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Author Topic: Proper way to address deacons  (Read 2035 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 09, 2011, 05:50:02 PM »

What is the proper way to address Deacons and Sub-Deacons?
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 06:13:19 PM »

Some will address a deacon as, "Father Deacon" or simply "Deacon".  Sub-Deacon?  I address them as "Sub-Deacon and their name".
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 06:25:13 PM »

I have never met any Subdeacons. All were acolytes or lectors blessed to do subdeaconing.
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 06:28:10 PM »

So far as I remember, I've usually addressed Deacons as "Deacon N.," (or Dcn. N. or whatever), whether in a parish or on a forum. However, I would think that something more formal, like a letter, might call for a "Father Deacon". Then again, I've never written to one. I've also never met a Sub-Deacon in parish life, though I think we do have one or two on oc.net...

EDIT--I checked the memberlist, and there are 8 users who have Subdeacon (or a variation) in their name...
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 06:32:27 PM »

For deacons, it varies between jurisdictions. Some will simply say "Deacon _____" others use the address "Father Deacon ______". Occasionally I will hear only "Father _______", although I think normally this is only for hierodeacons, because all tonsured monastics are addressed as "Father." I'm not sure which practice belongs to what ethnic tradition, though.

Subdeacons can be addressed simply as "Subdeacon ______." Often, subdeacons will only be addressed by their names without a title, as they are a minor order of the clergy. At least, this is my experience. My godfather is a subdeacon preparing for ordaination to the Holy Diaconiate.

In a letter, the full title of a deacon would be "The Reverend Father Deacon ______" or "The Rev. Fr. Dcn. ________".
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 07:00:09 PM »

In person, it is Father n. Father Deacon n is the formal title. In formal writing it would be Deacon n. Justy as a priest in formal writing is Priest/Presbyter n, Archpriest n, Protopresbyter n, Hieromonk n, Igumen n, Archimandrite n, etc. See "How to Addresss Clergy" for all the gory details of proper procedures ina ddressing all clergy ranks in the church whether in person or writing.
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 11:33:18 AM »

This brings to my mind a question I researched a little bit and never found an answer for...

I have read in multiple places that it is acceptable to kiss the hand of a deacon, since he holds a level of the priesthood and that his hands hold the Body of Christ in the Liturgy. This, of course, is distinct from receiving a blessing, which is only asked for from presbyters and bishops. I have never actually seen this practiced, however. Is this limited to certain jurisdictions? If so, which one(s)? What is the proper etiquette for this practice?
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 11:50:03 AM »

My godfather is a deacon, and nobody ever kisses his hand. You're right about them not being able to give blessings.

Father Deacon ______ is the appropriate address in the Serbian Church, or just Father ______.
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 11:51:39 AM »

For deacons, it varies between jurisdictions. Some will simply say "Deacon _____" others use the address "Father Deacon ______". Occasionally I will hear only "Father _______", although I think normally this is only for hierodeacons, because all tonsured monastics are addressed as "Father." I'm not sure which practice belongs to what ethnic tradition, though.

Subdeacons can be addressed simply as "Subdeacon ______." Often, subdeacons will only be addressed by their names without a title, as they are a minor order of the clergy. At least, this is my experience. My godfather is a subdeacon preparing for ordaination to the Holy Diaconiate.

In a letter, the full title of a deacon would be "The Reverend Father Deacon ______" or "The Rev. Fr. Dcn. ________".

These are ACROD's customs as well.
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 12:03:18 PM »

This is the response from my Priest
"Father deacon for a deacon, sub-deacon for the same.  No blessing.  No kissing of hands, etc."

So is sub-deacon called sub-deacon n?  I just want to make sure I have this down when I go to DL this weekend. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 12:44:21 PM »

So is sub-deacon called sub-deacon n?  I just want to make sure I have this down when I go to DL this weekend. 

Yes. It is also acceptable to simply address a subdeacon by name, as they are a minor order of the clergy, it is not considered disrespectful to not use the title (at least in my experience). Of course, there are several subdeacons on the Boards...it would be nice if they chimed in. Tongue
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 08:05:00 PM »

My experience, for what it's worth...

I've spoken to one sub-deacon, an Antiochian one from America - in conversation, he was addressed by his first name.

As for deacons, I've consistently heard 'Father' being the usual conversational title.

With regards to hand-kissing, this seems to vary among different jurisdictions.  Byzantine-style jurisdictions (Greek and Antiochian) tend to kiss the hand of a deacon, as a sign of respect.  This is easy to do, because the usual way of getting a blessing is basically a handshake-followed-by-a-kiss-on-the-hand, so there's little difference between greeting a priest and a deacon anyway.  However, Slavic-style jurisdictions (Russian and Serbian) don't kiss the hand of a deacon, nor would a deacon respond favourably to asking for a blessing.
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2011, 09:02:32 PM »

My experience, for what it's worth...

