That’s the conclusion of Fr. Peter J. Daly, writing in the Brooklyn Tablet:
The Catholic Church in the various parts of the Americas has much that we could learn from one another. U.S. parishes could learn about joyful and enthusiastic celebration from Latino countries. The Latino Catholic community could learn about the ministry of permanent deacons from North America.
The Catholic Church everywhere needs more clergy. Permanent deacons are part of the answer. The Latin American church could imitate the U.S. in embracing the permanent diaconate. In the U.S. we have one priest for every 1,500 to 2,000 Catholics, depending on the area. But we have nearly 17,000 permanent deacons, which is about 40% of the permanent deacons in the world.
In Latin America, parishes often have one priest for 10,000 Catholics or more. In most of Latin America, there are no permanent deacons. I met the only permanent deacon in the whole country of Nicaragua at a funeral a few years ago. There should be one in every village in Latin America.
For many people in rural Mexico or Nicaragua, the church is an empty building. Many towns have a chapel where Mass is celebrated once or twice a year. People are baptized as babies but then spiritually abandoned. As a result they become evangelicals or Pentecostals when a local preacher shows up in town. What else could we expect?
But if they had a permanent deacon, it would be better. He could be a married man from the village. He could be trained to preach the word, pray with the sick, officiate at weddings and bury the dead. He could know his people who would be his neighbors. A permanent deacon could celebrate a Liturgy of the Word on Sunday, preach a homily and distribute the Eucharist consecrated earlier at the parish church.
Posted in Deacons
Yes, I agree with Fr. Daly, but let me add that in some of the dioceses and parishes that I’ve been to, the deacon is either no where to be seen or replaced by lay people, whom the pastor has appointed to do what the clergy are supposed to do. I call it clericalism! And sadly, some priests seem to not want a deacon around. I’ve personally experienced that! So, let’s pray for more priests and deacons to serve the people of God everywhere in the world, and that they be holy and sanctified!