Catholic Deacons


Deacons are members of the Catholic clergy who are ordained by a bishop at a lower level of Holy Orders to serve his diocese.

Men who are in the process of becoming Catholic priests serve as transitional deacons for a period of time but most deacons are permanent deacons who do not plan to be priests.

Deacons may administer the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Matrimony.

Coming from the Greek word “diakonia”, the diaconate is a ministry of service. Deacons help to carry out the sacramental life of the Church, focusing on preaching, assisting at Mass, and serving the poor.

Men who are married may become permanent deacons and many have careers outside of Church.

Serving the Church and the world:

Not for the altar:

At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the Apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.

Acts 6: 1-6

Straight from Scripture:

The origin of the diaconate:

Reaching back to the beginning of the Church:

Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1596

Service instead of sacrifice:

Distinct from a priest:

Giving his life to the Church in a different way:

If we keep in mind the deep spiritual nature of this diakonia, then we can better appreciate the interrelation of the three areas of ministry traditionally associated with the diaconate, that is, the ministry of the word, the ministry of the altar, and the ministry of charity. Depending on the circumstances, one or another of these may receive particular emphasis in an individual deacon’s work, but these three ministries are inseparably joined together as one in the service of God’s redemptive plan. This is so because the word of God inevitably leads us to the Eucharistic worship of God at the altar; in turn, this worship leads us to a new way of living which expresses itself in acts of charity.

Pope John Paul II, Address to the Deacons of the United States, September 19, 1987

A deacon wears special vestments at Mass:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Freedom in a higher standard:

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