Candy and I do not have any of our Diaconate formation classes over the summer. Since there will be a number of months before our next series of classes start, I thought that I would share some FAQ’s about the Diaconate. As always, please don’t hesitate to respond or to contact me with any questions about becoming a deacon or about these blogs, Jay Krueger.
TRUE OR FALSE:
5. The wife of a deacon is called a deaconess.
6. A single or widowed deacon is expected to remain celibate the rest of his life.
5. FALSE. (But it was true at one time.) The wife of a deacon today is not called a deaconess. She should be referred to as “Mrs. Jones”, or “Louise”, if you are on familiar terms. She remains a lay member of the parish. Some deacons’ wives lament that people treated them differently after their husbands were ordained. This need not be so.
In the early church, the wife of a deacon was referred to as a deaconess. (Deaconesses, single or married, were responsible for preserving modesty during female baptisms.) However, married deacons (and married priests in the eastern rites) were expected to practice celibacy. Canon 13 of the Council of Tours (567 AD) states:
“If a presbyter be found with his presbytera or a deacon with his deaconess, or a subdeacon with his subdeaconess, he must be considered excommunicated for a full year and deposed from every clerical office, and know that he is considered among the laity.”
6. TRUE. Single men ordained to the diaconate, whether preparing for the priesthood or not, must take a vow of celibacy. They are not allowed to marry. Deacons who are widowed must also observe the norm of celibacy. However, the widow of a deacon may marry with the Church’s blessings.
The reason for this is simple. Those ordained to the service of Christ and His Church are called to consecrate themselves to this work with an undivided heart. The sacrament of matrimony and the sacrament of holy orders must not be in competition. A married man is ordained a deacon with his wife’s consent. The wife usually participates in the formation and discernment process. This is meant to safeguard against possible friction after ordination.
The virtue of chastity is expected in both married and unmarried deacons. Chastity refers to pure, self-giving love between a man and his spouse. This pure love brings forth physical and spiritual fruit. Married deacons usually have children, the physical fruit of chastity. Bishops, priests and single deacons are celibate in order to devote their fruitfulness to the Kingdom of God. Their spouse is the Church. The Catechism puts it nicely: “accepted with a joyous heart, celibacy radiantly proclaims the reign of God.” (1579)
Original article taken from the May 14, 1995 issue of “Catholic Twin Circle.”
If you are interested in becoming a Deacon Couple, please contact:
Diaconate Formation Office
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Boulevard, 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241
If you have any questions about the Diaconate, please ask us or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We greatly appreciate your prayers and support and will continue to keep you informed of our journey.
Candy & Jay Krueger,
Aspirancy Year, Deacon Couple Formation,
Holy Family Parish, South Pasadena