On Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m., nine men will be ordained permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Toronto. Their ministry begins in Toronto’s St. Paul’s Basilica, but will extend far beyond church walls.
The assignments for these new deacons reflect the diverse ways the Church is engaged in society: serving the poor at St. Francis Table, accompanying the sick and dying in hospitals, and assisting those with intellectual disabilities. Other deacons will support former prisoners through the Friends of Dismas ministry and provide pastoral care to itinerant workers through the Apostleship of the Seas.
The Mass and ordination ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto.
Permanent deacons serve the Church by assisting the archbishop and priests of the diocese. Their roles may be linked to charitable work in the community, ministering in parishes and schools, and serving directly on the altar - they have the liturgical authority to baptize children, witness marriages and preside at funerals.
In 1967, following the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church reintroduced the permanent diaconate program. Unlike transitional deacons, permanent deacons are not studying to become priests - once ordained, they remain deacons for the rest of their lives. Since 1972, St. Augustine’s Seminary in Scarborough has provided the formation program for 287 diaconal candidates and their wives serving in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Nearly 150 deacons are currently in active ministry. The program involves one year of prayer and discernment and four years of formation and theological study.
The class of 2016 represents a diverse range of backgrounds and professions: