by Abby Defino
Alongside our dedicated priests we have here at St. Isidore, are their right-hands during masses, sacraments and other church and parish events – our deacons. Currently, we have four deacons serving our parish, Deacon Terry Cummiskey, Deacon Daniel Defino, Deacon Terry Neary and Deacon Hung Nguyen.
Deacons have many duties and can perform a variety of tasks within and outside of church. These include, but not limited to, assisting at mass, proclaiming the gospel, and occasionally preaching a homily. They can also perform sacraments and other rites like baptisms, weddings and funerals, outside of the mass. By definition, deacons are servants, so they are always involved in other ministries outside of mass and sacraments as well. Some of their involvement outside of the parish can include ministering to the sick,the imprisoned and the homeless. Some deacons also have been involved as Eucharistic Ministers to the nursing homes.
Regarding the process of becoming a deacon, formation is almost five years long, and there are many requirements and steps they must take before they reach Ordination. Schooling is through the Joliet Diocese, at the Blanchette Center diocesan office in Crest Hill. Once schooling is complete, ordination for deacons is held once every two years, at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. Requirements to begin the process of becoming a Deacon includes a background check, a psychological evaluation and almost five years of classes to prepare. You must be at least 35 years old before you begin formation, and no older than 60, and of course, you must be Catholic, and have made received all your Sacraments.
Although deacons are considered “ordained ministers”, there are a few tasks they cannot perform within the church, which a priest can. The main differences are that priests can consecrate the Eucharist, hear confession, and anoint the sick, while deacons cannot. Another important thing to note, is that all priests are deacons first – even the Pope! So every priest you see today was, at one point, a deacon that then progressed on to becoming a priest.
There are two kinds of deacons – transitional and permanent. Transitional deacons eventually move on and become a priest, while permanent deacons plan not to move past that. Permanent deacons can transition at a point, if they are no longer married; most permanent deacons need to balance their ministry with their family life.
All in all, there is no doubt our deacons play a huge role in masses and other parish events. On top of assisting our priests with all that’s going on here at St. Isidore, they continue to be gracious and supportive members of our parish, ready to serve wherever they are led, for all who need them.