Deacons compose the first of the three orders of ordained ministry. They are called to a ministry of service, working with priests and bishops to build up the Body of Christ.
Who is a deacon and what does he do?
Ministry is a tapestry. We need all the threads to appreciate the richness and diversity of the whole, and each of these threads is woven together in Christ. God calls some men through the Church to ordained ministry: bishops, priests, and deacons. Bishops and priests are ordained to the ministerial priesthood; deacons are ordained for a ministry of service. All receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Thus, the deacon is an ordained minister of the Church. He is neither a layman nor a priest. The deacon is a cleric ordained for the service of God’s people in communion with the bishop and his body of priests. He works collaboratively with bishops, priests, and existing staff members of a parish or institution. They work together to build up the Body of Christ.
All ordained ministers in the Church are called to serve through Word, Sacrament, and Charity, but they exercise this service in various ways.
As minister of Word, a deacon proclaims the Gospel, preaches, and teaches in the name of the Church.
As minister of Sacrament, a deacon baptizes, leads the faithful in prayer, witnesses marriages, and conducts wake and funeral services.
As minister of Charity, a deacon is a leader in identifying the needs of others and in calling God’s people into service to meet these needs.
The Permanent Diaconate in the U.S.
The Permanent Diaconate continues to grow. In the United States today 18,000 ordained deacons are serving abused children, battered women, the mentally ill, drug addicts, those with HIV/AIDS, the homeless, prisoners, refugees, migrants, the rural poor, and victims of racial and ethnic discrimination. Over 3,000 are preparing for the ministry of deacon.
Office of the Deacon Personnel
The Office of the Deacon Personnel, assisted by the Permanent Diaconate Continuing Formation Board, provides the programs of continuing formation, retreats, and ministry support for the fifty permanent deacons and their families. The office also coordinates and oversees the spiritual, theological, human, and pastoral formation of candidates for the permanent Diaconate.