Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles

Address: 1021 S. 10th St., St. Louis, MO 63104
Tel.: 314.231.1021
Fax.: 314.231.1418

Office of Ministries

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A. Introduction

  • In keeping with the ancient traditions of the Early Church, where devout men of faith were consecrated to the service of the Church, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, at the discretion of the Eparchial Bishop and needs of the community, will ordain qualified men to the Order of the Diaconate and Subdiaconate.
  • Deacons and subdeacons should be men of strong faith, demonstrated leadership, maturity, and possessed of a strong desire to serve the People of God. Moreover, they should have exemplified personal integrity in their spiritual, moral, family, social, occupational and ecclesiastical life.
  • The Office of Ministries was created to provide an environment in which a candidate for the subdiaconate or deaconate can grow to that unique quality intended for him by God. The Office seeks to assure the integration of the academic, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of preparation necessary for a permanent commitment to ordained ministry. It seeks to assure the continuation of education and the development of service on the part of the permanent deacon and the subdeacon.

B. Office of the Director

  • The Office of Ministries serves as an extension of the Bishop. The director is appointed by the Eparchial Bishop. All decisions are advisory and depend on the approval of the Eparchial Bishop. The Office of Ministries may be called upon to execute the decisions of the Bishop in matters of discipline.
  • The responsibilities of the Director include:
    • Promoting awareness of the meaning of the permanent diaconate, subdiaconate, and the minor orders of cantor and lector;
    • Recruiting and screening applicants, and approving training programs for candidates;
    • Providing guidelines for the training of candidates where programs are not available;
    • Approving/providing programs of continuing education, workshops, seminars, retreats, etc., for candidates, subdeacons, deacons, and their wives;
    • Recommending candidates to the Bishop for ordination.
    • Reviewing the ministry of deacons and subdeacons;
    • Attending meetings, conventions, etc., appropriate to the Office;
    • Planning the budget for the Office of Ministries;
    • Being ultimately responsible for the coordination of all phases of the formation and continued education programs for deacons and subdeacons.

C. Subdeacon Candidates

  • To be accepted as a candidate for the subdiaconate:
    • A man must be at least thirty (30) years old and settled in his work and/or family responsibilities.
    • The applicant must have the support and approval of his wife and family, if married, as well as his pastor and parish community.
  • The application process begins when the man submits an application and the following documents to the Director along with:
    • Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist and Marriage Certificates.
    • Transcripts of academic achievement.
    • A doctor’s report regarding general health.
    • Psychological and/or personality evaluations. (The Director of the Office of Ministries will arrange for his evaluation to be done in the local area upon completion and return of the application.)
    • Letters of recommendation from his pastor, another priest or religious; an employer or fellow professional, and three fellow parishioners.
    • Wife’s written statement (if applicable) giving full approval of husband’s application and expressing her willingness to participate in aspects of the program.
    • A written biography briefly describing the family and religious background, as well as present family life and environment.
    • A recent photograph (including wife and children.)
    • Other documents or records may be specifically requested at a later date.
  • Upon receipt of all pertinent information and documentation, the Director of the Office of Ministries reviews the application and submits his recommendation to the Eparchial Bishop, who will make the final decision regarding acceptance.
    • The admission process may take six months after reception of all the necessary documentation.
    • Candidates are not accepted into the formation program on a probationary basis.
    • Acceptance into or completion of the formation program does not guarantee ordination.
  • The spiritual formation of the candidate is at the heart of this two-year program of preparation. The spiritual aspect is two-fold: liturgical and personal.
    • The candidate is asked to be personally involved with the liturgical life of the parish during his formation program in a way that enhances his own understanding and appreciation of the Maronite liturgical tradition. It is suggested that he prepares himself before each worship service by understanding the theme, liturgical cycle, and the reading(s) of the particular celebration. This can be achieved through his own reading and through study of the Liturgy. The assistance and support of the pastor is also very important in this aspect.
    • The candidate is asked to review his spiritual life on a monthly basis with a spiritual director of his choice. He may seek the advice of his pastor or the Office of Ministries on the choice of a director, if he would like, but he is not obliged to seek his advice. It is recommended that the candidate’s pastor not serve as spiritual director for the candidate. All that is discussed between the candidate and his spiritual director remains confidential. This very personal aspect of spiritual direction is at the heart of the formation program for the subdiaconate. It is meant to support the candidate in his own call to grow in holiness and Christian maturity.
  • The educational aspect in the formation of a subdeacon consists in readings (some assigned, some suggested, and others, left to the candidate’s personal choice) and of written completion of essay questions, monitored by the Office of Ministries.
    • The pastor, however, is asked to be directly involved and to support the candidate in this educational process. This aspect of the program should begin when the candidate enters the two-year formation period. The essay questions are to be submitted to the Director of the Office of Ministries.
    • The pastoral aspect of formation consists of three or more practicum’s to be decided upon and prepare him better for subdiaconal ministry.
  • The subdeacon candidate in formation could be entrusted with care for an aspect of worship, e.g., helping prepare ushers, lectors, or altar servers; serving as liaison with the Altar Society; serving on Liturgical Committee, etc.
  • An appropriate practicum for a subdeacon candidate can consist of two or three small responsibilities.
    • When there is no deacon in the parish, the subdeacon is often called upon to take charge of a ministry of service to the people.
    • A subdeacon candidate may be visiting the elderly, helping with programs for married couples, visiting the sick, serving widows, widowers and the poor; helping to foster a prayer ministry in the church, etc.
  • The subdeacon candidate is encouraged to seek out some practicum that allows him to be involved with the society in which he lives.
    • Some examples of this may be to serve on one of many available church-community projects, some inter-faith and/or ecumenical cooperative venture, and/or some other ministry to the need in a community.
    • This practicum should give the candidate an exposure to the work of the Church in the community at large.

D. Deacon candidates

  • A man may not enter directly into a diaconate program without first having been accepted and having served satisfactorily as a subdeacon for at least two (2) years.
  • The application process begins when the man submits an application and the following documents to the Director along with:
    • Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist and Marriage Certificates.
    • Transcripts of academic achievement.
    • A doctor’s report regarding general health.
    • Psychological and/or personality evaluations. (The Director of the Office of Ministries will arrange for his evaluation to be done in the local area upon completion and return of the application.)
    • Letters of recommendation from his pastor, another priest or religious; an employer or fellow professional, and three fellow parishioners.
    • Wife’s written statement (if applicable) giving full approval of husband’s application and expressing her willingness to participate in aspects of the program.
    • A written biography briefly describing the family and religious background, as well as present family life and environment.
    • A recent photograph (including wife and children.)
    • Other documents or records may be specifically requested at a later date.
  • The age requirement for ordination to the diaconate is 40 for either a married or unmarried man.
  • The Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon ordinarily depends on the local Latin diaconate program to cooperate in the formation of deacon candidates.
    • In locales where there is no local Latin diaconate program, candidates are trained in much the same manner as the subdiaconate preparation program, e.g., home study, pastoral practicums and spiritual development. However, this program must be formally established and receive written permission of the Eparchial Bishop.
    • The Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon monitors the formation of the deacon candidate through the Director of the Office of Ministries, who works closely with the pastor and the formation team of the local Latin programs.
    • It is the responsibility of the deacon candidate to inform his pastor and the Director of his progress and involvement in the program.
  • Diaconate ordination are to be arranged in accordance with the Eparchial Bishops’ schedule. Whereas subdeacons are normally ordained in the parish where they live and serve, deacons may be called to the Cathedral for ordination depending on the Bishop’s prerogative. This arrangement shows forth both the parochial and eparchial involvement of the deacon.
  • The candidate’s pastor is the essential link in the chain of support for the future deacon. He is to work closely with the candidate and keep contact with the Office of Ministries to insure proper formation for the candidate. Without the support of the pastor the entire formation process can be jeopardized.
  • The candidate ought to have a spiritual director (other than his pastor) whom he calls upon at least once a month for spiritual direction. The candidate himself is responsible for monitoring his own spiritual growth and development.
  • The family of the candidate is likewise very important. For married deacons the Mystery of Holy Orders and the Mystery of Crowning together form a precious jewel of service in the Church, before, during and after his formal preparation period. Therefore, the candidate, his pastor, and the Church are to do all that is possible to ensure the happy and healthy respect for the family of the deacon.
  • Deacons in the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles are bound by all the provisions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches as well as the particular law, traditions and directives of the Maronite Church and the Statutes of Our Lady of Lebanon.
  • The deacon is called to animate and “call forth” the gifts and talents of the parish, to encourage and nurture worthy lay leaders, to work toward becoming less involved in parish responsibilities so that others could assume more responsibility and that he may go about his unique work of ministry. How each deacon lives out this responsibility will vary. The following two guidelines are offered to provide direction and a sense of good order for the deacon.
  • Deacons are encouraged to view the work place as an important area of ministry since they are ordained representatives of the Church finding themselves in the milieu of secular activity.
  • The deacons of the Eparchy are assigned by the Eparchial Bishop to a particular parish or institution to exercise their ecclesiastical ministry. A specific canonical assignment allows deacons to focus their ministry and to exercise most harmoniously the ministry entrusted to them by the Eparchial Bishop.

