On the 21st of February 2012, a Diocesan Clergy meeting was held at “Mayfield”, the residence of bishop Dabula Anthony Mpako. Amongst the various topics, sufficient time was given to speak about the deacons, their wishes, their problems and their place within the Diocese.
Since quite some time, there was amongst the deacons a certain feeling of uneasiness regarding their place, status and tasks within the framework of the territory where they have to work.
Some deacons felt themselves as a kind of “glorified Altar Boys” who have to jump in, preferentially there, where the task seemed a little bit to heavy or to harsh for the priest-n-charge…
During such kind of meetings, it is always good to go back to the principles and once again it was made clear that a deacon, based on his ordination, received the faculties to baptize, to preach, to read the Gospel during Holy Mass, to assist the priest at the altar, and to distribute Holy Communion, especially there where Holy Communion is given under both species. He also presides weddings and conduct funerals and can give blessings.
Further it was made clear that a deacon officiates only within the boundaries of the parish he is appointed to.
Seen the scarce of vocations to the priesthood, it will become more and more customary that a deacon will take over the administration of a parish, and, if he has the qualifications a deacon can also do wonderful work in the education system, the health care and the department of correctional services.
Where parishes have one or more deacons, it would be good that they are introduced conveniently to the congregation where they have to pick up gradually their tasks, duties and responsibilities within the liturgical and pastoral framework of the parish.
Pastoral and liturgical situations always advise a good dose of common sense between the priest and the deacon. Together they are the clergy and that means that a common pastoral zeal has to eliminate every kind of negative and miserable attitude of concurrence.
In the Church we don’t speak about positions, power, influence or honor but about Service. The word “Deacon” (Diakonos in Greek) means SERVANT and the Pope describes himself as the “SERVUS SERVORUM” (Servant of the servants) and that says enough about the attitude which should be practiced in the apostolic domain.
In the present time, the Diaconate has it’s place in our local Church and we wish all our deacons God’s help to enable them to bring the so badly need of joy, peace and salvation to the people of God.
Fr. Edward Tratsaert SAC