Permanent Diaconate

Permanent deacons
bringing Christ to the world

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The Second Vatican Council reinvigorated the ancient order of deacons, reinstituting the permanent diaconate. By calling and ordaining deacons the Church is saying something fundamental: that service is at the heart of the human and divine mystery. Deacons are a permanent feature of the Church and the Church is not fully herself wherever deacons, priests or bishops are lacking. Pope Francis is named after the most famous deacon in history. Historically, the deacon served as the eyes and ears of the bishop and in practical ways as the heart and hands. He is a ‘go-between’ as it were between the secular and the Church.

Deacons are intermediaries, informing the community of the bishop’s wishes and, in return, conveying what the community reflects to the bishop. It is a ministry that extends well beyond the walls of the church. The role does not detract from the vital role of an empowered lay faithful, and it should enrich it. A vibrant diaconate will enhance and expand the ministry of the priesthood.

"Deacons are a permanent feature of the Church"

The gift and calling of the deacon is not for his own sake but for building up the Church in particular ways:

  • To bring God's Word to believer and unbeliever alike;
  • To preside over public prayer, to baptise, to assist at marriages and bless them;
  • To give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial;
  • Once he is consecrated by the laying on of hands, he will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop; and
  • To celebrate faithfully the liturgy of the hours for the Church and for the whole world.

In their active involvement in the community, their outreach to the poor and marginalised, and their fostering of Eucharistic communion, deacons sacramentalise the Church’s service. The support of a deacon’s family is vital and essential for anyone contemplating the ordained ministry of the permanent diaconate.

Criteria for the permanent diaconate

Have you thought about becoming a permanent deacon?

The Diocese of Parramatta has ten men ordained as permanent deacons who serve in various ministries in parishes, prisons and hospitals. Another seven men are in formation in the diaconate program (current December 2017). Permanent deacons are ordained ministers of the Catholic Church. Most men ordained as permanent deacons are married men. The order of deacons is collectively called the diaconate.

The Diocese of Parramatta welcomes applications from men who meet the following criteria applicable to this vocation:

  • Mature and informed Catholic faith, sound moral character, prayerfulness and a sense of vocation to service;
  • Openness to personal, spiritual, theological and ministerial formation, normally over at least four years;
  • Involved in an active and positive way in parish life or other apostolic activity for several years and upon recommendation of the parish priest or other appropriate priest who has witnessed this involvement;
  • Other appropriate ‘people skills’ or ‘pastoral’ experience
  • (normally) able to complete tertiary studies in theology;
  • If single or widowed, willing to accept celibacy;
  • Able to undertake formation and future ministry without detriment to family and work;
  • If married, supported by a practicing Catholic wife;
  • Adequate physical and mental health; and
  • Usually aged between 35 and 55 years.


How can I find out more?