E. Pastoral Role of the Subdeacon

  • Administrative responsibilities remain the responsibility of the pastor and should not ordinarily be entrusted to the deacon/subdeacon. If a specific circumstance requires that the deacon/subdeacon assume administrative responsibilities, the matter should be discussed with the Director of the Office of Ministries and the mandate given by the Eparchial Bishop should be modified to reflect the arrangement.
  • The deacon/subdeacon may, however, be a stabilizing factor in times of parish crisis, and by experience he usually is. But his service should be called upon on an occasional basis, and not be a day-to-day dependency.
  • The subdeacon is called to be “like the blessed olive (tree) for the edification and upbuilding of the Holy Church.” It is the pastoral role of the subdeacon to:
    • Prepare the church building and the people themselves for woship;
    • Prepare the gifts; to transfer the offerings to the altar; to read the seven canonical epistles of St. Paul and the Acts of the Apostles [when a deacon is not present, he may read from the other epistles attributed to St Paul]; may assume some of the deacon’s liturgical functions when the deacon is absent with the exception of reading of the Gospel;
    • Assist the priest and congregation during worship;
    • In case of pastoral necessity, at the request of the pastor, the Eparchial Bishop may grant the Subdeacon permission to distribute the Eucharist in the Church and carry the Holy Mystery to the sick and homebound;
    • Support and foster the many lay ministries in the parish;
    • Assist the poor and needy within and outside of the parish;
    • Assist the pastor in other ways that are mutually agreed upon such as: involvement with youth, catechism, adult education, sacramental preparation;
    • Represent the pastor and parish in ecumenical or interfaith projects;
    • Work with the National Apostolate of Maronites and other lay apostolates;
    • Conduct para-liturgical services such as morning and evening prayers, novenas, devotions;
    • Preside at Services of the Word in conjunction with a Communion service, if approved by the pastor, in nursing homes, prisons and other places.
  • The deacon is called to “perform the service of the house of the Lord and his holy altar, and to be the visitor of the orphans and the comforter of the widows.” The pastoral role of the deacon is:

F. Pastoral Role of the Deacon

      • To prepare the church building, the sanctuary and the people themselves for worship;
      • To fulfill the diaconal interventions of the Liturgy, to prepare the gifts, pray the intercessions, and make the other appropriate proclamations;
      • With the permission of the Eparchial Bishop, to read the Gospel;
      • To preach when called upon by the pastor, as well as on some established, regular basis in the parish/institution;
      • To support, foster and nurture lay ministries within the parish;
      • To assist the poor and needy within and outside the parish, to visit the sick and shut-ins;
      • To be available to the priest , bishop and laity for service;
      • To lead para-liturgical services, morning and evening prayer, benediction services, devotions, novenas, etc., (without imparting a blessing); to conduct Word and Communion services in nursing homes, prisons, and other places approved by the pastor;
      • To work in ministries mutually agreeable to the pastor and deacon such as: Hospitals, prison, nursing homes, shelters, etc.;
      • Represent pastor and parish in ecumenical and/or interfaith projects
      • Counseling, sacramental preparation, religious education, youth work, adult education, etc.

