Four men will be ordained to the permanent diaconate at a special Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.

Deacons exercise service to the Church and to the People of God through a three-fold ministry: Word, liturgy and charity.

As ministers of the word, deacons serve as evangelizers and teachers. As ministers of the liturgy, they assist not only the priest at the altar but also the gathered assembly throughout the liturgy.

Deacons may preside at other liturgical functions such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest and bringing communion to the sick and homebound.

As ministers of charity, the deacon is out in the world – bringing the ministry and presence of the Church to those who need it.

“This three-fold ministry is often expressed and experienced as separate ministries, but in the person of the deacon, the ministries of word, liturgy and charity actually become one ministry,” explained Josh Perry, director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington. “The unity of these ministries is best seen when the deacon is at Mass.”

He continued: At Mass, the deacon proclaims the Gospel and perhaps preaches (ministry of the word), he assists the priest at the altar (perhaps receiving the gifts of bread and wine from the people and preparing them at the altar), leads the people in praising God for His mercy, invites them to offer one another a sign of peace (ministry of the liturgy), brings the needs of the world to the mind of the Church when he offers the intentions during the Universal Prayer and dismisses the assembly at the end of Mass to bring Jesus Christ into the world (ministry of charity).

“The deacon at liturgy, then, presents a model of ministry for all of us,” Perry said. “Our work of evangelization consists in our proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our worship of God and our prayers for the needs of others, and our work of charity and justice in the world. The Christian life isn’t simply one or two of these, but it is all of them.

The four men scheduled to be ordained permanent deacons are:

Armand Auclair, St. Isidore Parish, Montgomery Center; George Flower, St. John the Baptist Parish, Enosburg Falls; Paul Kendall, Holy Family Parish, Springfield; and Tom McCormick, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Winooski.

—Revised version of a story originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.