What does a deacon do?
A deacon is easily identifiable while he serves at the altar. He is the one assisting the priest at the Eucharistic Table. The deacon wears a stole diagonally across his chest (or a dalmatic that looks similar to a priest’s chasuble but has arms). The deacon leads the congregation in the Penitential Rite. He proclaims the Gospel, and he may deliver the homily afterwards. Oftentimes, the deacon also reads the Prayers of the Faithful. He pours the wine and water into the chalice at the altar, and the deacon elevates the chalice during the Eucharistic Prayer, as the priest elevates the Host.
But, away from his service at the altar, the deacon is not easily identified. He may be serving at a hospital, a prison or a homeless shelter. In these venues, the deacons are not attired in any specific garments. And the deacon blends in with others who are serving those in need. Some deacons teach in their parishes; many are involved in RCIA, Marriage Preparation, or Baptismal classes. Other deacons lead Bible Study or ongoing faith formation classes. You may see deacons leading Funeral Vigils or Committals for deceased members of your parish. Deacons may also baptize infants and young children, and they may witness Sacramental marriages.
Wherever he may be, the deacon is a sign of service to the People of God.
Dcn. Michael Ghiorso
Director, Office of the Permanent Diaconate
Rev. Michael Sweeney, O.P.
Director, Office of Diaconate Formation
Mrs. Patricia Jameson