|a fool or simpleton; ninny.|
|a children's mummer's parade, as on the Fourth of July, with prizes for the best costumes.|
(from Greek diakonos, "helper"), a member of the lowest rank of the threefold Christian ministry (below the presbyter-priest and bishop) or, in various Protestant churches, a lay official, usually ordained, who shares in the ministry and sometimes in the governance of a congregation. In churches in which the diaconate exists there is a general continuity, at least in principle, with the early Christian pattern of deacons as a basic but subservient ministerial order and as helpers responsible for the practical and charitable functions of the Christian community. In the Orthodox, the Anglican, and (until the 1960s) the Roman Catholic churches, the diaconate in practice almost entirely lost its original independent status as one of the major orders and became in effect a transitional probationership for ordination to the priesthood, customarily lasting for a year.
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