand before him bruised and battered by life, but joyful in having been able to serve him together.
By the way, she still looks terrific in “pants”.



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Conservative

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm


Dave wrote: WE, my wife AND I, come as a package, and intend to serve as one.
With all due respect, I think this is a rather sketchy concept of the diaconate which I think needs to be clarified before your ordination. I would hope you would run this concept by the director of your formation.
YOU will be ordained to diaconal ministry, not your wife.



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Viator Catholicus

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm


I’m happy to hear the deacons and some of their wives chime in.
I am wary and weary of efforts which seem to lack doctrinal basis but instead superficially seek to make people “feel good” and “included.” Some bishops and priests establish initiatives that are not well rooted in doctrine because they perceive (falsely) that doctrine and discipline are “leaving people out.” Instead the should teach the holiness and peacefulness of order within the Body of Christ. For example, this is a problem we see in parishes with the clericalization of the laity in the liturgy. (And to Dymphna’s point outside the liturgy by extending the notion of “ministry” to the non-ordained. There was a document about the precision in use of the term about 10 years ago). As to the liturgy, for example, sometimes an ordinary minister of Holy Communion is a surprise visitor, but an extraordinary minister was “assigned” so the ordinary ministry is told to sit back and not exercise the ordinary ministry.
It’s like a nurse not yielding to a doctor in treating a patient. I mention this example because I’ve seen cases where a deacon and his wife distribute Holy Communion while a visiting priest sits back so the deacon’s wife won’t feel left out. This is ecclesial “disorder.” It has no canonical sanction, and since lex orandi statuit legem credendi, it is a bad teaching moment for the congregation. St. Paul railed similar things!
That said, theological work has to be done on how holy orders affects the marital bond and the ordained’s wife. Perhaps- and here I worry I may tread on thin ice, – it can be argued that the subsequently received character of ordination somehow touches the wife in some way. Such a theological investigation might clarify why in the Catholic Church (both in the East and West) married man can be ordained permanent deacons, and even, priests and then exercise ministry; but also why those already deacons and priests cannot get married or remarry after a wife dies. Canon law acknowledges orders as an impediment to marriage. The possible affect of ordination on a wife might provide a doctrinal foundation for understanding this rule.
But, until this is clarified, the Mahoneyan initiatives should be treated with caution.
[Very interesting points, VC. Thank you. Dcn. G.]



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Viator Catholicus

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:38 pm


Dave, God bless you and your wife for your wonderful example as husband and wife, but you may want to reconsider pursuing the diaconate until you get your theology straight. Even the Baltimore catechism, which I’m sure you studied all those years ago, makes it clear that it is heresy to hold that “The Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony is no different than the Grace of the Sacrament of Orders.”
The grace of diaconate come with an indeliable character that can never be washed away. It conforms you to Christ the servant. Diaconal grace is for you to sanctify yourself, but also the members of the Church.
Matrimony is a sacrament of service but no special character is given. Marital graces are especially to sanctify you and your wife, and by extension your family and then the Church. Marital graces will surely help you be a good husband while a deacon, but they graces of the sacraments are different.
The difference is seen in another way in that if a spouse dies the other can remarry and receive the sacrament of marriage again. But, once a deacon, forever a deacon.



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Conservative

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm


The more I re-read the post by Dave on his diaconal calling in relation to his wife and marriage, the more disturbing I find it.
I really think you have to rethink it Dave.



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dave

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm


Conservative wrote:
YOU will be ordained to diaconal ministry, not your wife.
Yes I will, God willing, but ordination to the Permanent Diaconate does not nullify or diminish our first call within marriage to reflect Gods love for the people of God in how we love each other. The call of the Diaconate is to serve…and to call others to service. It does not mean that my wife has to stay at home while I tend to food lines or serve in the pantry or visit the sick. The gifts of the Spirit are many and for all open to them, not just for an ordained few.
Lest you worry too much, our Director is in full agreement.



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dave

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:45 pm


Heresy….? I think my mother and sister used that word right after Vatican II when I agreed that the church needed some “fresh air”. I have not run into anyone quite as arrogant as she since….
I thought then as I do know, that God must be laughing at us as we struggle to put our feeble minds around his love and mercy as we try do do his work “just right”, and have all of the proper t’s crossed and i’s dotted.
St Francis truly said it best, use words only if you have to.
blessings.



