What is a Permanent Deacon?
Permanent deacons are ordained clergy of the Catholic Church. To become a permanent deacon, one receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the hands of a bishop. The permanent diaconate flourished in the early Church and was restored at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
“Deacon” comes from the Greek word for “servant.” Just as Christ came to serve, permanent deacons are called to a ministry of service. In particular, permanent deacons have a special ministry to serve those in need, such as persons who are hungry, homeless, sick, in prison or immigrants.
As ministers of God’s Word, permanent deacons preach and teach. They may baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals and wakes and administer Holy Communion to the sick and dying.
At Mass, permanent deacons proclaim the Gospel and the Prayer of the Faithful, prepare the altar with the gifts of bread and wine, invite the congregation to exchange the Sign of Peace, distribute Holy Communion and dismiss the assembly.
Most permanent deacons have secular jobs. In their work, they provide an ordained witness to Christ in their workplaces. The majority of permanent deacons are married men with families; a few are celibate.
To learn more about permanent deacons, visit the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.