Consecrated life begins for new permanent deacons

February 10, 2015

HOUSTON — From all walks of life, 31 men share a common bond in faith and willingness to serve the Archdiocese. On Jan. 31, they were ordained as permanent deacons at a ceremony presided by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, along with Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz and Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza. 

For each, it marked the end of six years of rigorous study and pastoral formation — and the beginning of consecrated life in the Permanent Diaconate at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, which was filled to capacity by families and supporters of each candidate. 

There are now more than 400 permanent deacons serving in the Archdiocese — some working in parishes and schools, serving as liturgists, homilists, catechists, ministers and administrators, while others commit to social ministries such as corrections services, special youth, hospital ministry, port chaplaincy and much more. They assist bishops and priests at the celebration of the Eucharist, assist and bless marriages, preside over Baptisms, funerals and other special blessings. They balance their ordination with their "ordinary" lives, some as husbands, dads and breadwinners. 

"What has begun in Baptism with you brothers, has deepended today — intensified — amplified in the call of the Church to ministry and office," Cardinal DiNardo said during his homily. "As of today you delight, indeed, in sitting amongst God's people. You will be called most often to stand near the altar. You should take that responsibility personally and seriously." 

Cardinal DiNardo said the deacons will be called to not only stand at the altar, but by the gift of their formation and his permission as bishop to preach publicly the Word of God.
"You are called personally — personal responsibility — to charity and outreach," Cardinal DiNardo said. "From the beginning the deacon in the church was always known as the one at the public who checked out and saw the ones who were at the margins and made sure they were personally cared for and remember that is still the case today and it is very much a part of your ministry." 

Training and preparation of the deacons is carried out through efforts led by Deacon Gerald DuPont, the Archdiocesan director for the Permanent Diaconate. Then, prior to ordination, the Cardinal interviews each candidate and his wife. 

One Saturday a month for the past six years, the wives were required to attend all-day pastoral and spiritual classes with their husbands. Every Wednesday evening, diaconate candidates attended classes toward a bachelor's or master's degree in theology. 

Typically, a candidate and his wife are already active in the Church before he receives the call to the diaconate. After prerequisite courses which usually include basic theology and Formation Toward Christian Ministry — and more soul-searching, the candidate joins the program as an aspirant. 

The sponsoring parish and the Archdiocese split the aspirant's education costs. Should his wife decide to follow the academic tracks, the parish and Archdiocese pay her costs as well.