G. General Norms for Deacons/Subdeacons

  • A subdeacon can marry. A deacon cannot marry after ordination; in the case of the death of his wife he is obliged to continue in a celibate life of service.
  • A married man is obliged first and foremost to his wife and family. All other responsibilities, including ministry are secondary. Every precaution ought to be taken before and after ordination to ensure this continued attentiveness and support.
  • In order to nurture his personal growth in holiness, the deacon/subdeacon and his wife are called upon to foster their own spiritual life by means of annual retreats, workshops, clergy meetings, fellowship with other ordained ministers, personal spiritual direction and personal prayer, along with frequent reception of the Mysteries, especially those of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
  • During his diaconate formation the parish and the deacon ought to work out a formula whereby the parish pays at least half (and the deacon the other half) of expenses incurred in his three or four-year formation program in the Latin Diocese.
  • Prior to his ordination the deacon/subdeacon renounces any right to financial remuneration from the Church for his services.
    • The deacon is to be reimbursed for expenses while performing his ministries. Likewise, each year an allowance ought to be budgeted for him by the parish/institution he serves to support his continuing education, retreats, clergy conferences, conventions and/or workshops.
    • With the written approval of the Eparchial Bishop, a deacon or subdeacon may be an employee of the parish.
  • Deacons and subdeacons are required to wear appropriate garb while performing their ministries or while participating in an ecclesiastical function.
  • The liturgical garb of the subdeacon and deacon is the alb and the stole, to be worn in the manner delineated by the approved liturgical books.
    • Deacons have the right to wear clerical collars, when they officially function as deacons, and may do so if they so choose. In order to better distinguish between deacons and priests, deacons should wear gray-colored clerical shirts.
    • Subdeacons, as a rule, do not wear clerical collars. However, when performing certain pastoral duties, especially in carrying the Eucharist to the sick and home-bound, they must wear clerical garb. As is the case with deacons, subdeacons should wear gray-colored clerical shirts.
  • Deacon/subdeacon upon ordination receives a formal assignment from the Eparchial Bishop. He is henceforth accountable on the parish level to his pastor. Likewise, he is accountable on the eparchial level to the Director of the Office of Ministries.
  • No bi-ritual faculties are necessary for a Maronite deacon to serve on an occasional basis in the Latin or other Eastern Catholic Church. If involvement is to be on-going and regular, bi-ritual faculties may be required if the ministry includes baptisms and marriages.
    • The Maronite deacon in conformity with the CCEO , has no permission to baptize or bless marriages.
    • If there is an expressed need─that is, a Maronite deacon is invited by a Latin pastor to perform baptisms and marriages─faculties, once approved by the local Latin Ordinary, must be sought through the Apostolic See in order for a deacon to administer these Mysteries/Sacraments with the Latin ritual.
    • The local Latin Ordinary must be sought through the Apostolic See in order for a deacon to administer these Mysteries/Sacraments with the Latin ritual.
    • A Maronite deacon may not presume to obtain bi-ritual faculties on his own or because of some particular interest of his own. Rather he must be invited to do so by a Latin priest who is willing to sponsor him and can attest that there is a true pastoral need for the granting of these faculties.
    • Regarding Latin and other Eastern deacons who wish to serve occasionally in Maronite parishes; no bi-ritual status is necessary.
    • Approval from the Director of the Office of Ministries ought to be sought if this involvement becomes regular and lasts more than three (3) months.
      • Special care ought to be taken by the pastor and the deacon himself to respect the Diocese/Eparchy and the parish from which he came.
  • It might become necessary for a deacon/subdeacon to become temporarily inactive or serve only a limited capacity in the Maronite parish to which he is assigned. Temporary inactive status for an agreed upon length of time or an indefinite period is required in this situation.
  • While on inactive status, the deacon/subdeacon retains the faculties of the Eparchy.

H. Enrollment of the Deacon

  • According to CCEO canon 358,” by virtue of ordination to the diaconate one is enrolled in the Eparchy.” The deacon who is inactive in, or absent from his particular assignment must obtain the permission of the Eparchial Bishop.
  • A deacon moving to another Eparchy must make his presence known to the Chancery in his new Eparchy. The deacon must understand that he is bound to the policies of his host Eparchy/Diocese and cannot function without the consent of the Eparchial/Diocesan Bishop.
    • The deacon should be aware that a grant of faculties in another Eparchy is not the same as enrollment into a new Eparchy. It is simply permission to exercise the ministry of deacon in an Eparchy other than one’s own.
  • A deacon who moves out of the Eparchy is still considered responsible to the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon until he is formally granted a transfer of enrollment (incardination).
    • Until a deacon transfers enrollment formally from the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, he has the responsibility of keeping the Office of Ministries advised as to his whereabouts and the activities in which he is involved.
  • Every deacon enrolled in another Eparchy but ministering in the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon will be bound by the policies of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon.
  • A deacon coming into the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon will observe the process outlined above, making his presence known through the Office of Ministries.
    • The Director of the Office will assist the incoming deacon to obtain faculties in the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. These faculties cannot be granted until the Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon has consulted with the deacon’s proper Diocesan/Eparchial Bishop.
  • Concession of faculties to serve as a deacon in this Eparchy does not constitute enrollment into the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon nor does it complete the transfer of enrollment from his previous Eparchy
    • Requesting transfer of enrollment is a very serious step for both the deacon as well as the Diocesan/Eparchial Bishops involved. This step should not be undertaken unless the likelihood of returning to one’s original Eparchy is remote. Care should especially be used in residence change brought about by job transfers.
  • Enrollment will not be granted to a deacon from another Eparchy until a suitable period of time has passed within which the deacon has demonstrated consistent service in an appropriate assignment. Usually this period of time will be three (3) years, but it is up to the Hierarch/Ordinary to make the decision in individual cases.

