Supporting the clergy of the diocese and promoting vocations
The Vicariate for Clergy exists to promote the work of the Church in the Diocese of Plymouth through the selection, formation and support of all the clergy from recruitment to resignation from office. It aims to achieve this by;
- Affirming the presbyterate and diaconate
- Supporting the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral development of clergy
- Promoting and discerning vocations to the priesthood and diaconate
- Resourcing the sick and retired clergy
It is led by the Delegate for Clergy whose main role is;
- To co-ordinate, facilitate, and assist the work of the vicariate
- To report to the Bishop and act for him when directed.
- To collaborate with Deans, the Chapter of Canons, the Secular Clergy Fund and other Diocesan bodies.
The Vicariate comprises the following officers and members:
Delegate for Clergy
Canon Paul Cummins
Fr Ralph Candy
Ongoing clergy formation
Fr Mark Skelton
Resigned from Ecclesiastical Office
01752 236802 or 07720 823130
Director of Permanent Deacons
Fr Anthony Achunonu
Ministry to Sick: The Deans
Appointment to the Vicariate is made by the Bishop.
Diaconate.org.uk is the website of the permanent deacons of England and Wales. The website is also used by those in formation for the permanent diaconate, and those considering their vocation. It links to many pages of topical interest to deacons. There is also a forum where members may ask for and offer advice and comments on a range of issues linked to our very varied ministries as ordained members of the body of Christ. To visit the website, please click here.
What is a deacon?
A man in Holy Orders, called to be a sign of Christ the Servant.
The Church, from the apostolic age, had a threefold ministry of bishop, priest and deacon: (see Acts 6). Permanent deacons gradually disappeared from the Church towards the end of the first millennium, though the Church was aware that a part of the ministry was missing. The Second Vatican Council, following the intention of the Council of Trent, restored the diaconate. This ministry acts as a lasting, living reminder to us all of our collective calling to serve: so that the whole Church may better live out this spirituality of service, the Lord gives her a living and personal sign of his very being as servant.
What does a deacon do?
A deacon’s ministry is not what he does, but his whole life from the moment of his ordination. In particular, he has a service of the Word, of charity and of the altar.
Service of the Word
The deacon proclaims the Gospel, and may preach at Mass. He teaches the Faith, and strives to live it. He takes the good news of Christ out into the communities from which he comes. The formation process prepares him to do this.
Service of Charity
At a deacon’s ordination, the bishop prays that he will be “full of all the virtues, sincere in charity, solicitous towards the weak and poor, humble in their service, and…the image of your Son who did not come to be served but to serve.” By word and example they should work so that all the faithful in imitation of Christ may place themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters. Many deacons have a ministry in prisons, hospitals, or schools.
Service of the Altar
The deacon’s ministry has its point of departure and arrival in the Eucharist, and cannot be reduced to simple Social Service. At Mass he assists the priest at the altar and dismisses the people at the end – as well as proclaiming the gospel. He will take the Blessed Sacrament to the people, and may baptize, conduct funerals, and assist at marriages outside of Mass. In all things, he aims to support the ministry of both priest and people.
Who should apply to be a deacon?
Men who yearn to serve Christ, His Church, and those outside the Church: and who believe they may have a calling to serve within the ordained ministry. If single, they will remain celibate after ordination. If married, they would not remarry (should their wife predecease them) after ordination. They must be over 35 and under 60. They must be active members of the Church, and show commitment to service in the parish. They must be men of sound faith, frequently at Mass and at prayer.
The part time formation period normally takes about 4 years. The academic work is constructed to be possible even for those who have been out of the habit of study since their schooldays. If married, a man must have the support of their wife and be able to give sufficient time to formation and ministry without negatively impacting the lives of his family. Most are men in full time employment, and the process is designed to take that into account.
The Diaconate in Plymouth Diocese.
Director of Deacons: Father Anthony Achunonu, assisted by members of the Diaconate Team.
There are 35 permanent deacons in the diocese. Most work in parishes; some have specialist ministries, for example in prisons, hospitals and schools. Our men are trained for the diaconate on a part-time course based at St John’s Seminary at Wonersh, near Guildford.
To find out more contact the director:
Fr Anthony Achunonu
Each of us has been created by God with a purpose in mind. To discover that purpose and to live by it is the key to real happiness.
Through our baptism we all have a vocation to be missionary disciples. Within that vocation, each of us has a specific and unique vocation. For some this will be Priesthood. This is a vital call in our Church because a priest is ordained to be a sign and instrument of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, for his people and to feed them most especially with the Bread of Life in the Mass. For others, the call may be to marriage, the consecrated single life, to a life in community or the permanent diaconate.
In our Diocese we have four men in formation for priesthood. Two men are now over halfway through their formation at Allen Hall in London, including one on a placement in Jerusalem. Two men have recently begun propaedeutic studies at Valladolid. Of course, we need more, many more!
If YOU think the Lord may be stirring something in your heart, however vague that may be, the best place to start is probably having a chat with a local priest or contact the Vocations Director.
The Lord calls in many different ways, sometimes in a clear call, sometimes it is the circumstances of your life, sometimes through something someone has said to you, sometimes because you have run out of excuses!
A call to the Priesthood can come at a young age or much later in life but try as you may, it won’t go away. The Church looks for certain qualities in a man who feel called to Priesthood. Basically, these are simple:
• Faithfully living a day-to-day life as a member of the Church
• Being a man of prayer, love for the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation
• Love for God and a desire to serve Him in the Church
• A desire to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments
• An ability to relate well to others
• An openness to formation
• A love for the Church
• Willingness to embrace a celibate way of life
Parishioners – what can we do?
Please pray for vocations to the priesthood and do all you can to encourage vocations.
…praying for those men in formation for the Diocese (Allen Gonzalez, Andrius Spiridonovas, Hugo Lomax and Aaron Mansfield)
…having Eucharistic Adoration for vocations in your parish?
…pray either alone or with others the rosary for vocations?
…invite housebound parishioners to pray for vocations?
…pray especially for someone in your parish who you feel might have a vocation (and maybe drop a gentle word in their ear)?
…offer your Friday fast for vocations (or fast at another time)
A Prayer for Vocations
Loving Father, in baptism you call us to be a people of hope.
Raise up, we pray, especially for our Diocese of Plymouth
many good and holy priests.
Grant men throughout our Diocese the courage and vision needed
to shepherd and serve your people as priests.
Open up, in your love,
the hearts of all your children
that they may discern your holy will
and know your call in their lives.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For more information contact Vocations Director:
Fr Ralph Candy
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.