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Posted October 12, 2006

Book: The Deacon Reader
Edited by James Keating
Paulist Press. New York. 2006. Pp. 280

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

The essays collected in this book aim to give the reader an overview of the theological and pastoral nature of the diaconate and thus to clarify the fundamental identity of the deacon, for those who are discerning such a call as aspirants and those who are already candidates for the office. In so doing, the book assists diaconal students in grasping some of the theological, pastoral, spiritual, sacramental, and sociological aspects present in this vocation, and thus foster the intellectual formation of deacon students.

An Excerpt from the Book:

If deacons are “ambassadors” of the church to the world, there is plenty of work to do on the return trip: helping the church learn from and benefit from the insights and talents of its members who work outside of the church and parish. The church’s need for insight and leadership from deacons and laypeople experienced in secular affairs has never been greater. This need goes far beyond repairing the flaws in church governance and oversight that become apparent in many dioceses as a result of the sexual abuse crisis of recent years. As the church looks to the future, it needs new models for governing and administering parishes; new approaches to recruiting and training people for (and paying people for) new forms of parish leadership and ministry; new ways to make and implement decisions about the church’s resources (parish closings, administration of Catholic schools, and so on); and new ways to articulate and preach its message to an increasingly indifferent surrounding culture. These are all hard problems, and all issues where deacons, as the church’s official “go-betweens,” could play an innovative role in tapping the experience and talents of the secular world.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Historical and theological foundations for diaconal identity

1. The history of the diaconate

2. The contemporary renewal of the diaconate

3. The deacon and Gaudium et Spes

4. The diaconate as Medius Ordo: service in promotion of lay participation

5. The deacon: icon of the sign of hope

6. The moral life of the deacon

Part 2: Pastoral foundations for diaconal identity

7. Theological education and the diaconate

8. Father and shepherd

9. The deacon and personal prayer

10. The deacon and work

11. The sacramental ministry of the deacon in parish life

Part 3: Sociological foundations for diaconal identity

12. The diaconate and marriage: a sociological reflection

13. The deacon’s wife: an emerging role

Epilogue: The kenotic leadership of deacons