August 28, 2006
At his ordination, an Archdiocesan deacon places himself at service to the particular church of the Archdiocese and in full obedience to its chief pastor, the Archbishop. For those deacons who are married, this commitment to ordained service is made in the context of marriage and family life. For those who work, outside the Church, this commitment to service is made in the context of their career, professional life or employment. To ensure that his diaconal assignments do meet archdiocesan needs, benefit the people to whom he is sent, and enrich the deacon himself, while being responsible to his family and employment contexts, the Archbishop listens to the advice and recommendations of the Deacon Personnel Board.
The Board consists of both appointed and elected members. Please refer to Section 20 of the Policies and Procedures Handbook for the Life and Ministry of Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, for more information. The Board meets as at least quarterly and as regularly as the demands of the Archdiocese dictate. Deacons who wish to speak to the Board as a group need only contact one of the members of the Board and he will arrange it. Members of the Board welcome deacons contacting them personally.
The Archbishop consults with the Board on the following matters:
- The initial assignment and transfer of deacons;
- The assignment of deacons in special archdiocesan ministries and extern deacons; and.
- The progress of deacons in their assignments or concerning problems as they occur and merit the attention of the Board; and
In order for the Board to fulfill its purpose in the most cooperative and fraternal manner, the following guidelines have been developed in consultation with the Presbyteral Council and have received the Archbishop’s approval. In all assignments the needs of the Archdiocese, the needs of a particular parish, the ministerial capacity of the deacon, the context of his marriage and family life and the circumstances of his employment or career will be given due consideration. The needs of the Archdiocese also must be considered and at times this will take precedent over other considerations. Archdiocesan deacons are aware that ordination placed them at the service of the archbishop and the archdiocesan Church.
- TENURE AND PASTORAL ASSIGNMENTS
Deacons are ordained to serve the needs of the Archdiocese. Importance is given to providing a stable assignment. Since the needs of the Archdiocese must always be considered, there is no set term of assignment for either parochial or archdiocesan ministry assignments. Deacons may be given opportunities to serve in a variety of parochial settings to enable them to better meet the needs of the archdiocesan Church based upon their individual skills, charisms and personal context.
- ANNOUNCING AVAILABILITY FOR TRANSFER
Any deacon who wishes to be considered for an assignment, or any other vacancy that may occur, should make his desires know in writing to the Deacon Personnel Board.
- ASSIGNMENTS AND REASSIGNMENTS
The policies governing the process of recommending new assignments and transfers are detailed in the Policies and Procedures Handbook, sections 25-27.
Section 25. Assignments
The primary objective in the assignment of permanent deacons will be to meet the needs of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, as determined by the Archbishop. Assignments of deacons in the Archdiocese are made by the Archbishop by way of a decree of appointment that will state with some specificity the deacon’s duties and responsibilities (NDFML #44). Deacons may be assigned either to (1) parish ministry, or to (2) an archdiocesan or special non-parochial ministry that may include a limited parochial assignment in order to provide the deacon with a community for liturgical service. Deacons will be expected to provide ministerial services in accordance with the provisions of the Archbishop’s decree of appointment.
The Deacon Personnel Board will make recommendations for assignments and transfers to the Archbishop who, according to his assessment of archdiocesan need, will confirm or make another assignment by his decree of appointment.
Deacons receive a canonical assignment that is binding until a new canonical assignment is made by decree of the Archbishop. Pastors cannot remove a deacon from a canonical assignment nor may deacons remove themselves from a canonical assignment. Deacons may not negotiate new assignments or move from their parishes without reassignment or direction by the Archbishop or the Director of the Permanent Diaconate. The change of a canonical assignment requires the action and decree of the ordinary of the diocese. (Canons 273 and 274)
All deacons in parochial ministry and those in special archdiocesan ministries will have a priest supervisor. As a norm, the priest supervisor will be the pastor of the parish to whom the deacon is assigned. Secondarily, deacons with archdiocesan or non-parochial ministries may be assigned to a priest supervisor who is in direct contact with them in the special ministry.
