Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem 29-31: Study, Obedience, Apparel

As we hit the home stretch of SDO, we pick up some briefer thoughts on other topics. First, deacons are urged to continuing education (as it’s called today). Their task is less apologetics and more directed to building up the faith of others in the Church:

29. Deacons are not to neglect studies, particularly the sacred ones; let them read assiduously the sacred books of the Scripture; let them devote themselves to ecclesiastical studies in such a way that they can correctly explain Catholic teaching to the rest and become daily more capable of instructing and strengthening the minds of the faithful.

Deacons should meet:

For this purpose, let the deacons be called to meetings to he held at specified times at which problems regarding their life and the sacred ministry are treated.

Deacons have a special relationship with the bishop. This is emphasized a bit more in some dioceses than others, I see.

30. Because of the special character of the ministry entrusted to them they are bound to show reverence and obedience to the bishop; the bishops, however, should in the Lord highly esteem these ministers of the people of God and love them with the love of a father. If for a just cause a deacon lives for a time outside his own diocese he should willingly submit to the supervision and authority of the local Ordinary in those matters which pertain to the duties and functions of the diaconal state.

As for clothing, go with the local flow:

31. In the matter of wearing apparel the local custom will have to be observed according to the norms set down by the episcopal conference.

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem 29-31: Study, Obedience, Apparel

  1. Deacon Eric says:

    Regarding the dress of deacons, the various diocese have different rules. In our archdiocese, some of the deacons very much want to wear the collar, but our local norms don’t allow that. As far as I am concerned, I have no desire to wear a collar, although there have been occasions where I have come to think it would be appropriate.

    These are (1) when participating in public actions on behalf of the poor and oppressed, such as marches, where I join in but am invisible as clergy among collared Protestant ministers; (2) in prison ministry, where priests in collars are routinely let in without question while I have to justify my presence, and (3) while leading pilgrimages, where groups led by anyone with a Roman collar are let in without question, but my group is sometimes detained while I try to prove to someone that I am an ordained person leading a group of Catholics. At the Church of the Beatitudes in the Holy Land, the little Italian nun took one look at me after waving in several Roman collars and said dismissively, “Protestanti.” I had to show her my ID card from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (no doubt confirming her worst suspicions), but even then she would not permit me to lead prayers from the sanctuary.

    So I have no desire to wear the collar day-to-day (and I think there is good reason not to allow it, so that people don’t show up for their office job thusly attired), but now I do think some discretion should be allowed in limited instances.

  2. Anne says:

    The deacon at my parish wears a dalmatic at mass. He has one in every liturgical color. Deacons at other churches I have been to wear albs and stoles at liturgy. I’m curious. Anyone wear or see dalmatics for Sunday Eucharist?

  3. Liam says:

    So many places simply discarded or sold off their dalmatics and tunicles (which were required for the solemn high Mass of yore) that they remain very uncommon, though I would be pleased to see a more general revival of the dalmatic (since subdeacons don’t exist as such any more, the tunicle is less of an issue). Unfortunately in the US at least, the angled stole has connotations of either a beauty or county fair prizewinner or an ambassador….

    The Roman collar is a relatively recent development in historical terms. The development of recognizable but distinctive street vesture for deacons would be helpful for the reasons that Deacon Eric illustrates. Until such time, could I suggest: black or very dark gray jacket and slacks (or suit), with a white collared shirt and black long tie, black belt and black shoes?

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    For a view of both dalmatics and tunicles, see:

    Maybe if they were pictured on a stand-alone basis they wouldn’t look so outdated.

    I honestly don’t remember them from my pre-V2 days; but, then I spent most of those years in a small, rural parish where such things were not commonplace.

  5. Deacon Eric says:

    Hi Anne,

    I would say there has been a resurgence of the dalmatic. Most of my deacon friends wear one as a rule, and dalmatics are provided at our cathedral. I myself wear a dalmatic every Sunday except during the summer, when I have exercised my option for the stole alone because our Southern California summers have been prevailing over our air-conditioning system. Once that’s fixed, though, the dalmatic will also be worn in summer! One obstacle to the adoption of the dalmatic is that parishes usually do not pay for the deacon’s vestments. We usually have to buy our own, and dalmatics can be beyond the budget of some deacons.

  6. Deacon Eric says:

    BTW, for those in parishes without dalmatics, one solution might be to offer to buy some–or even just one nice white dalmatic for solemnities to get the ball rolling!

  7. FrMichael says:

    Parishes too cheap to buy dalmatics?

    Wish I could make a deal with my diocese: if I buy a parochial set of dalmatics and diaconal stoles, I would get a deacon assigned here.

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