Rite of Ordination of a Deacon (1968)


1.  The ordination of a deacon should take place on a Sunday or holyday, when a large number of the faithful can attend, unless pastoral reasons suggest another day.  The public commitment to celibacy by the candidates for ordination as a priest and by an unmarried candidate for the diaconate, including religious, must be made before the rite of ordination of a deacon.

2.  The ordination should take place ordinarily at the cathedra or bishop's chair; or, to enable the faithful to participate more fully, a chair for the bishop may be placed before the altar or elsewhere.  A seat for the one to be ordained should be placed so that the faithful may have a complete view of the liturgical rites.

3.  The one to be ordained wears an alb (with amice and cincture unless other provisions are made).

4.  In addition to what is needed for the celebration of Mass, there should be ready: (a) the Roman Pontifical; (b) stole and dalmatic for the candidate.

5.  When everything is ready, the procession moves though the church to the altar in the usual way.  A deacon carries the Book of the Gospels; he is followed by the candidate and finally by the bishop between two deacons.

Liturgy of the Word

6.  The liturgy of the word takes place according to the rubrics.

7.  The readings may be taken in whole or in part from the Mass of the day or from the texts listed....

8.  The profession of faith is not said, nor are the general intercessions.

Ordination of a Deacon

9.  The ordination of a deacon begins after the gospel.  The bishop, wearing his miter, sits at the chair.

Calling of the Candidate

10.  The candidate is called by the deacon: Let N. who is to be ordained deacon please come forward.

11.  The candidate answers: Present, and goes to the bishop, before whom he makes a sign of reverence.

Presentation of the Candidate

12.  When the candidate is in his place before the bishop, the priest designated by the bishop says: Most Reverend Father, holy mother Church asks you to ordain this man, our brother, for service as deacon.

The bishop says: Do you judge him to be worthy?

He answers: After inquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those concerned with his training, I testify that he has been found worthy.

Election by the Bishop and Consent of the People

13.  Bishop: We rely on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and we choose this man, our brother, for the order of deacons.

All present say: Thanks be to God, or give their assent to the choice in some other way, according to local custom.


14.  Then all sit, and the bishop gives the homily.  He begins with the text of the readings from Scripture and then speaks to the people and the candidate about the office of deacon.  The bishop should take into consideration the state of life (married, celibate) in which the candidate will exercise his ministry, and speak about the meaning and importance of celibacy and/or Christian marriage in the Church.  He may use these words:

This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of deacons.  Consider carefully the ministry to which he is to be promoted.

He will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He will help the bishop and his body of priests as a minister of the word, of the altar, and of charity.  He will make himself a servant of all.  As a minister of the altar he will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord's body and blood to the community of believers.

It will also be his duty, at the bishop's discretion, to bring God's word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial.  Once he is consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and is bound more closely to the altar, he will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor.  From the way he goes about these duties, may you recognize him as a disciple of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.

He then addresses the candidate:

My son, you are being raised to the order of deacons.  The Lord has set an example for you to follow.

As a deacon you will serve Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others.  Do the will of God generously.  Serve God and mankind in love and joy.  Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no man can serve two masters.  Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be a man of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit.  Show before God and mankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, a true minister of Christ and of God's mysteries, a man firmly rooted in faith.  Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers; now you must not only listen to God's word but also preach it.  Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience.  Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth.  Then the people of Christ, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts.  Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord."

Commitment to Celibacy

After the homily the candidate, if he is to manifest his intention of a commitment to celibacy, stands before the bishop.  The bishop speaks to him in these or similar words:

By your own free choice you seek to enter the order of deacons.  You shall exercise this ministry in the celibate state for celibacy is both a sign and a motive of pastoral charity, and a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world.  By living in this state with total dedication, moved by a sincere love for Christ the Lord, you are consecrated to him in a new and special way.  By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will be more freely at the service of God and mankind, and you will be more untrammeled in the ministry of Christian conversion and rebirth.  By your life and character you will give witness to your brothers and sisters in faith that God must be loved above all else, and that it is he whom you serve in others.

Therefore, I ask you:

In the presence of God and the Church, are you resolved as a sign of your interior dedication to Christ, to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind.

The candidate answers: I do.

If it wishes, the conference of bishops may determine some external sign to express the intention of the candidate.

The bishop adds: May the Lord help you to persevere in this commitment.

The candidate answers: Amen.

Examination of the Candidate

15.  The candidate then stands before the bishop who questions him:

My son, before you are ordained a deacon, you must declare before the people your intention to undertake this office.

Are you willing to be ordained for the Church's ministry by the laying on of hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit?

The candidate answers: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to discharge the office of deacon with humility and love in order to assist the bishop and the priests and to serve the people of Christ?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience as the Apostle urges, and to proclaim this faith in word and action as it is taught by the Gospel and the Church's tradition?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to your way of life and, in keeping with what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world?