I've spoken to one sub-deacon, an Antiochian one from America - in conversation, he was addressed by his first name.

As for deacons, I've consistently heard 'Father' being the usual conversational title.

With regards to hand-kissing, this seems to vary among different jurisdictions.  Byzantine-style jurisdictions (Greek and Antiochian) tend to kiss the hand of a deacon, as a sign of respect.  This is easy to do, because the usual way of getting a blessing is basically a handshake-followed-by-a-kiss-on-the-hand, so there's little difference between greeting a priest and a deacon anyway.  However, Slavic-style jurisdictions (Russian and Serbian) don't kiss the hand of a deacon, nor would a deacon respond favourably to asking for a blessing.

Exactly. When I was a deacon and would visit Greek churches, my hand was always kissed. No blessing is involved, it is kissing the hand that holds the eucarist, as deacons, priests, and bishops alike take the Body from the hand.
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2011, 12:48:05 PM »

I wonder why this greeting for deacons among the Greeks does not exist among Slavic churches? It seems like a nice pious custom. Does anyone know the history behind this? I'm intrigued.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2011, 05:12:07 PM »

I wonder why this greeting for deacons among the Greeks does not exist among Slavic churches? It seems like a nice pious custom. Does anyone know the history behind this? I'm intrigued.

Partly because, IMHO, the main purpose is to receive a blessing.

Again, a giant IMHO:
My theory is that it's just a way of standardising greetings for clergy.  In original practise, people couldn't tell who was a deacon and who was a priest (or a subdeacon or reader, for that matter).  The Russian way of dealing with it was to make the priest's be distinctive and wear a cross; the Greek way of dealing with it was to kiss deacon's hands as well (I suspect that the justification came after the fact)...which works well when you rarely spot wear-cassock-in-public subdeacons, readers or monks, of course!
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2011, 05:28:00 PM »

I once heard my bishop say that a deacon should be addressed as "Deacon Name". I was taught that only a priest's hand (and bishop's of course) should be kissed as that is the hand that prepares Communion for us, and the hand that blesses us. For those reasons, a deacon's hand is not kissed.

No wonder with so many variations we get so confused!
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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2011, 06:43:32 AM »

I can only think of one Orthodox person who addresses me as "Subdeacon Michael".  The rest simply call me "Michael", which is how I introduce myself and sign letters, e-mails, and such like.  I understand that those of us in minor orders usually only use the clerical rank for sacramental purposes - Communion, confession, anointing, and such like - although I confess I do supply my name with "Subdeacon" attached if placing an order online for church goods from an Orthodox supply company. It is perhaps a little naughty of me but many Orthodox people do seem to have more of a care and sense of urgency when dealing with people in cassocks.  While it makes me very uncomfortable in person, (I receive protest when I try to assist with the dishes or anything practical, and am made to simply sit and be waited on), I do not mind it by electronic means (where it is obvious) and I do want the best for my parish.

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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2011, 09:55:29 AM »

Hand Blessings may be given really by anybody to another person, with the difference that a bishop or priest holds his fingers to form the IC XC monogram and a layperson (includes a deacon in this case)holds their fingers as they do when they cross themselves, 3 fingers joined and the other 2 pressed into the palm.

The hand of a layperson may also be kissed after a blessing.  

We see this in the case of abbesses who give such blessings to their nuns and to anybody who asks.  The same for an abbot if he should not be in Orders, or a spiritual father or mother.

Mothers and fathers may bless their children in this way.  Teachers may bless students.  You best friend could give you a blessing before you set off for your wedding ceremony.

Now these are the customs with which I am familiar from the Serbian Church and, I think, they hold good also for the Russian Church.
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2011, 10:37:46 AM »

Hand Blessings may be given really by anybody to another person, with the difference that a bishop or priest holds his fingers to form the IC XC monogram and a layperson (includes a deacon in this case)holds their fingers as they do when they cross themselves, 3 fingers joined and the other 2 pressed into the palm.

The hand of a layperson may also be kissed after a blessing.  

We see this in the case of abbesses who give such blessings to their nuns and to anybody who asks.  The same for an abbot if he should not be in Orders, or a spiritual father or mother.

Mothers and fathers may bless their children in this way.  Teachers may bless students.  You best friend could give you a blessing before you set off for your wedding ceremony.

Now these are the customs with which I am familiar from the Serbian Church and, I think, they hold good also for the Russian Church.

Father, bless.

Very interesting! I appreciate you sharing this. The only case I have heard of laymen giving blessings were abbesses and parents to children. I would like to learn more about this tradition, and would appreciate any expounding you could do, or direction to other sources you may have concerning blessings.

