Lord I pray not only for myself but for the whole community of ST. James that through our acts and deeds by living out the gospels daily that all the people I meet today will see Christ in me and I will see your face in them. Amen
Alpha is a place to connect with other people who are open to exploring life, faith, and meaning.
Each session includes a time to connect with others (often over a free meal), hear a short talk on an
element of the Christian faith, and then a chance for each person to share their own questions with
the group. We’d love to hear your perspective!
Alpha is a multi-week course that creates a space where people come and discuss life’s big questions. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha runs online, in cafés, churches, universities, homes - you name it. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: hospitality, a talk and good conversation.
A deacon is a member of an order of ordained ministry with its roots in the earliest days of the Church. The New Testament relates that the apostles prayed and laid hands on certain men to designate them for special service to meet the needs of the faith community (Acts 6:1-6). “Deacon” comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning “servant.” Strengthened by sacramental grace, in union with the bishop and his priests, deacons are called to serve the people of God in the three-fold ministry of liturgy, word, and charity .
Even though they may look alike and share many responsibilities, deacons are not priests.
Sometimes going to Mass can be confusing for a Catholic unfamiliar with deacons. Both clergy members wear vestments at Mass and in some dioceses, both even wear Roman collars. To make it even more confusing, sometimes priests and deacons wear the same gray-colored clerical shirts with those Roman collars.
However, while deacons and priests may sometimes appear to be the same, their roles in the Church are very different.
The USCCB provides a succinct definition of a deacon and his particular role in the Church.
“A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three groups, or ‘orders,’ of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came ‘to serve and not to be served.’ The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.”
Deacons have been around the Church since the very beginning, frequently being referenced in the New Testament. To clarify this history Pope Francis created a commission to investigate the role of deacons in the early Church, looking especially at the role of women deacons.
The most well-known reference to deacons in the New Testament is from the Acts of the Apostles. It reads, “And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty'” (Acts 6:2-3).
From the very beginning deacons were known to serve and assist the priests and bishops in their sacramental ministry.
Practically speaking deacons can do many activities that priests participate in. Deacons can baptize, preach during Mass, officiate at a Catholic wedding, and even run a parish (with the permission of the local bishop). Deacons can also lead communion services that often look and feel like a Catholic Mass.
Deacons, however, can not consecrate the Eucharist or hear confessions. They can not administer the sacraments of Confirmation or Anointing of the Sick.
Simply put, deacons are meant to be servants, assisting the pastor (and Church) in whatever way he can.
All priests and bishops are also deacons, because the diaconate is the first of the three stages of Holy Orders. Deacons who go on to be ordained priests are known as transitional deacons. They are vowed to celibacy. Men who serve in the permanent diaconate — meaning they will not, as a rule, proceed to priestly ordination — may be married at the time of their ordination, but may not remarry if their spouse passes away.
The permanent diaconate is a specific vocation in the Church, one that depends on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God is the one who calls deacons to service in the Church through the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is important to remember that it is not something that is gained by going through the ranks of the Church, but something that is given (and received) through the grace of God.
While both priests and deacons are in ordained ministries, and they share some liturgical functions, their primary roles in the Church are distinct. Above all else, priests stand in persona Christi—in the person of Christ—to consecrate the Eucharist in the celebration of the Mass and to share the compassionate mercy and healing of God in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. Deacons never perform these sacred functions. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, deacons are ordained “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.”
Service has always been at the heart of the Church’s ministry. At the Last Supper, in washing the feet of his apostles, Jesus said, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn. 13:15). While all Christians, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to serve others, Pope St. John Paul II said, “The service of the deacon is the Church’s service sacramentalized.” Furthermore, he said, the diaconate is not just one ministry among others, but it is truly meant to be a driving force for the entire service of the Church.
Both Priests and Deacons wear symbolic vestments during Catholic liturgies. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing the same things, but there are some similarities and differences. For starters, they both wear the “Alb” the Alb is an all-white garment that symbolizes purity. It is then secured by the “Cincture,” which is the rope tied around the Alb, which is also a symbol of purity and the vow of chastity.
The priests wear a “Chasuble.” This is what we often see as a colorful robe-like cape that priests wear while celebrating Mass. You can also note that the Chasuble comes in different colors and that these colors all have meaning and are worn during a corresponding season or feast.
For the deacons, there is the “Dalmatic.” The only difference between the Dalmatic and Chasuble is that the Dalmatic has sleeves.
Lastly, both priests and deacons wear a “stole.” A Stope is a symbol that a priest and Deacon is on official sacramental duty. The priest places his stole around his neck while a deacon wears it diagonally across his chest.
Saint James Church- www.stjamesrcchurch.org
Diocese of Rockville Centre - www.drvc.org
Catholic Education in DRVC - www.drvcschools.org
Vocations - www.drvcvocations.com
Vatican - www.vatican.va
USCCB - www.usccb.org
Catholic Charities - www.catholiccharities.cc
Catholic Faith Network - www.cfntv.org
Catholic Health - www.chsli.org
Catholic Relief Services - www.crs.org
National Catholic Bioethics Center - www.ncbcenter.org
Mass Times - www.masstimes.org
New York State Catholic Conference - https://www.nyscatholic.org/
Word on Fire - www.wordonfire.org
The Augustine Institute - www.augustineinstitute.org