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The Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Pembroke PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 February 2007 12:28
Part 1: The Call and the Beginning of his Journey

1. A Call (Vocation) to be 'Sacrament of Service' in the Church


(motto for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Pembroke)

These words of our Lord to his beloved disciples at the Last Supper are a clarion call to potential permanent deacons, a call to BE the sacrament of service to the Church and the world. Of course, all the baptized, whether lay or ordained, are called to DO service of others (diaconia in Greek). However, the permanent deacon serves under the Bishop, and in collaboration with him and the priests, he is a living sign of the care of Christ and his Church for the overlooked ones. He is called to BE service, to bring the Gospel of God's love to the world by word and action. A charism of his ordination is to animate "service" in others. [John Paul II - Address to the Permanent Deacons, 1993].

2. A Distinct Order from 'Priest' in the Hierarchy of Ordained Ministries

The permanent deacon is not a 'priest in training'; his true and ultimate vocation is 'permanent deacon', not 'priest'. The permanent deacon is part of the Hierarchy of Holy Orders, after bishops and priests. In the Diocese of Pembroke, deacons are committed to serving and supporting our priests, and encouraging others to do the same.

When ordained, the permanent deacon solemnly promises to:
• obey his Bishop and all successor bishops,
• pray the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for all people,
• conform his life to Christ, whose Body and Blood he gives to the people,
• discharge the office of deacon with humility and love in order to assist the bishop and the priests and to serve the people of God.

Then, he is instructed by the Bishop:
"Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach." Finally, the bishop lays his hands on the candidate's head, and officially consecrates him for holy service as a deacon.

3. Permanent Deacons in the Diocese of Pembroke

Permanent deacons have been in this diocese for over 30 years! Presently there are six active permanent deacons who are 'incardinated' in the Pembroke diocese. Like priests, deacons 'belong' to one diocese only, and are under the supervision of the bishop of that diocese. The active incardinated permanent deacons (and their wives) of the Pembroke diocese are:

Dcn. Albert Benoit (Charlotte) at Ste-Bernadette, Bonfield;
Dcn. Frank Martel (Danielle) at Sacre-Coeur, Corbeil;
Dcn. Neil Kuisma (Marilyn) at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Deep River;
Dcn. Michael McFarlane (Brenda) at St. Columbkille, Pembroke;
Dcn. Bob Probert (Lois) at Canadian Martyrs, Combermere and St. Francis de Sales, Latchford Bridge;
Dcn. Don Smith (Nancy) at St. Francis Xavier, Renfrew.

Each deacon is married and works to support their families, or receives pensions. Deacons are not usually paid salaries by the Church. All have made the promises described above to a Bishop of the Diocese of Pembroke. Finally, all have a fundamental desire to be "in your midst as one who serves". Details about the deacons in Pembroke and about the role and life of a deacon will be published in the next issue of Ecclesia as Part Two of this series.

Permanent deacons can officiate at baptisms, weddings, and funerals. They cannot preside at Mass or absolve sins as priests can. They proclaim the Gospel at Mass, and may preach regularly as scheduled by the Pastor. Deacons are ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and Viaticum to the dying. They are involved in many forms of ministry to those in need and serve all the faithful who, in turn, participate in the Church's life and mission.

4. Training and Formation for the Permanent Diaconate

Candidates for the permanent diaconate undergo 4 types of formation, namely, human, spiritual, doctrinal (theological) and pastoral.
Human formation is "molding the personality of the candidate in such a way that they become a bridge, and not an obstacle for others to meet Christ". The formation helps in the areas of psychological maturity in respect, honesty, justice and compassion; communication and listening skills; personal awareness and mastery of self; and ongoing commitment to his wife and family.

Spiritual formation emphasizes personal knowledge of God's word, thirst for prayer, recognition of the presence of God in others, sense of the Church, fraternal communion, Eucharistic and Marian devotion, love of Christ the servant, humility, retreats, and spiritual direction.

Theological formation includes studies in Scripture, Church Fathers, Church History, Fundamentals of Theology, Dogma and Sacramental Theology, Moral Theology and Ethics, Spiritual Theology, Liturgy, and Canon Law.

Pastoral formation includes teaching and practice in pastoral theology, homiletics, catechesis, liturgical praxis, Social Justice and Service of Charity, technical subjects, supervised diocesan and parish pastoral activities, and sharing with deacons.

Theological studies and some of the other parts of formation are provided for our candidates by the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

The Diocese of Pembroke provides the remainder (human, spiritual, and pastoral formation). In Pembroke, there are 5 candidates for the permanent diaconate:

1. Leonard Rodgers (Calumet Island) in Year 1
2. Bob Farmer (Quyon), in Year 1
3. Peter Grabosky (Pembroke), in Year 1
4. Robert Wilson (Otter Lake) in Year 2, and
5. Adrien Chaput (Petawawa) in Year 3.

The Diocese is very fortunate to have 5 such dedicated men whose driving desire is to be "in your midst as one who serves".

Deacons and candidates are very grateful for the support received from the Bishop and the priests of this Diocese. Perhaps there are other lay men here who are being called to follow in these footsteps?

5. Your Discernment - Do You have a Vocation to the Permanent Diaconate?

A pamphlet describing the desirable qualities of a candidate for the permanent diaconate and also the specific requirements of the Diocese of Pembroke has been sent to your Parish priest or administrator. Please ask for a copy and read it over.

The permanent diaconate is a calling from God. Some men will experience or recognize an interior prompting or sense that God wishes him to serve the Church and the world in this particular way.

This awareness needs to be discerned, or tested to ensure that it is real, true and lasting, and not merely a passing idea or feeling (something that you want for yourself without considering carefully what God wants first). In fact, this discernment process will continue even after an applicant has been accepted as a candidate for the formation program, right up to the time of ordination.

If you (and your wife) discern that you have a vocation to the permanent diaconate, please send a letter of intent to the Diocese of Pembroke stating why you believe you are being called to this vocation. You will receive an application packet.

For more information, please contact:

Deacon Bob Probert, Chair,
Committee for the Permanent Diaconate Diocese of Pembroke,
188 Renfrew St., P.O. Box 7,
Pembroke, ON K8A 6X1,
Phone: 613-633-9133
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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