The vocation that Lincoln lacks: permanent deacons

With all the news this week about the retirement of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, one detail that went largely unmentioned was his diocese’s lack of deacons.

The diocese has a significant number of priests, of which the bishop is justly proud.

But deacons are another matter.

According to the diocesan website, there are 150 priests serving 134 parishes and 96,000 Catholics.  There are 44 seminarians and 141 religious sisters.

The number of permanent deacons? 3.

It was widely known that Bishop Bruskewitz did not want the diaconate in Lincoln, because he felt it would inhibit vocations to the priesthood.  (I’m not sure there are statistics to support that; other dioceses around the country with many priestly vocations also have a healthy number of vocations to the diaconate.)

Meantime, to this day, the diocesan vocations page in Lincoln does not list the diaconate as a possible vocation, and it does not list an office of the permanent diaconate, either.

Perhaps under the new bishop, things will change.

Let us pray.

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One response to “The vocation that Lincoln lacks: permanent deacons”

  1. Deacon Kandra,

    Just ran across this, sorry for my tardiness (perhaps you won’t even see this comment due to it). But I would like to offer something in a very cordial tone as a Lincolnite, an acolyte and as one who holds both Bishop Conley and Bishop Bruskewitz under high esteem.

    I appreciate the great sacrifices that permanent deacons make throughout the United States and especially those I’ve met in nearby dioceses. I would like to note, though, that Bishop Bruskewitz’s decision to use acolytes instead of permanent deacons is, yes about vocations, but also about being pragmatic for this particular diocese. If there are sufficient vocations to the Priesthood which can cover the needs of all the faithful (for baptism, weddings, funerals, preaching the Gospel, etc) , then why “over appoint” or “over clericize” the laity?

    In addition to our great Priests we are blessed with an abundance of men who are willing to help serve at the Altar as acolytes. If these meet the needs of the diocese (assisting at the Altar and taking communion to the sick), I don’t see the need to hope for change in the recognition of permanent deacons. Again, I appreciate the role of a permanent deacon, but given Bruskewitz’s familiarity with the needs of this particular diocese, the tone of the above strikes me as overly presumptuous and defensive (perhaps I’m reading into it too much).

    In other words, if my softball team is good but needs another batter to get over the top, I don’t call up Albert Pujols when the former high school player will do the trick.