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Conservative

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm


No one said your wife had to stay home. If she assists in food pantries etc. fine! You will be ordained to serve the church in sacramental ways–witnessing marriages, baptizing, preaching etc. Your wife is not part of that ministry other than supporting you in it.



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cathyf

posted June 11, 2010 at 4:50 pm


“…extending the notion of “ministry” to the non-ordained. There was a document about the precision in use of the term about 10 years ago”

Which was an eye-rolling embarrassment. “Minister” and “ministry” are English words which have well-established meanings in English. One set of meanings has to do with departments of the executive branch of a government — in the United States a “cabinet secretary” is an equivalent function to “minister” in a lot of the rest of the English-speaking world, while a “department” is equivalent to a “ministry”. In English-speaking Christian churches, a “minister” is a extremely broad general term which applies to both ordained and non-ordained toilers in the vineyards. When I describe the pastor of the Presbyterian church, the youth minister at the Catholic parish, the prioress at the Benedictine monastery up the road and my bishop as all being members of the generic set “ministers” it’s because I am polite enough to be intentionally vague about the fact that, from my Catholic point of view, the Presbyterian minister is a lay minister who is no more validly ordained than the youth minister or the prioress.
The spectacle of a bunch of non-native-English speakers lecturing native-English speakers about some subtle shading of English usage is pretty surreal. Maybe for their next foray into the Linguistic Lecture Series they can give us a lecture on The Proper Procedures For Teaching Your Grandmother To Suck Eggs. If they do their research very very well, they will figure out that they’re already done.



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Romulus

posted June 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm


CathyF: “Minister” is a Latin word, whose ecclesiastical usage was solidly established before there was such a thing as the English language.



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Romulus

posted June 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm


Dave, if you were married to a baptised non-Catholic, in what sense would your wife participate in the graces of your Confirmation?
Don’t get emotional when people point out serious questions that need to be dealt with. And please don’t skate past them with appeals to God’s love and mercy.



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Conservative

posted June 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm


The term “ministry” is now often used in a very broad sense. In the case of priests and deacons, it takes on a much more prescise meaning–the grace of ordination mandates the ordained to minister in word and sacrament. The sacramental grace of Holy Orders is bestowed on the one ordained not to anyone else–wives included. While they are certainly expected to be supportive of their husbands in the case of deacons, they are not “co-ordained” with their deacon husbands.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted June 11, 2010 at 7:12 pm


I read the Tidings story, but did not see the “deacon couples” quote. Where did it come from or where is it being used?? I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from Cardinal Mahoney who many consider the “moonbat” of the hierarchy.
I am one of those deacons whose wife gives me 100% support, but is too busy enjoying being a mother (and now grandmother) to become some sort of “deaconess” by marriage.
[John…the article refers to them as “deacon couples” and, rather than spotlighting the men being ordained, profiles the men and their wives jointly. One of the men being ordained, however, is not a “couple,” and is single. Dcn. G.]



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cathyf

posted June 12, 2010 at 12:29 am


I hope, Romulus, that you don’t make a general habit of using transliterations as if they are translations, double-entendre’s as if they were single, or generally speak as if ignoring the meanings that everyone else uses allow you to magically change what words mean. Human languages are rife with examples of arrangements of syllables or turns of phrases which are innocuous and prosaic in one language or dialect, and obscene, offensive, unintentionally funny or just plain confusing in another.
Communicating is something that you do with at least one other person. Or, to use a term that once had a quite precise meaning quite different from its quite precise meaning today, intercourse. Making up your own personal definitions of words and then pretending that when other people use those words they mean what you are pretending that those words mean is childish, obnoxious and stupid — unless it’s a symptom of schizophrenia, of course.
Or illegal. If you were to short 1200 bushels of corn on the CBOT, and then attempted to deliver the grain which was “solidly established” to be “corn” before English existed, you would pretty quickly find yourself facing legal actions!
(Once when I was at a work conference in London my wicked funny American boss would cheerfully announce that he was “off to incinerate a homosexual” each time he would go out for a smoking break.)



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