Today we were delighted to welcome Bishop Declan to Downside Abbey for the Ordination of Dom John to the Diaconate. The Diaconate is the final stage before ordination to the priesthood. This means that Dom John will proclaim the Gospel at Mass, distribute Holy Communion and purify the chalices and paten after Mass. He is also able to baptise, witness marriages and do funerals (without a Mass). Since he will be returning to Rome to continue his studies in Monastic Theology we will not benefit as much from the presence of a Deacon, but it is a great joy to see one of our community receive this order.

The Mass was a joyful occasion with the chant sung by the monastic community and the organ played by Nigel Kerry, a friend of the community. Although some elements are similar to the Solemn Profession ritual (e.g. promise of obedience to the Abbot, lying prostrate during the Litany of the Saints, receiving of a new garment – in this case the stole and dalmatic) this is quite different, since the diaconate is a ministry to be exercised for the whole Church in the sacrament of Holy Orders, and as such it is the first step in ‘major orders’, whereby Dom John is now a cleric, and this is why the Bishop comes to administer this sacrament.

We wish Dom John great joy in his diaconate ministry and look forward to ordination to the priesthood in due course. You can find out more about a monastic vocation here.