I. Retirement and leave of Absence

  • Retirement status is provided to ensure that a deacon/subdeacon does not burden himself when his health and/or circumstances dictate.
    • There is no mandatory or suggested age for retirement. A deacon/subdeacon may retire at any time because of ill health or age considerations.
    • Public recognition of the services rendered by a deacon/subdeacon is appropriate at the time of retirement.
    • A retired deacon/subdeacon is still an ordained minister in the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles and retains his right to assist at Liturgy.
  • A leave of absence may be granted to a deacon/subdeacon when formally requested by the deacon/subdeacon in writing to the Eparchial Bishop with a copy to the Director of the Office of Ministries. A leave may be granted for reasons of health, study, personal problems, family commitments, change of occupation or parish situation, or temporary dislocation from a Maronite community.
    • Such a leave will be granted for a period of time agreed upon by the Eparchial Bishop and the deacon/subdeacon. The situation will be reviewed prior to the agreed termination date of the leave and may be extended if both parties deem this necessary and suitable.
    • A deacon/subdeacon may request return to active ministry before the expiration date agreed upon.
    • A deacon/subdeacon on temporary leave still possesses good standing in the Eparchy. He is encouraged to participate in all activities of the diaconal community (social, spiritual and educational). However, faculties cease during the leave and the deacon may not function in any ministerial capacity except with the permission of the Eparchial Bishop.
  • In the event that a deacon experiences marital difficulties leading to separation, a “leave of absence” from public ministry will be requested for the reason of avoiding possible “public scandal.”
    • In the event of emerging reconciliation, with due time being allowed for healing among all parties concerned, including children, the deacon will be re-assigned to active ministry.
    • In the event of non-reconciliation or ensuing legal divorce, the return to active ministry will be decided in light of the established responsibility of the deacon for the failed marriage and in light of the responsibilities (parental and financial) incurred by he deacon as a result of the failed marriage.
    • In the event of an annulment, in addition to the above consideration of antecedent causal responsibilities and consequent parental and financial responsibilities, the “Tribunal Sentence” will be reviewed before a deacon may be returned to active ministry.
    • In the event that a causal responsibility of the deacon for the marital difficulties be judged “severely grave” (e.g., abuse, infidelity, criminality, pathology), return to the lay state may be considered.
    • Every effort ought to be made to return to the deacon ministry once it has been determined that the deacon is ready emotionally and that all issues concerning scandal and canon law have been resolved. A deacon/subdeacon who is placed on administrative leave is relieved of all responsibilities for any ecclesiastical office or function, as well as participation in active ministry. He may not function or represent himself as deacon/subdeacon while this is in effect.
  • A deacon/subdeacon who is placed on administrative leave is relieved of all responsibilities for an ecclesiastical office or function, as well as participation in active ministry. He may not function or represent himself as a deacon/subdeacon while this is in effect.

J. Death of a Deacon or Subdeacon

  • Because a deacon/subdeacon is an ordained minister of the church, funeral arrangements should be made by the family in consultation with the Chancery Office. (The family’s wishes will always have the highest priority in any arrangements.)
    • If the Bishop is not able to celebrate the Liturgy, a protopresbyter or other Episcopal representative is to preside or be the main celebrant.
    • The family or pastor is also to notify the Director of the Office of Ministries, who will in turn contact the deacons/subdeacons. The Chancery will be responsible for notifying all priests.
    • The deacon may also be waked in the church if acceptable to the family and pastor. The deacon/subdeacon should be waked in his vestments.
    • The bishop, his representative, the pastor of the church, a deacon or priest friend is to preach at the Funeral Liturgy unless some other specific request has been made by the deacon or his family.
    • The pastor of the parish of the deacon’s assignment is to preside at the service at the cemetery, unless some other specific request has been made by the deacon or his family.

Director

  • Deacon Louis Peters

Maronite Parishes In the United States