ROCKVILLE CENTRE - Bishop William Murphy will be the principal celebrant at a special liturgy celebrating a quarter century of the reestablishment of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Sunday, June 6 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Agnes Cathedral here. Almost 80 deacons, 17 of those jubilarians from the first class, their families, parish priests and pastors will be joining in the liturgy.
The diaconate began as a separate order in the early church, but evolved into a transitional stage in the process to the priesthood. In 1967 Pope Paul VI approved the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order in the church as called for in Vatican II. After several years of development and review, the late Bishop John McGann approved a diocesan program of study in 1976. The first class of 48 permanent deacons was ordained in June of 1979; many of these dedicated men continue to minister in the diocese today.
Bishop McGann envisioned the vocation of a deacon as different and distinct from their fellow clergy in the priesthood. In an interview with The Long Island Catholic in 1976 he said “I think it will bring some very dedicated laymen into active ministry. It will give us the benefit of the specialties the lay people have that they’re willing to contribute to the Church.” Many deacons are married, have children, and work in secular jobs.
Bishop William Murphy recently noted the importance of the role of deacons in the Church, saying “I am so grateful to God for the men of our Diocese serving as Deacons. They are a gift to the Church.“
The 260 men ordained as permanent deacons for the diocese currently serve in over 100 parishes and other ministries on Long Island. They can administer the Sacrament of Baptism and preside at weddings, wake and burial services as well as other liturgies. They can also preach at Mass. However celebrating the Sacraments of Penance, Confirmation, Annointing of the Sick and the celebration of the Eucharist remain a part of the ministerial life of priests only.
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