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Posted Sunday, January 12, 2003

Book: The Diaconate in the Christian Church: Its History and Theology
A Look at the Past and a Dream for the Future
Author: Kenan B. Osborne, O.F.M.
The National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD), Chicago, pp.65


Excerpt from Preface:

1996 marks the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the National Association of Diaconate Directors. Throughout the United States and Canada, the Association's membership collaborates in the reinstitution and renewal of the Order of Deacons in local Churches. In the midst of regional diversity, the Association continues to discover and share its solidarity through a common mission and vision, as well as experiencing the talents of tremendous human resources. The Association's effectiveness is its members. Bishop Dale J. Melczek, Chair of the Bishops' Committee on the Diaconate (1992-95), remarked that "The Association has made an enormous contribution to the success of the diaconate in our country. Most of the work of the Bishops' Committee on the Diaconate would not have been possible except for the enormous amount of time and energy committed to the various projects by members of your Association."

As part of its Strategic Plan to develop professional expertise among its members and to promote an understanding of the reinstituted diaconal ministry within the Church, the Association is committed to solicit and publish occasional research papers on the diaconate. At the invitation of the Association's Executive Board, Kenan Osborne, O.F.M., prepared this essay. He has personal knowledge and experience with the diaconate having served the diaconal communities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, as well as the faculties and teams.

Excerpt from Book:

A Dream for the Future


Plurality in ministry and of ministry should be part of our dream. All deacons do not have to do the same thing. Some men may not find the public presence required in liturgy personally comfortable. All deacons may not be good homilists. Perhaps this is the reason why today here and there, but not often, there is a diaconal ministry to the needy, the homeless, the imprisoned, etc. This kind of diaconal ministry should not be considered as the abnormal, with the normal being the liturgical ministry. Rather, it should be placed very much in the center of a renewed theology of deacon. A strong presence of deacons in these areas of our society would make the church much more meaningful to our wider communities. The gospel would be seen at work on the streets and in the byways.

The future of the diaconate depends deeply on how we dream today. At the heart of our dreaming we must return to the place with which this essay began, namely, a consideration of the Deacon Jesus whom we find in the New Testament. His form of diakonia service is the motive for all ministry in the church. To meditate deeply on the gospel passage, "I have not come to be served, but to serve," remains the heart of all ministry, and the towel which Jesus used to wash the feet of his disciples remains the icon of all ministry.

Table of Contents:

The Diaconate of the Christian Church: Its History and Theology
The Term, Deacon and its Cognates in the New Testament
Deacons in the Non-canonical Data up to 200: A Preliminary Consideration
References to the Deacon from 100 to 200
The Diaconate in Its Golden Age 200 to 400
A Dream for the Future