On Nov. 21, the largest class of deacons in the history of the Catholic Diocese of Victoria was ordained. Fifteen men from different parishes in the diocese will help the bishop and priests to evangelize and care for those in most need.

The deacons technically came before the priesthood, said Bishop Brendan Cahill.

“We had a big class, and the diaconate helps in evangelization, the mission for evangelizing in the diocese, so we have the bishop, priests and deacons, three orders established in the early church,” Cahill said. “We needed help in the ministry, so let’s look for well-respected men. From the foundation of the early church, the deacons formed to assist in the care of the people of God with special care for the poor and those most in need.”

One of the things considered by the Second Vatican Council held from 1962 to 1965 was to again promote the diaconate, so it has only been since the 1980s that big classes of deacons have been ordained around the world, Cahill said. That is certainly true for the Catholic Diocese of Victoria since it was just established in 1982.

The deacons help reach out to the poor, neglected and marginalized, Cahill said. They might focus on helping sailors, prisoners or truck drivers at truck stops in addition to the duties at their parishes. Those parish responsibilities include delivering homilies, visiting parishioners in the hospital and presiding over baptisms, weddings and funerals, among others.

The deacons are considered clergy like the bishop and priests, except that many of them are married. This means the vow of marriage comes first for them in the church. Single men who are ordained as deacons choose a life of celibacy.

“The most visible place you see them is on the altar next to the priest,” Cahill said. “In a lot of ways, the deacon can help with the pastoral care of the community. There are 15 different personalities from all over the diocese, and they are culturally different. They all have their unique gifts. It’s interesting because not everyone is the same. It’s always a discernment with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has to be the one guiding it.”

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Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!

There’s also more about the men in the newest edition of The Lighthouse.

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