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Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Séamus Cunningham

Permanent Diaconate

Bishop Séamus Pastoral Letter - January 2018

Bishop Séamus' Pastoral Letter talks about the role of a Deacon and the importance it plays within our Diocese.


Trainee Deacons Retreat 2018

Over the weekend of 23 - 25 February 2018, the Diocesan Deacons in Training attended their annual retreat along with their wives. This year's Retreat was entitled, "Who is Being Overlooked, and Do We Need to Respond?" and was led by Fr. Jim O'Keefe.

Jim gave a great deal of food for thought over an excellent and challenging weekend. He helped us to see how things could/should be in following and coming to know the

'person, of Jesus; and growing into the service, discipleship and the courage needed to make a difference in people's lives, but first of all in my own'.

A truly awe inspiring weekend was the summing up.

Pat Kennedy MPS. Member of Diaconate Formation Team.


What is a deacon?

In the early church, deacons were very important. The Second Vatican Council saw the need to restore the Permanent Diaconate which is open to married men, and most dioceses throughout the world have begun to accept this need.

Increasingly, deacons are becoming involved in various ministries throughout our diocese. Some are involved in paid ministry such as hospital chaplaincy or lecturing, several are involved in various diocesan commissions and associations such as Marriage and Family Life, Vocations, Diaconate Formation and Marriage Tribunals. All are involved in their local parish and community, some with added responsibility where there is no resident priest. Deacons are unpaid, most in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese are married men and their wives play an important part in the formation and ministry of deacons. The deacons are from a wide range of professional and educational backgrounds and together they form a diaconal community to support each other in their spiritual and ministerial lives.

What does a deacon do?

A deacon receives the sacrament of Holy Orders and is an ordained minister within the Roman Catholic Church. The clerical dress of a deacon is similar to that of a priest but the ministry of a deacon should not be confused with that of a priest. Deacons are ordained to serve the Church in a threefold ministry.

The Ministry of Charity

The deacon is particularly called to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised, and he will often coordinate the local church’s response to their needs. He must have a special care for matters of social justice and he should aim to foster and support parish groups and organisations that share this concern

The Ministry of the Word

The deacon will proclaim the Gospel and sometimes preach at Mass and other religious services.

He will preside at services other than the Mass and he will lead the people in prayer.

He will also officiate at funeral and burial services.

The Ministry of the Altar

The deacon has a special ministry during Mass and he will assist the bishop or priest who is presiding. He will distribute Holy Communion at Mass, in hospital and in the homes of the sick, the housebound and the dying. The deacon will baptise and help to prepare people for this sacramental celebration. He will also prepare people for the Sacrament of Marriage and he may officiate at their wedding.

Deacons assisting at masses and services in the diocese: