Published in Matters India, 7, 2016
Deacon Joice James with his family. Joice had pursued a total of five years of seminary study in India and London.
(Note: The discussion world wide on conferring diaconate to women in the Latin Church is still going on at fever pitch. But the SMC in Kerla has already done it for men, though there is no dearth of priests in the Oriental Rites. It remains to be seen if it will become a wide spread practice in Kerala since vocations to priesthood are declining fast even here. The more urgent reform to be introduced in the SMC is the introduction Pastoral councils and Financial councils in every Parish prescribed by Francis to stop the extravaganza of building 50 crore churches like the one in Edappally. james kottoor, editor)
Kochi: In a historic development, a married man has been conferred with deacon status by the Syro-Malabar Church.
Joice James, a father of four, was made a permanent deacon by Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry at a ceremony held yesterday.
Though the Church has conferred deacon status on laymen in the past, it is for the first time that a permanent diaconate is being conferred on a married man after the Syro-Malabar Church became an independent Church.
Joice, son of Pallikamyalil James and Philomina, belongs to the St George Church Parish at Muthalakkulam under the Kothamangalam diocese. His wife Jibi and children were present at the function. Joice had been working in the education sector in London for the last 15 years.
Joice had pursued a total of five years of seminary study in India and London. He will serve in the Ujjain diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church.Deacon, a ministry in the Christian Church, is generally associated with certain specific services. However, it varies among theological and denominational traditions.
In the Catholic Church, diaconate is the first of the three ranks in the ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for priesthood are transitional deacons. Those who are not planning to become ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained as permanent deacons, while single men are usually ordained with a commitment to celibacy.A person who is made deacon can perform services except certain sacraments.
“Conferring diaconate on laymen is not something new in the tradition of Syro-Malabar Church. Two years ago, a bachelor was conferred the status of deacon. In one instance, even a widower was ordained priest,” said church spokesperson Fr Jimmy Poochakkat.