The Second Vatican Council reestablished the Order of Deacons as a permanent rank in the hierarchy of the Church. The first permanent deacons in our diocese were ordained in 1979. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the deacon receives a permanent imprint or character which unites him to Christ. The bishop ordains deacons as consecrated witnesses to service. The deacon serves in the Ministry of the Word, the Ministry of Liturgy, and the Ministry of Charity and Justice.
At the Mass at the Jubilee of Permanent Deacons, on May 30, 2016, Pope Francis said, "Dear deacons, this is a grace you can implore daily in prayer. You can offer the Lord your work, your little inconveniences, your weariness and your hopes in an authentic prayer that brings your life to the Lord and the Lord to your life. When you serve at the table of the Eucharist, there you will find the presence of Jesus, who gives Himself to you so that you can give yourselves to others. In this way, available in life, meek of heart and in constant dialogue with Jesus, you will not be afraid to be servants of Christ, and to encounter and caress the flesh of the Lord in the poor of our time."
In 2023, Bishop Barres ordained six men to the permanent Diaconate. One of our newly ordained Deacons, Deacon Mike O’Brien, a parishioner of St. Hugh of Lincoln shared his journey and decision to become a permanent deacon. He has been a parishioner of St. Hugh of Lincoln for seven years, married and celebrating 25 years of marriage, has four children, and is an attorney.
The factors in becoming a Deacon are his faith and dedication to service. “Faith has been a big part of my life. I have attended mass daily for 25 years. The Diaconate is a way to serve the Church and share my faith with others. I heard the call to be a Deacon from others and God to take this step to this ministry.
The Church has a beautiful message. I hope to bring God’s message of love, mercy, and hope to others by spreading this message, helping others, and serving others with this message in ministry and other services.
Some of the ministries that I will be involved in as Deacon of this parish is to participate in the Ministry of the Word by reading the Gospel and preaching about it; the Ministry of the Liturgy by assisting at mass, and other sacraments, performing baptisms, officiating weddings and wake services. I will pray daily prayer, the liturgy of the hours along with the whole Church, and be a part of the Ministry of Service. I am called to serve the Church, fellow Christians, and the bigger world.”
His formation process was four years, attending classes at the Seminary every weekend. He learned how to minister to the people. “It was a deeply enriching and growing process. There was a lot of camaraderie and support with other Deacons and education by the Diocese was very thorough –it’s hard to imagine a better process. It was a big education of faith and prayer life, growing in humanity, and learning how to minister to the people of God. I feel like I am now really prepared, but I am still being guided by the Holy Spirit to be sent out to the world and evangelize. Preparation was great training. Every day I grow in my faith – ‘It now feels natural, it feels right.’
It is a great privilege, blessing, and responsibility to serve God’s people. I am called to serve at work, home, and the Church. On a personal level, not only have I grown, but my family has grown in love and tenderness. Bishop Barres approved me to become a deacon; it is a privilege to Church the people of Long Island.
My mission is to evangelize. There is a great message that the world needs and it is a tough job to get the message out. My experience has given me the fortitude to go out into the world and spread God’s message.
As a Deacon, the Eucharist is very personal, we are the link between priests and parishioners. The Eucharist is very enforcing of our faith. It is a blessing and we receive so many graces when we receive the Eucharist. As a Deacon, I can hold Eucharistic Adoration. There is something special when you sit and reflect on the Eucharist and let God come into your heart and mind. You gain strength, grace, and fortitude to live your lives as Christians in the world.
"As a Deacon, it is my hope to revitalize the faith of others. I go to nursing homes and the residents hear the Word of God and receive the Eucharist; At Wake services, when people have lost a loved one, I hope to revitalize their faith so that people know that they can call on and rely on God to help them through the difficult times. In happy times such as baptism and a wedding. God is there for them for the rest of their life.”
If you have been inspired by Deacon Mike O’Brien’s story or by one of the deacons in your parish and you would like to learn more about this ministry, contact Deacon Arthur A. Candido, Director of Deacon Formation by calling 631-423-0483 x178 or emailing email@example.com, or go to: Office of Deacons - The Diocese of Rockville Centre (drvc.org) for more information.