Amusing Diaconal Hijinx

Every once in a while you will encounter the bizarre practice of listing the names of wives of permanent (and married) deacons together with the names of their clerical husbands.  You might also see the wives troop into a church in procession alongside their deacon-husbands.


That gives in the impression that wives somehow share in their husband’s diaconal character, even if they do support their husband’s diaconal ministry in their role as spouse.

Recently Deacon Greg Kandra as his blog (alas, with Patheos) had a piece about this – to wit:

An alert reader—thank you, Frank Weathers—pointed this out to me, from a parish in California:
Holy Name of Mary Parish Staff:

Fr. Rich Danyluk, SS.CC.
Marv and Sharon Estey
Mario and Irene Lopez, Spanish Ministry
Jose and Maria Guadamuz, Spanish Ministry
Al and Rita Austin


Go there for links and comments.

One of my alert readers – thanks JL – sent me the link to a Facebook discussion of the same post and issue.



Amusing, indeed.  And not the least that our old pal Phyllis joined the fun.  She continues, it seems, her starry-eyed, quixotic push for the ordination of women.

I look forward to a document from the Holy See which could, as a poetic resonance, be entitled Ordinatio diaconalis.  It could have a paragraph which explains the obligation of clerical continence.

Oh, please let such a document be issued during the pontificate of Pope Francis!

Moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Allan S. says:

    I recall making an inquiry of my former Diocese about formation for the Permanent Diaconate, and it rapidly became clear that candidates’ wives were expected to participate in virtually all facets of formation – retreats, classes, academic work – everything. It was pretty clear that this was a couples thing, apparently to ensure that the candidate for Deacon had the support of his wife (I would have thought a form or something could be used). I bailed.

  2. APX says:

    We used to run into the same thing at our Chrism Mass when three of the deacons and their wives would bring up each of the oils and they’d be listed on the worship booklet as “Deacons of the Oil” and I was always left with the same feeling.

  3. benedetta says:

    How about Deacon and Deaconess? Like royalty! Sometimes when I see all the crew members for this morning’s Mass printed up faithfully in bulletin, broken down by duty, station and sector, I wonder whether we ought all have our names printed up, like from last week’s, because, we are church even if we are passively particifying by faithfully listening to all that is told to us, attempting to sing, more or less, whatever is on offer, prayer (maybe?), making quality eye contact and smiling back to our EMHC…do we not get some credit, for just showing up? I suppose not. We are only just showing up. Regardless of whatever theology, modernist, neo con, or traditional, apparently…One sees in some of the very old churches still from yesteryear the little card screwed into the pew “Mr. and Mrs. Low Key” etc…5 persons…or whatever it may be, at least they received some acknowledgement for being present yes? Still it will come down to the issue that this parish encountered, what to call the people under role or heading when they list them? Communicants? No I guess that would not work. Well probably it would work fine in some places. Um, I don’t know, Pew Sitters? How about Attendees?

  4. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Of course, the deacon’s wife or priest’s wife does have a sort of office in the Eastern side of things. But this is just weird and overly cutesy at the same time.

    It’s not wrong to acknowledge that deacons’ wives will naturally help them out. But it’s wrong to push this sort of pseudo-official, pseudo-clerical stuff. It’s clericalism of the worse kind, obviously dismissive of the contributions of deacons’ wives as laywomen and of all lay Catholics. If you have to be attached to a cleric to count as a somebody on a program or at a Mass, and if all your status is sucking off his, the obvious lesson to the people in the pews is that all layfolk are merely faceless minions and walking ATMs.

    [Just because Easterners do something, doesn’t mean that we Latins have to.]

  5. TWF says:

    That is in fact an ancient practice. The wife of a deacon was often given the honorary title of deaconess. The wife of a priest was often given the honorary title of presbytera. [True dat. This confuses pretty much all of the proponents of women’s ordination. Look at how they go crazy with the mosaic in the St. Zeno chapel in Rome, wherein the mother of Pope Pascal is called “episkopa” … because she’s his mother, not because she’s a bishop. But, no, the wymynpriest types go to the zoo.] The latter at least, and perhaps the former, is still practiced by Greek Orthodox and Catholics. It does not imply an ordination of any sort- it is as you said more akin to royalty where the wife of a king is a queen even if she doesn’t legally reign or share the kingly character.

    [Ancient practice or not, it is a practice which, in this time of deep confusion, doesn’t need to be revived.]

  6. [True dat. This confuses pretty much all of the proponents of women’s ordination. Look at how they go crazy with the mosaic in the St. Zeno chapel in Rome, wherein the mother of Pope Pascal is called “episkopa” … because she’s his mother, not because she’s a bishop. But, no, the wymynpriest types go to the zoo.]-Fr. Z

    I really do wonder why there is so much confusion over the honorary titles like presbytera among people who think women can be ordained. Is there really that much confusion. Surely it is not that difficult to understand. Do they call into question whether or not women were ever ordained at some point in history or that they can be ordained in the future just because of these honorary titles? Perhaps this is the reason people of the same ilk have so much trouble with the word ineffable.

    While I think listing the wives’ names in the bulletin and processing down the aisle with their husbands is simply unnecessary and a little silly, I would not omit an honorary title to someone because some mislead soul is trying to use it to advance their own unholy agenda.

  7. benedetta says:

    That’s rather interesting, Fr. Z, that an ancient practice would be to honor the mother of a pope? Agree though, the times as they are now cannot handle that, not remotely. The clarity of such an honor is now disfigured and obscured.

  8. WmHesch says:

    When I saw the headline, I was hoping for another Deacon Sandy anecdote! :)

  9. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    As an Eastern priest it is true that wives of clerics in major orders have honorary titles, and many also graduate from theology schools in the old country that have tracts specifically designated for them and the role they will play in their husband’s ministry. That said wymn priest wannabees don’t want to be a cleric’s wife as that would be beneath their dignity.

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    I can understand that the wife a prospective deacon should receive some formation and understand the important role he is assuming as a member of the clergy so that she may give her assent to his service which affects their marriage. That said, deacons’ wives do not “share” the ministry. They do have an important ministry – i.e. support of the deacon’s work, a separate but vital mission of its own.

  11. Athelstan says:

    Kudos to Deacon Greg for using his virtual bully pulpits to bring correction to this . . . ill-conceived representation of the diaconate.

  12. SaintJude6 says:

    Has anyone NOT run across the deacon’s wife who acts as though she went through formation and was ordained? It’s like we now have the problems of the protestant “minister’s wives.” I have to say that one of the great parts of the EF parish is that you don’t have all the people who want to play priest or priestess staking out their turf.

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