During the days when Jesus walked among us as a Brother, He continually called His listeners to follow Him (cf- Mt 4:18-22, 9:9-13, 16:17-18, 19:16-22; Mk 1:16-20, 3:16, 2:13-17, 10:17-22; Lk 5:1-11, 6:14, 5:27-32, 18:18-23; Jn 1:35-51) so that He might teach them the way of the Kingdom of God. He called them to serve the people of God, as He Himself served them during His earthly ministry. For indeed, as He said: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mk 10:45).
After His glorious Ascension into heaven, the Apostles continued His ministry of service to God’s people as they strove to build up His Church. As their work met with success, it became necessary to appoint, train and ordain assistants to meet the needs of the people. So it was decided that the Disciples should “…select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:3-4). These men, Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmens and Nicholas of Antioch, became the first Deacons of the Church. Their ministry was to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the community of believers; assisting the Apostles in building the burgeoning Church. They served at table, they took the Eucharist to those who could not be present with the community, and assisted the Apostles in distributing the communal gifts. They dedicated their lives to serving the Other, through their service to those others.
In 1968 Pope Paul VI, as a result of the Second Vatican Council, reinstituted the office of Permanent Deacon within the hierarchy of the Church, to complement the office of Bishops and Priests. Since that time, more than 17,000 Permanent Deacons have been ordained to service within the Catholic Church in the United States alone. Within the Diocese of Ogdensburg today, there are 68 such men serving the needs of God’s people in the North Country.
After having completed the Formation for Ministry program, these men have studied Theology, Scripture, Ecclesiology, Sacraments, Liturgy, Canon Law, Catechesis, Spirituality, Social Justice, Pastoral Practice and Public Speaking; during a 4 year period of discernment and preparation for Ordination. They have given countless hours of study and service to the benefit of our Diocese and community.
The need continues to be great today, as it was “(W)hen He said to His Disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.’” (Mt 9:37-38).
Do you have a sense that God is calling you to serve His people in a more significant way? Do you feel that you may have some talents to offer in this service? Have you ever heard it suggested by a pastor, family member or friend that you should have been a Priest? Or that you would make a good Deacon? Are you at a point in your life where you wish to seriously consider the possibilities of such a commitment? If so, make it a point to contact your Pastor, or the Diocesan Diaconate Formation Office via the above email address.