The permanent diaconate was established during the Second Vatican Council. Before that, only men preparing to become priests were ordained deacons. Now, more than 13,000 deacons are serving in the United States. Deacons perform many important tasks like Baptisms, spiritual direction, and preaching during Mass. They take some pressure off of our priests.
Shortly after the permanent diaconate was established, Deacon Myles Charlesworth took it to prayer — he thought the Lord might be calling him. But he and his late wife, Marilyn, lived in Kingston, N.Y. The only place to go through formation was at the seminary in New York City, which was too far to travel. Deacon Myles waited for the right opportunity, which came in the mid-1970s. He was able to go through the three years of formation closer to home and was ordained, with 11 other men, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1978. What stands out the most from that day is everyone asking for blessings after the ordination.
“It was humbling and gratifying to have them ask for blessings,” he says. “It was a reminder that this is why I was ordained — to bring God to people.”
Since that day, Deacon Myles has been bringing God to people. We are blessed to have had him serve here at Our Lady of Lourdes as a deacon. Deacon Myles had a stroke in December 2022, which has kept him from so many of the hands-on diaconate roles. He sees his role now as a man of prayer.
“It’s been hard not being able to go to Mass because of some of the physical issues I now have,” Deacon Myles says. “I ask people to keep me in their prayers.”
Deacon Myles loved so many parts of the diaconate. His favorite was working one-on-one with people.
“I loved helping people understand how God is acting in their life, even though it’s difficult sometimes to see it,” he says. “It was a blessing to see them come alive when they realize how much God cares for them.”
He also enjoyed being able to celebrate the sacraments with people. It was special to be part of people’s lives in that way. Deacon Myles also enjoyed filling in for other deacons when they needed help.
“It was gratifying to help out because shortly before my stroke, I didn’t have a permanent assignment as a deacon,” he says. “I loved taking some pressure off the other deacons.”
Visiting the sick was an especially gratifying ministry for Deacon Myles.
Now, Deacon Myles has advice for any man considering becoming a permanent deacon — give it a try, but first, spend some time talking to other deacons.
Over the years, Deacon Myles hopes he’s brought others to God in his daily interactions. He points out that he’s not always been wearing vestments.
“It’s not always obvious that you are a deacon,” he says. “People will come to know who you are through your relationship with them and with God,”
Marilyn and Deacon Myles were blessed with four children. Marilyn passed away about four years ago.