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This weekend, on Sunday, October 1st, a rare and joyful event takes place in our parish community. Brendan Gallagher from Dunhill will today be ordained a permanent deacon for our diocese by Bishop Cullinan. Originally from Kilmacthomas, Brendan is a cabinet maker by profession, and is married to Bridget, and they live in Dunhill. They have five children; Mark, Brian, Tracey, Emma and Ben. Having felt a call to become a deacon, Brendan applied to the diocese and spent four years training, which included periods of pastoral work, academic study and liturgical formation.
Brendan will be stepping into a ministry that has deep roots in the life of our Church. Since the time of the apostles, deacons have played an integral role with regard to ministry in the life of the Church. The word ‘deacon’ means ‘servant’, and in the Acts of the Apostles, we find that the first deacons were ordained to assist the apostles in the distribution of food to the poor (c.f. Acts 6:1-6). A deacon was essentially a man chosen from the Christian community and ordained as a servant of Christ. It is therefore a ministry rooted in Christ the servant. The deacon’s ministry was closely connected to that of the Bishop, in that a deacon was ordained primarily to serve his Bishop and assist him in various ways, such as bringing the bread and wine to the altar at Mass, visiting the sick on his behalf, assisting with baptisms and proclaiming the Word of God.
As centuries passed, the ministry of permanent deacons declined, so that up until the 1960s, virtually all deacons were ‘transitional deacons’, i.e. men who were ordained deacons on the path to priestly ordination. This is because the diaconate is the first stage of Holy Orders. With the second Vatican Council, however, a renewed emphasis was placed on the permanent diaconate, where older men, whether single or married, could offer their lives and their talents for the service of Christ’s Church once again. It is only in recent years that our own diocese has begun to adopt this programme. Brendan will be the second permanent deacon ordained for Waterford and Lismore; the first was Lazarus Gidolf, who was ordained in June 2015 and who currently ministers in the Clonmel area.
The ministry of the deacon today is generally much broader since the time of the early Church. Brendan will exercise his diaconate in three key ways: (1) assisting at liturgies, especially the Mass, (2) proclaiming the Word of God and preaching on it, and (3) performing works of charity and service in Christ’s name. These include various roles such as presiding over public prayer, administering Baptism, assisting at and blessing marriages, bringing Viaticum to the dying and conducting funeral rites. In each of these, the faithful recognise in the deacon the presence of Christ himself, who came not to be served but to serve. It will therefore fall to Brendan to minister and serve in Jesus’ name in these roles in the coming years. We in Tramore pray for him, that his ministry may bring abundant fruitfulness and joy both to him and to all whom he serves.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.
Believe what you read, teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.”