Diaconate (Permanent Diaconate)

Last updated: about 2 years ago

The Office of the Permanent Diaconate is responsible for the vocational discernment, screening, formation, assignment and continuing academic and spiritual enrichment of permanent deacons.

  1. Who is a Deacon?
  2. What are these "various ministries" of the Deacon?
  3. Why do some deacons become priests?
  4. May married men be ordained deacons?
  5. Is a Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?
  6. How do I find out more about becoming a Deacon?
Who is a Deacon?

A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three groups, or "orders," of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came "to serve and not to be served." The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.


What are these "various ministries" of the Deacon?

All ordained ministers in the Church are called to functions of Word, Sacrament, and Charity, but bishops, presbyters and deacons exercise these functions in various ways. As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church's resources to meet those needs. Deacons are also dedicated to eliminating the injustices or inequities that cause such needs. But no matter what specific functions a deacon performs, they flow from his sacramental identity. In other words, it is not only WHAT a deacon does, but WHO a deacon is, that is important.


Why do some deacons become priests?

For many years ordained ministers "ascended" from one office to another, culminating in ordination to the presbyterate, or priesthood. The Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965), however, authorized the restoration of the diaconate as a PERMANENT order of ministry. So, while students for the priesthood are still ordained deacons prior to their ordination as priests, there are more than 13,000 deacons in the United States alone who minister in this Order permanently. There is no difference in the sacramental sign or the functions between these so-called "transitional" and "permanent deacons."


May married men be ordained deacons?

Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the diaconate, when it was restored as a permanent order in the hierarchy, could be opened to "mature married men," later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. This is in keeping with the ancient tradition of the Church, in which married men were ordained into ministry. Also in keeping with ancient practice is the expectation that while a married man may be ordained, an ordained man, if his wife should die, may not marry again without special permission.


Is a Deacon ordained for the Parish or the Diocese?

Whenever a person is ordained, he is to serve the diocesan Church. Deacons are no different in this regard: they are assigned by the bishop to ministries for which the bishop perceives a great need, and for which the deacon may have special gifts or talents. Most often, this will be within a parish setting, just as most priests serve in a parish. Once assigned to the parish, the deacon and any other clergy assigned to the parish minister under the immediate supervision of the pastor. However, this assignment may be changed at the request of the deacon or the initiative of the bishop.


How do I find out more about becoming a Deacon?

The best place to start is with your pastor, who can put you in touch with the Director of Permanent Deacons for our archdiocese. The Director will be able to outline the various requirements and processes to be followed. Our Director Deacon Ray Duplechain can be reached at phone number 504-861-6329.

Information provided by the USCCB.


Continuing Formation Report Form

Christianity Is a Relationship, Not Rules, Pope Tells Seminarians

ROME (CNS) -- Christianity is not a set of moral rules, but a path to a relationship with God, who is love, Pope Benedict XVI told 190 seminarians studying at seminaries runby the Diocese of Rome. Christians are not so much called to obedience as to accepting God's love in Jesus and acting in a way that demonstrates how God's love has transformed them. the pope said Feb. 12 during his evening visit to Rome's major seminary.

            Pope Benedict led the students from five seminaries in "lectio divina," a prayerful reading of a Gospel passage. Without using a prepared text, the pope offered the students a long meditation on the passage from the Gospel of John, and then he joined them for dinner.

When Jesus told his disciples that they were not his servants, but his friends, the pope said, he was highlighting the fact that they were not called to a blind obedience of rules,but to a relationship in which his will would become their will and his love their love.

"For us human beings, power is always identified with the ability to destroy, to do evil But the real meaning of omnipotence, which appears in Christ, is exactly the opposite the pope said. In Christ, people see that God loved his human creatures to the point of suffering for them.

Jesus also promised his disciples that whatever they asked of God, they would obtain,the pope said. The normal human reaction is "but, no, Lord, that's not true," he said, and people can point to the prayers of a mother for a dying child, who dies despite the prayers, or all sorts of sincere requests for good things that don't appear to be answered.The one thing God always gives in response to a prayer is his love and his joy,  the pope said.

"Prayer is a journey, I would say a climb," he told the seminarians. "We increasingly must learn what things we should pray for and what things we shouldn't pray for because they are expressions of our selfishness. I cannot pray for things that will harm others. I cannot pray for things that add to my selfishness or pride. In this way, before God, prayer becomes a process of purifying our thoughts and desires."

Copyright © Catholic News Service www.CatboIicNews.com. Reprinted with permission of CNS

"Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission
entrusted by Christ to his apostles [and their successors] continues
to be exercised in the Church until the end of time." Thus, it is the
sacrament of apostolic ministry: "The mission of the Apostles,
which the Lord Jesus continues to entrust to the Pastors of his people,
is a true service, significantly referred to in Sacred Scripture as
‘diakonia,’ namely, service or ministry." This diakonia "is exercised
on different levels by those who from antiquity have been called
bishops, priests and deacons." "The ordained ministries, apart from
the persons who receive them, are a grace for the entire Church."

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, taking seriously
the role of the deacon to which St. Paul refers in his first letter to
Timothy, remind us that "those who serve well as deacons gain good
standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus." It was
for serious pastoral and theological reasons that the Council decided
to reestablish the Order of Deacons as a permanent rank in the
hierarchy of the Church.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders marks deacons "with an
imprint (‘character’) which cannot be removed and which configures
them to Christ, who made himself the ‘deacon’ or servant of all."
For this level of Holy Orders, Christ calls and the Church asks the
bishop to ordain deacons to be consecrated witnesses to service. In
his post-synodal exhortation The Church in America, Pope John Paul
II makes his own the words of the bishops of that gathering: "We see
with joy how deacons ‘sustained by the grace of the Sacrament, in
the ministry (diakonia) of the liturgy, of the word and of charity are
at the service of the People of God, in communion with the Bishop and his priests.

                (Excerpted from the National Directory for Deacons)

Lord, source of all holiness, draw bishops, priests and deacons closer to Christ through the Eucharistic mystery, may they grow daily in the grace of their ordination. 

Deacon Directory Link

There are currently 237 total deacons in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, 198 in active ministry, 18 retired and 21 on duty out of the archdiocese or on leave. Twenty-seven were permanently displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Diaconate Pamphlet

In February 2010 the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program will begin using our new formation center at Infant Jesus of Prague Mission 700 Maple Street, Harvey LA 70058-4008.

Directions to Infant Jesus of Prague Mission