ASK FATHER: Latin Instituted Acolytes in Eastern liturgies

From a reader…


I have two Questions concerning the liturgical role of instituted acolytes in the Eastern Rites:

1) May a man who has been instituted as an acolyte according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite vest and act as a subdeacon in an Eastern Rite Liturgy?

2) Would an instituted acolyte be considered as already having been ordained as a subdeacon in the Eastern Rite Churches or would he have to be ordained a subdeacon in the Eastern Rite before he could function as a subdeacon in the Divine Liturgy?

I asked a priest friend about this, who in turn did some consultation.  Team work!

This is what I received:

I consulted a knowledgeable Eastern friend of mine, Adam DeVille. Adam says, “Usually, yes, though there is nothing formal about this and it would likely depend almost entirely on the discretion of the pastor/main celebrant. Likely, however, he would not in fact vest as a subdeacon (with an orarion or “stole”) but as a simple acolyte (sticharion/dalmatic and no orarion), but even here there would be some variation – Greeks regularly dress up 6-year-old altar boys in the same two vestments as ordained adult subdeacons!
Since 1972, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, acolytes are no longer ordained, but rather “instituted.” Therefore, a Latin man, who has been instituted as an acolyte, who then transfers to an Eastern ritual Church and seeks holy orders, would have to be ordained in that ritual Church to the minor orders.

If a Latin man had received ordination to the minor orders, in one of the religious communities entrusted to the Ecclesia Dei commission, for example, he would not have to be re-ordained in those orders in the Eastern Church.

All these, and many more questions are answered in a forthcoming book, The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology, particularly the chapter on the Sacrament of Orders by Adam DeVille.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Even in the Latin church there is variation. Being there is no binding legislation to the contrary, some instituted acolytes serving as subdeacon wear the maniple. Others take the 1994 PCED letter more strictly so they don’t wear it.

  2. Auggie says:

    Fr. Z, thank you for discussing the Eastern Rite on your blog. Many promoters of a return to Beauty in the Church often overlook the exquisite majesty that is found in the Eastern Rite.

  3. Gaetano says:

    Thank you for featuring this, as I have had the same question.

    As to vestments, if we are consistent with your previous Latin/Eastern posts, a Latin Catholic instituted acolyte would vest in a Latin Rite tunicle when serving at an Eastern Catholic Mass.

  4. NoraLee9 says:

    Bring back the Minor Orders!

Comments are closed.