The Permanent Diaconate

The Permanent Diaconate is a distinct vocation, or calling, to imitate Christ in His service to all humanity, to bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world.

The diaconate was established at the time of the apostles. In the early Church, some men were called to become deacons, ordained ministers who served the people of God under the direction of the Bishop. As a response to the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, the Bishops of Canada reactivated the order of permanent deacons in 1969. In February 2011, Archbishop J. Michael Miller officially restored the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Deacons are called to serve. The title “deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonos,” which means “servant.” Though all Christians by baptism are called to “diakonia,” or service, deacons serve as a public sacramental sign of Christ in and at the service of the world.

Like a priest, a permanent deacon is a member of the clergy who shares in the ministry of the Bishop. Unlike a priest, he may also have a wife, a family, and a secular job. 

Read Archbishop Miller's Pastoral Letter on Restoration of the Permanent Diaconate Program (February 2011)

What do permanent deacons do?

A permanent deacon is just as engaged in his ministry when he is at home or at work. He is a permanent sign of Christ the Servant, no matter where he is, or what he is doing. Permanent deacons do not celebrate Mass, hear confessions, or anoint the sick; they extend the sacramental presence of Christ’s service outside of the Church and into the secular world. Diaconal service is modeled after the threefold apostolic ministry of the Bishop:

Ministry of Charity
A permanent deacon personally serves the poor, the aged, the sick, and the imprisoned, bringing the Gospel to all those in need. He preaches and practices social justice.
Ministry of Word
Permanent deacons proclaim the Gospel and preach at liturgical celebrations. They provide catechetical instruction, adult faith formation, and sacramental preparation.
Ministry of Sacrament
Permanent Deacons assist priests during Mass, administer baptisms, witness marriages, preside at funerals and wakes, officiate at Benediction and lead community prayer services.

Information from the Permanent Diaconate Office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver