How are a priest and deacon different?

Priests and deacons are both ordained ministers of the Gospel. However, their service to the Church is quite different.

The deacon’s ministry originated in the Acts of the Apostles to serve the Church in many practical ways.

The Twelve called together the entire community of disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, brethren, we direct you to select from among you seven men of good reputation, men filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, to whom we may assign this task. We will then be able to devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The entire community found this proposal to be acceptable, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch who was a convert to Judaism. They then presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid hands on them. Acts 6:2-6 NCB

A deacon, therefore, is a servant of the Church. Like the priest, he is an ordained clergy. However, his functions are limited and somewhat analogous to those of a Protestant minister. He:

  • Preaches
  • Baptizes
  • Marries
  • Buries
  • Ministers to the sick
  • Offers service to the poor

A priest is ordained to serve in persona Christi. He performs all the ministries of a deacon. But additionally, he celebrates the Eucharist and pronounces absolution.

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