independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Laymen to officiate at baptisms, weddings, funerals

CATHOLIC couples will have an opportunity to wed in church with married laymen officiating instead of priests.

Non-clerics will also conduct baptisms and funerals.

The new "hatch, match and dispatch" powers will be given to six married men in the Diocese of Elphin at Sligo Cathedral tomorrow.

They will be ordained permanent deacons, the first in the diocese for 1,500 years.

Eight permanent deacons have recently been ordained in Dublin, while six other dioceses have men training.

The office of permanent deacon was a feature of the early church, but it fell by the wayside. It was restored 50 years ago by the Second Vatican Council.

Workload

Irish bishops only decided to restore it in recent years, and in 2009 appointed a national training authority.

Individual dioceses are only now beginning to introduce permanent deacons to help priests with their workload.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Ireland said there was also a desire among congregations for the reintroduction of the diaconate as "a very specific vocation".

The new permanent deacons in Elphin will be ordained by Bishop Christopher Jones in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. They are Wando Araujo, William Gacquin, Damien Kearns, Frank McGuinness, David Muldowney and Seamus Talbot.

A spokesman for the bishop said: "They will continue in their chosen professions and minister part-time."

Irish Independent

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