Presbyteral and Diaconal Ordination of Claretian missionaries on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Jul 16, 2022 (Photo by Jire Carreon)

By Bishop Pablo Virgilio David

Mar 22 2024

Let’s start with the first. There are three Orders in the Ministry of Leadership in the Church: the Episcopate, the Presbyterate, and the Diaconate. I think of the Diaconate, not as the lowest among the three ranks of the ordained ministry of leadership in the Church; I think of it rather as the core.

I therefore invite you dear candidates for this ministry to visualize the ordained ministries of the Church, not as ranks, but as layers, with the Diaconate at the very center.

Without the Diaconate at the core, both ministries of Bishops and Presbyters will become hollow or empty. We don’t stop being deacons at heart when we are raised to the orders of presbyters and bishops.

Diakonia is best translated, not as ‘service’ but as ‘servanthood’. It is an attitude or disposition that prepares a disciple of Christ for leadership and prevents him from developing the attitude of a worldly Boss who lords it over the Church.

Remember what Jesus said in reply to James and John who were aspiring for positions of power in their group? In Mark 10:43-44, he said, “It shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you must be the slave of all.”

That is why we have invented the term ‘servant-leader’. In the eyes of the world, it makes no sense because it sounds like a contradiction in terms. You see, in this world, normally, a servant does not lead, and a leader does not serve. Not so in the world of Christ, which he calls the reign of God. The two must always go together.


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