The deacon’s ministry of service is linked
with the missionary dimension of Church:
the missionary efforts of the deacon
will embrace the ministry of the word,
the liturgy, and works of charity
which, in their turn,
are carried into daily life.
Directorium Pro Ministerio et Vita Diaconorum Permanentium
Engaging the Diaconate in Mission
Deacons are called in a particular way to participate in the mission of Christ. The strong links between diaconal ministry and mission are grounded in the earliest example of the deacon Philip, who sought to bring the Good News to Samaria and later the Ethiopian court official. (Acts 8). With the restoration of the permanent diaconate, the universal norms for the ministry and life of the deacon underscore the missionary role of the diaconate:
"The deacon will be aware that the Church is missionary by her very nature, both because her origin is in the missions of the Son and Holy Spirit, according to the eternal plan of the Father and because she has received an explicit mandate from the risen Lord to preach the Gospel to all creation and to baptize those who believe (cf. Mk16, 15-16; Mt 28:19). Deacons are ministers of the Church and thus, although incardinated into a particular Church, they are not exempt from the missionary obligation of the universal Church. Hence they should always remain open to the missio ad gentes to the extent that their professional or – if married – family obligations permit.
The deacon’s ministry of service is linked with the missionary dimension of Church: the missionary efforts of the deacon will embrace the ministry of the word, the liturgy, and works of charity which, in their turn, are carried into daily life."
Congregation for the Clergy, Directorium Pro Ministerio et Vita Diaconorum Permanentium. 1998. Para. 27.
Maryknoll was founded almost 100 years ago to animate and support the U.S. Church in mission ad gentes. During that time, Maryknoll has responded to changes in the world and Church to meet the challenges and opportunities for mission. With the development and maturation of the permanent diaconate in the U.S., new opportunities and challenges now exist to engage the diaconate in mission.
With its 100 years of experience and expertise in mission, Maryknoll offers its services to better help engage the diacontate in mission in three particular areas:
1. Mission Education and Awareness: Many deacons and their wives have yet to fully realize the important role that they are called to play in carrying out Christ’s mission. Maryknoll can provide dioceses and deacons and wives resources for their initial and ongoing formation to develop a strong mission identity and spirituality and to train and form deacons and wives to become mission educators and animators.
2. Engaging Deacons and Wives in Mission Immersion Trips and Short Term Mission Opportunities: Immersion trips (one to three weeks) provide an unique and often life changing opportunity to step outside one’s own culture and experience first hand “the joy and hope, the grief and anguish” of their brothers and sisters around the world. These profound experiences foster bonds of solidarity, which can create lasting relationships between the church at home and abroad. In addition, short term mission endeavors (one to twelve months) provide concrete opportunities to participate in mission through a variety of ministries.
3. Engaging Deacons and Wives as Mission Promotion Partners: Many dioceses require or recommend that deacons have a specific charity and justice ministry apart from their liturgical or parish assignments. Maryknoll can assist and support deacons and wives to participate in ministry as mission educators and animators for the local church.