Permanent Diaconate

In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, and single men may be ordained with a commitment to celibacy.

Deacons are ministers of Charity, Sacrament, and Word. Permanent deacons have played a crucial role in the Church dating back to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.



Saint Stephen

As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. The Bible records that Stephen “full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”

Saint Stephen was one of the first ordained deacons of the Church. He was also the first Christian martyr. Stephen was so conformed to Jesus in his holy life that his martyrdom was both a natural and supernatural sign of his love for the Lord. It also inspired the early believers as they faced the first round of brutal persecution.

His behavior, even forgiving those who were taking his life while he was being stoned to death, was a beautiful reflection of how conformed he truly was to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is recorded in Chapter 7 of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 7:54-60), which immediately follows the Gospels in the New Testament.

~from Catholic Online (



Saint Lawrence

As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs. St. Lawrence was martyred during the third century for doing just that.

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. The Saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. “Turn me over,” he said to the judge. “I’m done on this side!”

~from Catholic Online (


Saint Vincent

As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. Saint Vincent was ordained to the diaconate by Saint Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, and commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese.

Because his bishop suffered from a speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman. When the Roman Emperor Diocletian began persecuting Christians in Spain, Vincent answered in the bishop’s name and both were brought before Dacian, the Roman Governor.

After years of torture and torment, Saint Vincent died of his wounds in prison on January 22, 304, becoming the first martyr, or “protomartyr” of Spain.

~from St. Vincent’s Cathedral (


For more information on the Permanent Diaconate, contact the Office of Vocations.