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Oviedo, Spain, Mar 14, 2018 / 01:24 pm (ACI Prensa).- Alberto José Gonzalez is a 50-year-old retired police officer, married with two daughters, who recently began his ministry as the first permanent deacon in the Diocese of Gijón, Spain.
Whether it is in the National Police Force or as a member of the clergy, “a service is provided to the people and that is precisely my vocation,” he told the newspaper El Comercial.
Gonzalez said he was always a believer and since his youth, “the great mysteries such as life, the universe, and things related to God always greatly impressed me.”
After some health problems prevented him from continuing his work as a policeman, he decided to take an early retirement.
It was while he was on sick leave that the possibility of becoming a permanent deacon matured.
Key to his discernment was an “intense conversation” with a priest who had experienced a conversion and been ordained following a life of drug use far from the Church.
Gonzalez retired from the National Police Force in August 2011. In September that same year, he enrolled in the San Melchor de Quirós Higher Institute of Religious Studies in Oviedo, Spain where he studied for three years.
He was ordained on Dec. 13 last year, along with two other men who had studied alongside him – one to the permanent diaconate and the other to the transitional diaconate.
Deacon Gonzalez explained to El Comercial that he can preach, administer Baptism, bring Viaticum to the sick, and officiate at weddings and funerals, but he stressed that what he likes the most is relating to people.
“After all, that was what I liked the most during my time in the National Police Force. I don’t deny that the car chases and making traffic stops were [exciting], but what always stayed with me were the words of thanks from the people I helped and the good friends I made throughout that time,” he said.
The diaconate is one of the three degrees of Holy Orders. The word “deacon” mean “he who serves.” The mission of the deacon is to serve the bishop and his priests in the liturgy, with preaching the Gospel, and performing works of charity.
The minimum age is 35, and the upper limit is determined by the local bishop, usually around 60 years of age. Unlike the transitional diaconate, in which men are preparing for priesthood, the permanent diaconate allows married men. They must be married for at least five years and have their wife’s consent. If they are later widowed they may not marry again.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.