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?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- Why are there so many different religious organisations?
- The idea of public speaking is very challenging to me and I avoid it if possible. How can I be a priest when I hate public speaking?
- I hear my local priest say in his homily that there’s a shortage of priests in Ireland, is there really a shortage of priests?
- Why do I have to be celibate to be a priest?
- If I become a priest, will I be living with mostly elderly men?
- Would entering a religious community mean that I would have to sever my relationships with family and friends?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- As a priest if I decide that I no longer want to do something, such as work in a specific parish, do I have any say or is it all out of my hands?