Monday, 30 September 2013
Deacons in Armagh - congratulations, but some questions?
Congratulations and best wishes to the five men ordained to the diaconate in the archdiocese of Armagh yesterday.
I fear the archdioces is making life difficult for them in where they have assigned them and the message that has been sent out.
Priests have always been afraid of deacons. They fear their "power base" so to speak and it was the reason the order, which remember existed before the separate order of priesthood, was consigned to a temporary and somewhat meaningless stage before ordination to the priesthood. These fears still exist among many priests, now with the added dislike by feminists, and fears of loss of power by certain lay people. It will not be easy to be a deacon.
So assignments. The five deacons have all been assigned to parishes some distance from their home parishes. And when they get there -
"He is called to minister in close-collaboration with priests and with laity who are entrusted with various ministries. Deacons play a key role in the development and coordination of lay ministry, they are not intended to replace lay ministries. These men have been reminded that in a parish they find their role by negotiation, supporting what already exists and helping to address needs that aren’t being met."
Not the easiest position in which to be put. But my real concern is this - they are all married men with families and jobs. They are told explicitly that they must put their marriages, families and jobs first - and yet they are assigned in some cases twenty miles away. So, Sunday morning comes. Mammy sings in the choir, two of the children are altar servers, the third is a sulky teenager who just about makes it to Mass. And Daddy? Well he has to drive somewhere else for Mass, no longer with his family.
Next day, Daddy gets home from work. He's a meeting to go to, only it's not just down the road now like it used to be, but forty minutes away and mammy needs the car. And work has asked him to stay a bit late.
So, what is the problem with assigning deacons to their home parishes where they are likely already involved in various activities, where it will be easier to negotiate their way round, where they can continue attending church with their wives and children?