In rare cases, a deacon may have an assignment to an archdiocesan ministry that has a liturgical community. In this case, if the Archbishop so desires, the deacon will be supervised by the priest who leads the community.
Section 26. Decrees of Appointment
Decrees of appointment are required to function as a deacon in good standing in this Archdiocese. Decrees of appointment will be prepared for the Archbishop’s approval and signature by the Director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate. In preparing decrees of appointment the Director will consult with the current and proposed pastor or supervisor of the deacon and with the deacon himself. The wife of a married deacon is to be kept duly informed of developments in the assignment process, and the family, employment and personal circumstances of the deacon must always be given significant consideration. “Until a decree of appointment is signed by the Archbishop and publicly announced, all parties are bound by confidentiality.” (NDFLM #44)
Section 27. Reassignments
The process of a reassignment can be initiated by a deacon, his pastor or supervisor, the Deacon Personnel Board or the ordinary. When a pastor, a supervisor or a deacon initiates the procedures for a transfer, it is highly recommended that a request for reassignment be presented to the Director by the deacon. The reassignment request will include the reasons for the request, as well as the deacon’s preferences for an assignment, either as to location or as to type of ministry, or both. The Director shall consult with the deacon’s current pastor or supervisor, the Deacon Personnel Board and the proposed receiving pastor. If the reassignment request appears to pose no significant personnel, pastoral or personal issues for any relevant parties, the proposed reassignment will be presented to the Archbishop for final approval and issuance of a new decree of appointment.
A request for reassignment initiated by the deacon’s current pastor or supervisor due to concerns about the performance of the deacon’s ministry shall be presented to the Director of the Permanent Diaconate or to the Archbishop and will include the reason for the request. The Director will consult with the deacon whose reassignment has been requested and the pastor to discuss any opportunities to reconcile the current situation in order to continue the assignment. Once the two parties have been consulted and if the current situation cannot be reconciled, the Director will then request a recommendation for reassignment from the Deacon Personnel Board at its next regular meeting or will recommend a specific assignment directly to the Archbishop. The Archbishop may resolve the issue or direct that the matter be presented to the Deacon Personnel Board.
The Deacon Personnel Board or the Archbishop assessing the needs of the Archdiocese can initiate the procedures for a transfer. In light of a specific archdiocesan need that might include a parochial ministry or special ministry, the Deacon Personnel Board or the Archbishop can instruct the Director of the Permanent Diaconate to inform and consult with the deacon and his pastor or supervisor. The Deacon Personnel Board, after this consultation and review of circumstances, will make a final recommendation for reassignment to the ordinary for his approval.
The consultations with deacons, pastors or supervisors as discussed in this section will be conducted by the Director of the Permanent Diaconate or his designees (assistant directors or members of the Deacon Personnel Board).
Regardless of the reason for a reassignment, significant consideration shall be given to the personal circumstances of the deacon in any reassignment. Recognizing that deacons will have family, work, social and community commitments to consider, the Deacon Personnel Board will develop guidelines to be used in the reassignment process including restrictions on the distance between a deacon’s home and a parochial or special assignment. See Appendix D “Guidelines for Reassignment.”
The Board may seek the advice of the Vicars (Episcopal, Forane, Ethnic) when considering certain appointments
It is the policy of the Board to consult, whether by phone or in person, with all parties involved in a transfer or new assignment. .
The Board will consult the following:
- Deacons prior to their first assignment;
- Newly ordained deacons one year after their first assignment. The purpose of this consultation is to evaluate the assignment and to give encouragement to the newly ordained;
- Every five years after ordination; and
- Deacons requesting or applying for a transfer.
The Board further recommends that pastors consult with deacons before the deacon is assigned to his parish.
