After an initial spike in the numbers of men putting themselves forward to become deacons it is beginning to level, according to the former National Director of the Permanent Diaconate, Bishop Michael Duignan.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, Bishop Duignan of Clonfert said: “I suppose what we have noticed is initially a lot of people came forward for the permanent diaconate, I bet they had been waiting for a while but the ministry wasn’t available. In a lot of dioceses, the numbers coming forward is levelling off.
“There are not as many coming forward as there was at the beginning. I don’t know if it will grow enormously. We’d have to wait and see. But I suppose it is a ministry that has a role and that, coordinated with all the other ministries in the Church, can bring its own particular take to things and can bring its own particular richness.”
Currently about 60% of dioceses have engaged with the permanent diaconate. Asked whether there has been pushback to the ministry since the first deacons were ordained in 2012 for the Archdiocese of Dublin and Elphin diocese, Bishop Duignan said: “Every diocese introduces the permanent diaconate when it’s right, when it’s ready for them to introduce.
“So I wouldn’t say that there was pushback, I’d say that dioceses were discerning when the moment was right, and for some of them the moment was right at the beginning, others were waiting to see how it developed, how it bedded in and others are still in that process of discernment. I think each one is on their own road of discernment. I wouldn’t see it as pushback, I would see it as discernment.”