The Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of La Crosse, like their brother deacons around the world, seek to live their vocation as humble images of Christ the Servant (the word “deacon” is derived from the Greek diakonia, which literally means “service”). They are men mostly with wives and families, though typically their children are older. They have had-and often continue to have-active careers, and before they began their formation toward the permanent diaconate they were already serving their parishes as dedicated members of the laity. But they felt a deeper call and followed it, and now serve the Church as ordained members of the clergy.
The permanent deacons of this Diocese provide an invaluable service in visiting the sick and the homebound, preparing couples for marriage, teaching in the RCIA and faith formation programs, preaching the Gospel, administering baptism, officiating at weddings and wakes, assisting at the altar, carrying out administrative tasks, and more. But of all these forms of diaconal ministry, it is the service of charity-to the weakest, the most vulnerable, the suffering, those who hunger for heartfelt care, but also for the reassuring light of Christian faith and truth-that lies at the very heart of their vocation to the permanent diaconate.
A small but growing number of permanent deacons in this Diocese are employed full time in parishes, while most offer their ministry on a part-time basis while continuing to hold jobs in the secular world. Indeed, the deacon is uniquely an inhabitant of two worlds, the clerical and the secular, thus forming a bridge between the two. He has a precious opportunity to infuse the world of secular work and society with the light of Christ and, conversely, to enrich his diaconal ministry in the Church with firsthand experience of marriage, family life, and the secular world.
The Diocese of La Crosse has benefited greatly from the humble and qualified service of these men who are ordained to image Christ the Servant, and there is a need for more of them. A new class of aspirants to the permanent diaconate is started every two years, with the next class to be launched in the fall of 2017.
If you wish to learn more about the formation, life and ministry of the permanent deacon, two excellent Vatican documents can be found at: http://www.cin.org/docs/deacon98.html