- RETIREMENT OF DEACONS
- Section 70 of the Policies and Procedure Handbook address retirement as follows:
Upon their 70th birthday, deacons are automatically retired from their canonical assignment and their diaconal status is changed from active to retired. The procedures to be followed, and/or circumstances other than age that would justify retirement, shall be the same for deacons as for priests of this Archdiocese. In addition, however, significant family or work-related matters beyond the deacon’s control, and which can reasonably be expected to inhibit the ability of the deacon to exercise any diaconal ministry, may justify retirement. Deacons will receive notice in writing from the Archbishop granting them retirement status.
Unless explicitly revoked or modified, faculties remain in effect after retirement. A retired deacon is released from active ministry only, and not from the Order of Deacons. Accordingly, he and his wife remain welcome to participate in liturgical celebrations and archdiocesan functions.
Retired deacons are not bound to obligations of continuing education, on-going participation in safe environment programs, annual retreats and annual evaluations. At the same time, retired deacons of the Archdiocese can participate in the exercise of their diaconal faculties at a parish with the specific delegation of the pastor.
- Deacons in special ministry are subject to the same retirement policy.
- ASSIGNMENT OF NEWLY ORDAINED DEACONS
The Board believes that the first assignment of a deacon is very crucial and intends to make every effort to recommend assignments for new deacons to parishes or special ministries where they can receive the needed support and mentoring.
- ARCHDIOCESAN APPOINTMENTS
- When the Archbishop requests it, the Board will make recommendations concerning certain Archdiocesan posts.
- Deacons interested in Archdiocesan work should make their interest known by writing to the Board, whenever they meet with the Board or at their convenience.
- DEACONS SEEKING ASSIGNMENT INCARDINARION AND/OR EXCARDINATION IN THE ARCHDIOCESE
Policies governing temporary transfers in or out of the archdiocese and the process of incardination or excardination of deacons are addressed in Sections 28 – 30 of the Policies and Procedures Handbook.
- The Archbishop may ask that deacons who seek assignment and/or incardination in this Archdiocese will be interviewed by this Board. This Board should be supplied with an overview of the deacon’s prior assignments and his qualifications and capabilities.
- The Board will make its recommendations to the Archbishop.
- Deacons accepted for work in the Archdiocese should receive a copy of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Manual and the Policies and Procedures Handbook
For the Permanent Diaconate of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
- STAFFING ETHNIC PARISHES
The Board’s first priority in making assignments is to match the talents and charisms of the deacon to be assigned with the needs of a parish community or a special archdiocesan ministry. A deacon is assigned to a parish situation who can best address these needs and offer the kind of service and leadership that fulfills the demands of the position. Language and cultural skills will be given serious consideration in determining assignments. Those deacons not proficient in English should become proficient as soon as possible.
The members of this Board recognize the great trust given to them by the Archbishop and their fellow deacons whether by election or appointment. With this in mind, Board members will ensure confidentiality concerning all matters entrusted to them by the Archbishop and clergy of this Archdiocese.
In light of the above the board states the following:
- Board members will keep confidential all matters discussed by the Board.
- Deacons of the Archdiocese are asked not to approach Board members with questions that relate to matters of confidential nature.
- If deacons participate with the Board in a discussion of a serious nature, they are to consider such discussion confidential.
STRUCTURE OF THE DEACON PERSONNEL BOARD
The Deacon Personnel Board exists to assist the Director of the Permanent Diaconate in the support of deacons in ministry and to advise the Archbishop regarding recommended assignments of deacons throughout the Archdiocese. This Board is intended to work in tandem with the Priest Personnel Board to ensure the most effective distribution of diaconate ministry throughout the Archdiocese. The Deacon Personnel Board might be asked to address any issues related to personnel policies related to the diaconate, or the members might be asked to advise the Deacon Community Board in the development of specific policies. Additional roles of the Deacon Personnel Board will include the periodic evaluation of deacons and their assignments, and the mentoring of those who are in the first three years of ordained ministry as deacons. Finally, the Deacon Personnel Board will serve as a clearinghouse for all parishes and institutions who are seeking applications for full- or part-time employment of a deacon in a specific parish role or ministry such as parish life coordinator, pastoral associate or parish administrator.
