Last year the church celebrated the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. Next year the church will celebrate another golden anniversary in its life when she celebrates 50 years since the renewal of the permanent diaconate as one of the fruits of the council. From the earliest days of the church, as we see in the Acts of the Apostles, the diaconate was at the heart of the church’s mission in modeling the servanthood of Christ. Deacons were the conscientious co-workers with the Apostles and the bishops who succeeded them. However, around the fifth century, the presence of deacons as a permanent order of the clergy gradually disappeared in the western church.
In 1967, Blessed Paul VI, citing the work of the Second Vatican Council, revived the diaconate as a permanent order itself in the life of church. Among their sacred duties as ordained ministers who are configured to the image of Christ the servant, deacons serve God and his people as ministers of word and charity. Since our diocese’s first class of permanent deacons was ordained in 2007, the diaconate community has continued to grow and bless our diocese with its ministry. It is with particular joy that on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate that Bishop Thomas John Paprocki ordains 11 men from the diocese’s fourth deacon formation class.
On behalf of Bishop Paprocki and the formation staff of the Office for the Diaconate, I wish to thank you, the faithful of the diocese, who have supported these men by your prayers and encouragement. I would especially like to thank those families, parishioners, deacons, and priests who have helped to form our new deacons during their time of training and preparation. Please continue to pray for those men who are currently in formation as well as for those whom the Lord is calling to this sacred order in the church’s life.
Father Christopher House
Director, Office for the Diaconate
Diocese of Springfield in Illinois