The Diocese of Scranton is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first class of permanent deacons ordained for the Diocese and the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of the diaconate in the United States. Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will be the principal celebrant of a Mass this Saturday, December 1, at 4 p.m. in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.
The diaconate had its origins in the time of the apostles and flourished during the first four centuries of the Church’s history. For various reasons this ministry went into decline. The Order of Deacon was re-established by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and, with the permission of the Holy See, the permanent diaconate was restored in the United States in 1968 and dioceses could choose to begin accepting men for formation and ordination. The Office for the Permanent Diaconate was established in the Diocese of Scranton in 1988 and the first class of 24 permanent deacons was ordained in 1993. Succeeding classes were ordained in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2017. To date, 92 deacons have been ordained by the Diocese. Currently, there are 73 deacons actively serving in the Diocese, including some who were ordained by other dioceses and now reside here.
Permanent deacons are members of the three-fold ordained ministry that consists of bishops, priests and deacons.
The deacon’s service has three aspects: word, worship and charity. A permanent deacon is not a stand-in for a priest, but he can perform certain ministerial functions such as administering baptism; serving as the deacon at the Mass, including proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the homily and distributing Holy Communion; bringing viaticum to the sick; presiding at wake services, funeral liturgies and burial rites; and with permission by the pastor, may celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony.
He ministers to the needs of families, single parents, students, the aged and infirmed, the imprisoned, and those who suffer from poverty or addictions.
Every applicant for the permanent diaconate must first be nominated by his pastor. Men who believe that the Lord may be calling them to the diaconate must be baptized, practicing Catholics, who are at least 31 years of age and no more than 60 at the time of application. They may be married or single. If married, they must be in a valid, stable marriage for at least five years. If single, they are expected to remain celibate.
Permanent deacons complete a five-year formation program. Eighteen men are currently in formation.
CTV: Catholic Television will broadcast the Mass live.