Candidate: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to shape your way of life always according to the example of Christ, whose body and blood you will give to the people?

Candidate: I am, with the help of God.

Promise of Obedience

16.  Then the candidate goes to the bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the bishop.  If this gesture seems less suitable in some places, the conference of bishops may choose another gesture or sign.

If the bishop is the candidate's own Ordinary, he asks: Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?

Candidate: I do.

If the bishop is not the candidate's own Ordinary, he asks: Do you promise respect and obedience to your Ordinary?

Candidate: I do.

Bishop: May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.

Invitation to Prayer

17.  Then all stand, and the bishop, without his miter, invites the people to pray:  My dear people, let us pray that the all-powerful Father will pour out his blessing on this servant of his, whom he receives into the holy order of deacons.

Deacon (except during the Easter season): Let us kneel.

Litany of the Saints

18.  The candidate prostrates himself and, except during the Easter season, the rest kneel at their places.  The cantors begin the litany...; they may add, at the proper place, names of other saints (for example, the patron saint, the titular of the church, the founder of the church, the patron saint of the one to be ordained) or petitions suitable to the occasion.

19.  The bishop alone stands and, with his hands joined, sings or says: Lord God, hear our petitions and give your help to this act of our ministry.  We judge this man worthy to serve as deacon and we ask you to bless him and make him holy.  Grant this through Christ our Lord.  R.  Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand.

Laying on of Hands

20.  Then all stand.  The candidate goes to the bishop and kneels before him.  The bishop lays his hands on the candidate's head, in silence.

Prayer of Consecration

21.  The candidate kneels before the bishop.  With his hands extended over the candidate, he sings the prayer of consecration or says it aloud.

Almighty God, be present with us by your power.  You are the source of all honor, you assign to each his rank, you give to each his ministry.  You remain unchanged, but you watch over all creation and make it new through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord: he is your Word, you power, and your wisdom.  You foresee all things in your eternal providence and make due provision for every age.  You make the Church, Christ's body, grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple.  You enrich it with every kind of grace and perfect it with a diversity of members to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.

You established a threefold ministry of worship and service for the glory of your name.  As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi and gave your blessing as their everlasting inheritance.  In the first days of your Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles of your Son appointed seven men of good repute to assist them in the daily ministry, so that they themselves might be more free for prayer and preaching.  By prayer and the laying on of hands the apostles entrusted to those chosen men the ministry of serving at tables.

Lord, look with favor on this servant of yours, whom we now dedicate to the office of deacon, to minister at your holy altar.

Lord, send forth upon him the Holy Spirit, that he may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry.  May he excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness of life.  May his conduct exemplify your commandments and lead your people to imitate his purity of life.  May he remain strong and steadfast in Christ, giving to the world the witness of a pure conscience.  May he in this life imitate your Son, who came, not to be served by to serve, and one day reign with him in heaven.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  R.  Amen.

Investiture with Stole and Dalmatic

22.  After the prayer of consecration, the bishop, wearing his miter, sits, and the newly ordained stands.  An assisting deacon or priest puts a deacon's stole and then a dalmatic on him.

23.  Meanwhile the following antiphon may be sung with Psalm 84: Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.  The antiphon is repeated after every two verses.  Glory to the Father is not said.  The psalm is interrupted and the antiphon repeated when the dalmatic has been put on the deacon.  Any other appropriate song may be sung.

Presentation of the Book of the Gospels

24.  Vested as a deacon, the newly ordained goes to the bishop and kneels before him.  The bishop places the Book of the Gospels in the hands of the newly ordained and says: Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.

Kiss of Peace

25.  Lastly, the bishop stands and gives the kiss of peace to the new deacon, saying: Peace be with you.

The deacon responds: And also with you.

If circumstances permit, the deacons present also give the kiss of peace to the newly ordained.

26.  Meanwhile, the following antiphon may be sung with Psalm 146: If anyone serves me, says the Lord, my Father in heaven will honor him.  The antiphon is repeated after every two verses.  Glory to the Father is not said.  The psalm is interrupted and the antiphon repeated when all have received the kiss of peace.  Any other appropriate song may be sung.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

27.  The Order of Mass is followed with these changes:

a.  The new deacon brings the offerings for the celebration to the bishop and assists him at the altar.

b.  In Eucharistic Prayer I, the special form of Father, accept this offering is said: Father accept this offering from your whole family and from the one you have chosen for the order of deacons.  Protect the gifts you have given him, and let him yield a harvest worthy of you.  [Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.]

28.  The new deacon receives communion under both kinds and if necessary assist the bishop in ministering the cup.  In any event he assists the bishop in giving communion to the people.