Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate

Congratulations to Martin Barlow, who was Ordained as a Permanent Deacon for service in our Archdiocese. Photos can be found in the Photo Gallery. The Role of a Permanent Deacon is outlined below. 




Sunday 29 September is a historic day for the Church in the Archdiocese of Armagh.  It will see five men being ordained for service as deacons.  The Acts of the Apostles describes how, in the 1st century, the Church was faced with the challenge of ministering to the needs of the marginalised.  Remembering the example of Jesus, the apostles selected and ordained a number of deacons for this service. 


For a number of centuries deacons assisted at the Eucharist, preached the Gospel and exercised a service of charity.  St Francis of Assisi is probably the best known deacon though many tend to assume that he was a priest.


Gradually the functions of deacons were absorbed into the ministry of the priests, and the diaconate became a transitional order or the way to priesthood.


The Second Vatican Council changed all that.  It authorised the restoration of the diaconate as a distinct and permanent ministry of service to be carried out in communion with the bishop and priests. 


Many functions carried out by deacons can also be done by lay people.  The restoration of the diaconate is not intended to change that situation in any way.


On Sunday 29th we will thank God for Martin, David, Andrew, Benignus and John and for their wives and families who have helped and supported them on their journey here today.  We congratulate them all most warmly and ask Christ, the Good Shepherd, to bless them abundantly.  May their faithful service contribute handsomely to the up-building of God’s Kingdom and the glory of His name.


The first responsibility of the Permanent Deacon is to be an effective visible sign of Christ who came to serve rather than to be served.  Although most of these men will exercise their ministry on a part-time basis, they remain at all times a deacon, and they are called in their life-style, to reflect this. The ministry of the deacon is an expression of his being an icon of Christ the servant. The normal areas of ministry which may be entrusted to deacons could be categorised under the general headings: Liturgical Functions, Pastoral and Faith Development. These include:



·         Proclaiming the Gospel at Mass

·         Preaching the homily

·         Assisting the priest at Mass (Sign of Peace and Dismissal)

·         Leading communion services, when need arises

·         Bringing the Eucharist to the sick at home and in hospitals (nursing homes)

·         Presiding at Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

·         The celebration of Baptism

·         Celebrating Marriages

·         Presiding at Funerals - (also removals, reception of remains, burials)



            Faith Development

·         Participation in sacramental preparation programmes

·         Formation of Ministers of the Eucharist

·         Formation of Ministers of the Word

·         Formation of Altar Servers

·         Facilitating study of, and prayer with, the Scriptures

·         Facilitating the development of lay ministry

·         Chaplaincy to various parish groups

·         School chaplaincy



·         Visiting the sick

·         Visiting prisoners

·         Visiting the bereaved

·         Youth Ministry

·         Working  with the poor and the homeless

·         Promoting awareness of the social teaching of the Church

·         Promotion of justice and human rights

A Permanent Deacon receives his mission from the Archbishop, and is assigned to work as a member of a team under the leadership of the Parish Priest. He is called to minister in close-collaboration with priests and with laity who are entrusted with various ministries. Deacons play a key role in the development and coordination of lay ministry, they are not intended to replace lay ministries.  These men have been reminded that in a parish they find their role by negotiation, supporting what already exists and helping to address needs that aren't being met.