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 2017

Picture left to right: Paddy Jackson, Leam Lane, Pat Kennedy (Coordinator), Peter & Paula Smith, Lanchester, Fr. Chris Thomas, Tony and Elizabeth Joy, Washington and Paul and Victoria Nichol of Leadgate.

Over the weekend of 17 - 19 February trainee deacons and wives were led in their annual retreat by Fr. Chris Thomas of the Irenaeus Community Liverpool.

"It was an inspiring time, a full programme, inspiring, spiritual and also enjoyable."

"Good to spend time together in a different atmosphere."

"We have lots to think about in the coming year and we are grateful for Fr Chris’s input and wonderful way of presentation."

Pat Kennedy. MPS. Co-ordinator of Study.

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. Hexham and Newcastle now has 19 deacons with 11 in formation. In the U.S.A. there are over 10,000 deacons!
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 deacon’s 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: