What is a deacon and how is it different than a priest?
A deacon can do everything a priest can do except celebrate the Eucharist and hear confessions. That means a deacon can perform baptisms, weddings, funerals, distribute holy Communion and preach on the Gospel. Nowadays the diaconate is viewed as a unique ministry unto itself and not just a step along the way to priesthood.
There are, therefore, in the Church, permanent deacons and transitional deacons.
Permanent deacons may be married or single. They are ordained and hence members of the clergy (as priests and bishops are). Permanent deacons, especially those who are married, have secular jobs to support their families and also help the local pastor by visiting the sick, teaching the faith, counseling couples and individuals, working on parish committees and councils, and giving advice to the pastor.
Transitional deacons are seminarians or Religious who are ordained deacons as a necessary step towards priestly ordination.
In conclusion, deacons – both permanent and transitional – can baptize, witness marriages, perform funeral and burial services outside of Mass, distribute Holy Communion, preach the homily (which is the sermon given after the Gospel at Mass), and are obligated to pray the Divine Office (Breviary) each day. (The Divine Office, Breviary, orLiturgy of the Hours are all the same thing. These are the 150 Psalms and Scriptural readings from the Old and New Testament that every deacon, priest, and bishop must pray every day and a few times during each day.)
Most popular questions
- I feel I have a specific charism to youth outreach. Can I live this charism out as a priest, or must I follow the charism of the order I join?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- Are religious orders different from one another? If so, how are they different?
- What if I change my mind about being a priest during training or things just don’t work out? How do I pick my life back up again?
- Why would anybody become a priest nowadays?
- If I request information about joining a religious organisation, will I be pressured into joining?
- As a priest, will I get to see and talk with family and friends regularly?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- Do religious communities offer a trial period?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?