Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Permanent Diaconate

What is the Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis hands the Book of the Gospels to Deacon Don Fox, a deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, during the celebration of Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 5, 2019. Deacon Fox was living and working in Abu Dhabi at the time of Pope Francis’ visit to the UAE, the first ever visit by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo/Pope Francis Instagram)

The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons prepared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sets forth guidelines to give direction in the selection, discernment and preparation of qualified men for diaconal ministry. Men to be considered for this special ministry should already witness as leaders in the Church. They are called by the Holy Spirit through the Church community; therefore, it is the responsibility of both the man and the community to discern who should be called as deacons to serve the Church.

There are patterns of behavior that give clues to a man’s penchant for diaconal service. They are:

  • Natural inclination to service
  • Psychological integrity
  • Capacity for dialogue, docility and openness
  • Ability to share one’s faith, open to other points of view
  • Capacity to listen carefully
  • Respect of others, religion, race, gender, ethnicity, culture
  • Good communication skills
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Timeliness
  • Self-directed and collaborative, displays accountability
  • Displays balanced and prudent judgment
  • Generosity in service
  • Ability to lead, motivate, facilitate and animate others into action and service­­


There are also spiritual and evangelical qualities prevalent in this special ministry. They are:

  • Sound faith
  • Good Christian reputation
  • Active involvement
  • Personal integrity
  • Maturity
  • Holiness
  • Regular participation in Church’s sacramental life
  • Evidence of recognized, ongoing commitment to Church’s life and service
  • Participation in faith enrichment opportunities
  • Positive and stable marriage, if married
  • Mature celibate state of life, if single
  • Active membership in the Christian community
  • Capacity for obedience and fraternal communion
  • Deep spirituality and prayer life
  • Demonstrates kindness and humility
  • Commitments to family, career, employment, community and Church service
  • Readiness and timeliness of response to a vocation