Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Deacons: Called to serve the Father and the people

February 12, 2020

By Darcy Fargo

OGDENSBURG – “A deacon is called to serve,” said Deacon John J. Drollette, diocesan director of Deacon Formation. “That’s the core of it.”

Deacons are ordained ministers. As ordained ministers, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says deacons “are called to the functions of Word, Sacrament and Charity.”

“As ministers of the Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach and teach in the name of the Church,” USCCB says. “As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshalling the Church’s resources to meet those needs. Deacons are also dedicated to eliminating the injustices or inequalities to meet those needs.”

Deacon Drollette and Deacon Kevin T. Mastellon, diocesan director of Permanent Deacons, say having deacons in the diocese has become increasingly important in recent years.

“We’re certainly seeing evidence that we have a shortage of priests,” Deacon Mastellon said. “It’s becoming increasingly important that we have others – lay ministers and ordained ministers – to help in parishes. With deacons, we have ordained men who have committed their lives to Christ. With that, we have the opportunity to have men in parishes to aid in the administration of the sacraments and to help in the parishes.”

“In the days when parishes had four or five priests, duties were split between them,” added Deacon Drollette. “Now, we have a lot fewer active priests in the diocese. Those few priests are responsible for meeting the spiritual needs of their parishes. Having deacons helping allows for more pastoral needs to be met. In this diocese, we have deacons in hospital ministry, prison ministry, helping people with family needs, economic needs.”

Deacon Mastellon noted that priests remain the principle administrators of sacraments.

“We’re not trying to take the place of priests; that’s not our role,” he said. “We’re helping out where there are needs. We are men who are dedicated to Christ, to spreading the good news, and we assist and work with our priests to do that. Our function, our ordination conforms us to Christ and to His service capacity. Jesus came to serve his Father and serve the people. That’s what we do.”

The role of each deacon within their parish is largely dependent upon the desires of the pastor, Deacon Mastellon said.

“A pastor can ask a deacon or assign a deacon to a number of different tasks,” he said. “A deacon might run the RCIA program. They might handle sacramental preparation. They typically assist at liturgy on weekends and holy days, and sometimes during the week. In some cases, a deacon may have various administrative functions, though that’s not limited just to deacons. We have a deacon, Deacon Brian Dwyer, who runs the parishes’ day-to-day operations as a pastoral life coordinator with a pastor serving as the canonical head of the parishes. A number of deacons are pastoral associates. It all depends on what the pastor needs them to do and that relationship with the pastor.”

The vast majority of the deacons in the diocese are married, and that can create additional challenges, the deacons said.

“The deacon may be working a full-time job and then spending another 10 or more hours at the church, and that can really eat into family life and the relationship with the spouse,” Deacon Mastellon said.

“It’s about finding a balance,” added Deacon Drollette. “If you have a healthy relationship at home and a healthy relationship with the Church, these things can blend and work themselves out, but it can be a process.”
The deacons said the ministry is worth the work it takes to overcome the challenges.

“I’ve grown so much, both intellectually and spiritually,” said Deacon Mastellon. “I’m a totally different person than I was in 2003, when I was ordained. I’m calmer, quieter. I listen better. I see things differently. I thank God for all those blessings. Being a deacon has really changed my life.”

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.