Again, thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2011, 07:35:29 PM »

Hand Blessings may be given really by anybody to another person, with the difference that a bishop or priest holds his fingers to form the IC XC monogram and a layperson (includes a deacon in this case)holds their fingers as they do when they cross themselves, 3 fingers joined and the other 2 pressed into the palm.

The hand of a layperson may also be kissed after a blessing.  

We see this in the case of abbesses who give such blessings to their nuns and to anybody who asks.  The same for an abbot if he should not be in Orders, or a spiritual father or mother.

Mothers and fathers may bless their children in this way.  Teachers may bless students.  You best friend could give you a blessing before you set off for your wedding ceremony.

Now these are the customs with which I am familiar from the Serbian Church and, I think, they hold good also for the Russian Church.

Father, bless.

Very interesting! I appreciate you sharing this. The only case I have heard of laymen giving blessings were abbesses and parents to children. I would like to learn more about this tradition, and would appreciate any expounding you could do, or direction to other sources you may have concerning blessings.

Again, thanks for sharing!

This things tend to be learned by contact with the living tradition.  I do not know if anything has ever been committed to writing.   You could ask your priest and your bishop and also ask any monks or nuns whom you know.  Of course one problem is that some things have not, at least not yet, been transmitted from the "home" countries to the West.
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« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2011, 07:56:58 PM »

Well, in Romanian we virtually kiss all older people's hands since we greet them with "Sarut mana" which is "I kiss (your) hand".
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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2011, 10:45:50 PM »

A deacon (now an archimandrite) who was attached to the Metropolitan of Boston once mentioned to me, when I asked the question, "Only the bishop should address their deacons as, 'Deacon N.'  For everyone else, it's 'Father Deacon N.' or 'Father N.'"  This practice is reinforced in the current practice of our Metropolis (our chancellor is an Archdeacon), and in a few references in Greek (I wasn't seeking the information when I saw it, so I didn't bother remembering where it came from).

In the one Greek book, it stated that the proper full address for all three "higher" orders was (once upon a time) Father [Rank] N. - Father Deacon, Father Presbyter, Father Bishop/Metropolitan.  I haven't seen this in any other sources.

Of course, in current Greek practice there are actual formal salutations for each "rank" of clergy that is dependent on other factors (such as education).  My salutation, as a theologically-educated married presbyter, is "Aidesimologiotate," (vocative) which is the combination of αἰδέσιμος + λογιώτατος.  A bit of a mouthful.

So, for example, in Greek one could use "Father" for all deacons, although it would be more proper to address a Deacon who has a formal theological degree (bachelor's and above) to be addressed as "Ierologiotate" (Vocative).
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2011, 05:00:25 PM »

I am a Sub-deacon in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Normally I am addressed as Sub-deacon Thomas when I function as a sub-deacon liturgically or administratively for the Church and as Thomas or Thom privately or when I function in a non-liturgical manner, unaffiliated with my Archdiocese (as I do here on the Convert issues Forum as a moderator which is NOT officially affiliated within the AOCNA). It is an honor to be called a Sub-deacon when not officially serving in my secular life, but I am not offended if someone calls me Thomas, even if I am functioning liturgically or administratively for the Church. I always address  readers, sub-deacons, deacons,priests,and our  bishops by their proper  titles out respect for their calling and service to the Church.

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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2011, 07:05:41 PM »

In Greek churches I've been in, altar boys are de facto subdeacons--whether tonsured or not. To address them as such, however, would be pretty weird. Same thing with readers. I'm a reader, and there are subdeacons at my church, but I am only called Reader John at communion, and the subdeacons are only addressed as such by the priest when giving announcements. A lot of converts, I think, are unaware about lay hand blessings.
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« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2011, 06:56:33 PM »

Thanks for all the insight.  How do we address Deacons when not in a church setting, but say maybe over dinner or a casual moment out of church?
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« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2011, 08:40:47 AM »

Depends how are you related. You will address in different ways a Deacon who is your family member, one who is a friend, one who you hardly know etc.
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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2011, 10:22:01 PM »

Depends how are you related. You will address in different ways a Deacon who is your family member, one who is a friend, one who you hardly know etc.

How about a Deacon I hardly know?
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« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2011, 10:32:32 AM »

You should address him as Father N.
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« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2011, 11:08:47 AM »

I Kissed A readers hand In Church one Day ,He was wearing a Black Cassock, And A Cross around his Neck ,Bigger Than a Patriarch would wear......It confused me ,I grabbed his hand, said Father Bless ,Kissed his Hand ...After that
He told me he was a reader and not Clergy.... Grin
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« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2011, 02:40:20 PM »

I have never met any Subdeacons. All were acolytes or lectors blessed to do subdeaconing.

I'll be glad to introduce you to my husband, Subdeacon Dionysios.
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