Archdiocese ordains five married men as deacons in historic first
FIVE married men have made history by being the first to be ordained deacons in the ancient see of St Patrick.
Welcoming them into ministry, the Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady described it as an occasion of "great joy" for the Archdiocese of Armagh.
Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Eamon Martin, described the five as bridge builders between the laity, priests and bishops.
One deacon, 46-year-old John Taaffe from Drogheda, has three children ranging in age from nine to 21, and he is also a grandfather of one-year-old Jordan. He currently works as the national coordinator of the Irish Bishops' Drug Initiative.
Martin Barlow (45) from the Parish of Drumcree in Portadown is married to Ursula, and has two sons – Shea, who starts university next week and Oisin, who is in secondary school.
The other deacons are Benignus Ndubuisi from Dundalk, Andy Hegarty from Cookstown and David Durrigan from Tralee.
The five begin their ministry after four years of study.
From now on the deacons will be referred to as 'Rev Mr' and they will serve on a part-time basis in their appointed parishes, assisting with baptisms and funerals at the weekends and some administrative duties during the week. Deacons cannot celebrate Mass or hear confessions.
The first ever permanent deacons, who are either lay single or married men, to be ordained by the Irish church began ministry in the archdiocese of Dublin in 2011.