Every priest of the Church is first ordained as a Deacon and the reasons for that are several. The ministry of the first Deacons, Stephen epitomizing that (Acts 6.5), was to work in an assisting and serving capacity so that the apostles could devote more time to their priestly roles of spreading the word and encouraging believers to be faithful to Christ’s teachings. Over history the ministry of the Deacon has been to focus his/her daily work in serving the poor and inspiring others to do the same. The role of the Deacon is a humble one, a background ministry, one of supporting and serving. As such, the ministry of the Deacon has always struck me as primary in importance. To serve as a Deacon is to remember that the smaller actions in life, perhaps especially those no one else ever notices, are among the greatest ones we perform. The Deacon is to support and serve, thereby glorifying God and God alone.
Some are called particularly to the ministry of the Diaconate and feel that is to be a permanent arrangement. Vocational Deacons, also called Permanent or Perpetual Deacons, have a high and rare calling. Typically their lives will be centered around serving the poor and working within a parish, usually without pay, to teach ways in which such service could be performed by others and assist the priests at the Eucharist. In St. John’s past there was such a humble servant, Deaconess Myers, who worked in the parish in the 40s and 50s.
More typical in our experience is the Transitional Diaconate which those called to be priests go through. To be ordained a priest, one must first serve as a Deacon for at least six months. In one way this transitional time allows time for further discernment of the calling to priesthood, a final phase of clarifying one’s call. More importantly, however, this time of service as a Deacon helps establish in the individual a reminder of primacy. Always a priest is to serve rather than rule, lift up rather than put down, invite rather than exclude, and our ordination first as deacons becomes an annual reminder that first we are deacons and then we are priests.
Candice Frazer and Daniel Cenci will be ordained ordained to the historic diaconate this week: Candice on Thursday night at 6:00 in Selma, Daniel on Saturday morning at 11:00 here at St. John’s. For six months they will both serve St. John’s as Deacons before they are ordained priests here on November 23. You will notice during that time they will not preside at the Eucharist or pronounce absolution or blessing. They will read the Gospel and prepare the altar for Communion and otherwise assist in the liturgy, including preaching on a regular basis. As Associate Rectors, their experience here will be full. Daniel will continue to take responsibility for much of our Mission and Outreach efforts. Candice will oversee much of the liturgical functioning of the parish. Both will be fully involved, teaching regularly, preaching, and making pastoral calls. Both will enter as fully in their Associate Rector roles as Deacons can. And that will expand when they are made Priests.
We know Daniel well as he has served here nearly a year as Lay Associate. We also know Candice well as she worked with us last summer. As you might imagine, I am elated to have two such persons to serve here as full partners in ministry. They will offer us so much. We have much to offer them. And the three of us will make a pretty dynamic clergy team. May these six months be for Daniel and Candice a time in which their pending ordination to the priesthood is informed and strengthened. And may we grow together in our service of the Lord as His name is glorified through their ministry.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Family Promise – Homeless Family Ministry – Needs Help
We host the week of June 16-23 and needs cooks and overnight hosts
Sign up in the Parish Hall or email Diane Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Youth Sunday – May 19 at 10:30 – The Day of Pentecost
Picnic on the grounds at noon
Dress Casual, Wear Red, Bring a dish to share