- Membership: The Deacon Personnel Board shall be comprised of the following:
- one member elected from the deacons serving in each of the vicariates;
- the chair of the Deacon Personnel Board as appointed by the Archbishop;
- one pastor or priest of the Archdiocese appointed by the Archbishop;
- ex officio, the Assistant Director(s);
- ex officio, the Director; and
- ex officio, the Director of the Secretariat for Clergy Formation.
- Officers: The Deacon Personnel Board will be chaired by a cleric appointed by the Archbishop. This cleric could be a priest or bishop who chairs the Priest Personnel Board. This will assure a continuity related to the assignment and circumstances of priests and deacons in the Archdiocese. The chairperson of the Deacon Personnel Board will serve for as long as the Archbishop desires.
- Nominations and elections: Nominations for the elected members of the Board will be gathered from the deacons who serve in each vicariate. All (1) incardinated deacons (2) with active status (3) residing in the Archdiocese will be qualified to be nominated and to vote in elections for the Deacon Personnel Board.
The election of Deacon Personnel Board representatives from the vicariates will take place by e-mail and regular mail.
- Terms of Office: Terms of office for the Deacon Personnel Board members will be for three years with the possible reelection to a second term. At the end of two-terms, the member must rotate off the Deacon Personnel Board for three years.
- Vacancies: In the event that a vacancy occurs among the elected members, a new member will be appointed by the Archbishop in the affected constituency within two months. The member thus appointed shall serve only for the remainder of the term of the vacating member, but may be reelected for two additional consecutive terms.
- Removal from Office: If a Personnel Board member misses three meetings in one year, the Board may request that the Archbishop replace him.
- Meetings: It is anticipated that the Deacon Personnel Board would meet quarterly to review assignments, address problems and make recommendations to the Archbishop for assignments or changes. The chair of the Deacon Personnel Board and the Director of the Permanent Diaconate could cancel a quarterly meeting if they judge that there is not sufficient business to warrant a meeting. Quorums will consist of 50% +1 of the members of the Personnel Board.
- Voting and Consensus: The Personnel Board will operate utilizing the principles of discernment and consensus.
- Relation to Episcopal Vicars: The elected vicariate representatives on the Deacon Personnel Board will work closely with the Episcopal Vicar in their vicariate in order to understand and respond to the specific needs of the vicariate.
- Personnel Interviews: The members of the Deacon Personnel Board will interview all deacons regarding their assignments and ministry at least once every five years and as personnel assessments are required in special circumstances. Upon a request for reassignment, a personnel interview with the deacon is mandatory. Personnel interviews may be conducted more frequently if deemed necessary or appropriate by the Archbishop, the Director of the Permanent Diaconate or the Deacon Personnel Board.
- Recommendations: The Deacon Personnel Board will make recommendations for assignments and transfers to the Archbishop who, according to his assessment of archdiocesan need, will confirm or make another assignment by decree of appointment.
ROTATION OF ELECTED DEACON PERSONNEL BOARD MEMBERS
In order to maintain continuity and a sequential rotation of elected board members, the elected members of the Deacon Personnel will serve with the following rotation of terms until such time as a full three-year term of office is achieved for all elected board members.
The representative of the Northern Vicariate will serve for one year with the election for the Northern Vicariate taking place in the summer of 2007. The representative elected at that time will serve for three years.
The representative of the Central Vicariate will serve for two years with the election for the Central Vicariate taking place in the summer of 2008. The representative elected at that time will serve for three years.
The representatives of the Southern and Western vicariates will serve for three years with the election for Southern and Western Vicariates taking place in the summer of 2009.
By the election of the summer of 2009, all elected members will be serving full three year terms on the basis of the following rotation:
Northern Vicariate 2007 election + 3 years with next election 2010;
Central Vicariate 2008 election + 3 years with next election 2011; and
Southern and Western Vicariates 2009 election + 3 years with next election 2012.
Elections for the Northern Vicariate representative will be held in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, etc. Elections for the Central Vicariate representative will be help in 2011, 2014, 2017, etc. Elections for the Southern and Western Vicariate representatives will be held in 2012, 2015, 2018, etc.
