Welcome from Bishops
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.
Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."
Welcome to the Permanent Diaconate in Australia.
The diaconate fulfills a key role in the ministry of the Church and is an essential part of its structure. The ministry of deacons was restored as a permanent order within the Catholic Church, following the Second Vatican Council, as a ministry of humble service in the midst of the deacon’s threefold ministry of word, liturgy and charity.
Deacons, in today’s Church, are ordained for that threefold ministry and so proclaim the gospel, preach, and direct the Church’s prayer; they baptise, assist at and bless marriages, give Viaticum to the dying and lead the funeral rites.
By virtue of their ministry deacons help the local bishop to embody the Church's call to service. They are signs of Jesus who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ (Mt. 20, 28).
There is a rich diversity, and variety, of various models of diaconate in the Australian Church, which points to a dynamism and richness of ministry. To me, this is what is so attractive about the Permanent Diaconate.
For forty years now, Deacons across Australia have been “working out” what the ministry of the Deacon really is. And, in the light of this lived experience, there seems to be a better appreciation of the richness of the ministry.
Whilst I have the highest regard for the ministry of the Deacon, I venture to say that the wives of our married deacons have had a large part to play in the appreciation of the lived experience.
As priests, religious and deacons we are present to people in quite extraordinary ways. We offer a ministry of presence to people, sharing their joys and sorrows, being a listening ear, a sympathetic shoulder, a support when things go wrong.
And so, our vocation as religious, priests or deacons calls us to see God’s goodness in everything and everyone. We are called to position ourselves in the presence of our sisters and brothers and serve them with a word that will bring life.
I want to suggest that our Permanent Deacons make God’s love present to many, many people through their witness and the variety of their ministries. They spend themselves personally and professionally for others, and they have shared “the joys and the hopes, the grief and the anxieties of the people of this age” (Gaudium et Spes).
Our ministry must be solidly placed – carrying Jesus to a wildly welcoming people, gently, quietly, effectively.
I hope your visit to our Deacons’ pages, on our Clergy Life and Ministry Website, will help you understand something more of this important and valuable ministry.
Bishop Michael J Malone
Chairman – Bishops Commission for Church Ministry
10 May 2010