Catholic Church of Montreal > Publications > Info Archives > MARCH 2016 - 35 years of dedication. A short history of the permanent diaconate in Montreal

MARCH 2016 - 35 years of dedication. A short history of the permanent diaconate in Montreal

Source : ACAM
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P Permanent deacons are familiar figures to anyone who regularly attends Mass in our diocese. It is not unusual to notice a deacon assisting the priest in the Sunday liturgy or celebrating the baptism of a child. Deacons are now serving in many parishes at the four corners of the diocese. However, many will be surprised to learn that permanent deacons have only been present in Montreal since 1981.

Significant in the life of the early church, the permanent diaconate gradually disappeared in the Western Church. It is with the Second Vatican Council, in November 1964, that the door was open to the restoration of the function of permanent deacon. As early as 1969, the Bishops of Canada requested permission to order the first deacons in the country. Rapidly, several dioceses developed formations designed to prepare candidates for this vocation. It is finally in November 1970 that Bishop Martin of Nicolet ordained the first deacon in Quebec (the second in Canada). In 1974, the dioceses of Nicolet, Quebec City and Saint-Jérôme had all ordained their first permanent deacons. Soon after, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières also followed. However, even if many requests reached the bishopric, Montreal's Church was somehow behind in comparison to other dioceses.

The Church of Montreal appeared to be more cautious. It is after all only in 1972, with the publication of the Motu proprio Ad pascendum, that Pope Paul VI established official norms concerning the sacred order of the diaconate. In Montreal, a Committee was finally formed in 1977 and 20 candidates undertook formal training for their diaconal ordination.

It is finally on the 17 March 1981 that Montreal's Archbishop Paul Grégoire ordained the first permanent deacon of our diocese in the Purification-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie parish. On that day, Mr. Roger Dubois committed himself to God and to the service of the Church through his new vocation. He was followed a few days later by Mr. Victor Boldireff and Mr. Louis-André Frégault. All three were married men and fathers. The same year, twenty-two other men would be admitted to the permanent diaconate. At its origin, the formation to the permanent diaconate lasted three years during which candidates were required to develop a pastoral project. Each candidate was then paired with a priest tutor to accompany him in his enterprise.

Thirty-five years after this milestone, thanks to the Diocesan Archives and Archbishop Gregoire's homily, it is possible to relive in part, Deacon Roger Dubois' ordination. This sermon as well as the large majority of Archbishop Gregoire's public addresses have been preserved in our fonds. The homily of Deacon Dubois' ordination is a rich text filled with biblical references. In many respects, this sermon remains relevant today. It allows us to better understand the richness of the vocation to the diaconate. Filled the Archbishop's meticulous notes, this document allows us to identify elements that he judged important and wished to emphasize.

Today, more than 60 permanent deacons are active in the diocese of Montreal. 17 men are also candidates to the diaconate. To learn more about this vocation, visit:


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