CONSULTATION BETWEEN PASTOR AND DEACON
Before a deacon is appointed to a new parish, it is well that he and the pastor of that parish get together to discuss the deacon’s relationship with the parish and with the pastor. The result of this discussion will be one of the factors in the appointment.
The following ideas are offered as some of the areas that a pastor and a deacon might discuss. Needless to say it is presumed that this discussion will be carried on with both the pastor and deacon expressing the greatest charity and concern. When appropriate the deacon’s wife should be included in at least part of this consultation process.
- First and foremost, the deacon needs to have some idea of the parish he is about to serve. It would be helpful if the pastor would discuss or offer a description of the parish that he thinks could be helpful to the deacon. This description could include: number of families, different types of nationalities, practices or devotions unique to the parish, attitude of the people in the liturgy and social ministry, etc.
- Another important area of discussion would be the style of leadership the pastor exercises in the parish and how the pastor sees the deacon fitting into ministries in the parish in light of that style of leadership. In other words, what does it mean when the pastor says that the deacon is “in charge” of a given ministry.
- The pastor and deacon should discuss the general responsibilities of the deacon and how that helps to meet the needs of the parish. What does the pastor expect of the deacon and vice-versa? Is there a hospital or retirement home that the priests are expected to serve? What about the sick or shut-ins, how are they served? How are night calls handled? What is the deacon’s role with the parish council, finance council and other established parish organizations?
- What is relationship to the spouses of other deacons? If the deacon is to be the only married deacon, how does the pastor expect to relate to the wife and family of the deacon?
- What are the responsibilities of the other members of the parish staff? How does the pastor see the deacon working with the other members of the staff? Are there specific channels the deacon should use in making suggestions to members of the parish staff?
- A list of questions that might be discussed follows:
- Who or what group is responsible for the planning for the liturgical celebrations of the parish? What role does the deacon play in liturgical planning and preparation?
- What kind of preaching schedule is followed in the parish, i.e. rotation? How often are deacons expected to preach?
- Are other deacons assigned to the parish and what are their ministries in the parish, i.e. social justice, liturgical, marriage preparations, annulments, etc.?
- What forms of sacramental preparation are being practiced in the parish and what is the role of the deacon in them, i.e. Baptismal preparation, marriage preparation, and RCIA? How does the parish deal with marriage preparation and assignment of weddings, baptisms, etc.?
- How does the parish deal with vigils and funerals? If the people don’t ask for a certain priest, who takes the ceremony? How are deacons assigned?
- How are the needy assisted? What are the social action programs in the parish and what part do the deacons have in them?
- How are days off and vacations worked out?
- A regular meeting time should be established where the pastor and the deacon could have an opportunity to clarify expectations each might have and differences that have risen. This meeting is apart from the regular staff meetings.
- Other areas of discussion might be parish and ministerial life: access to the rectory and offices, use of keys, mileage, education and retreat expenses, access to clerical assistance and any other special circumstances.
GUIDELINES FOR CONCERNING THE ASSIGNMENT AND REASSINGMENT OF DEACONS
- When recommending the assignment of a deacon to a parish or ministry other than that of his home parish, the following points should be considered. As a general rule, parochial transfers should be made within deaneries or adjoining parishes. At times archdiocesan need may require deacons to be assigned to parishes or special ministries that are greater distances from home. The following considerations should be reviewed on a case by case basis as there are no universal policies governing these issues – except that of meeting the archdiocesan need while respecting the person and circumstances of the deacon.
- Family considerations:
- Age of children:
- Involvement of the family in the parish/parish school:
- Special needs of the family members:
- Health of the marriage:
- Employment considerations:
- The geography of home, parish and workplace:
- Type of work and expectations regarding time:
- Impact on job expectations
- Social and community considerations:
- Impact on the community served
- General considerations:
- How will a change of assignment impact the deacon?
- What additional time will be required for travel to the new assignment?
- Are there any negative implications to the transfer that outweigh the benefits?