INDIANAPOLIS, June 29 (UPI) -- The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has ordained 25 men to be deacons of the Catholic Church, an office abandoned until recent decades, officials say.
Aside from men on their way to becoming priests, the church hadn't ordained lay men as deacons until the 1970s, following the Second Vatican Council, The Indianapolis Star noted Sunday.
Catholic deacons perform baptisms, weddings and funerals, preach at mass and lead prayer services. Unlike priests, though, they may not hear confessions, anoint the sick or consecrate the Eucharist.
Over time, a handful of deacons from other dioceses had transferred to Indianapolis, but until 2004, when American bishops adopted a fresh set of guidelines for them, the archdiocese declined to grow its own ranks of deacons.
The Rev. Bede Cisco, the Benedictine monk who oversaw the local revival of deacons, said there is a now definite need for them.
"I think here the real need for it wasn't seen clearly because they still had enough priests to take care of a lot of ministry," Cisco said. "Folks were more concerned about allowing the lay ministry to grow and develop as fully as possible."