Becoming a deacon

How does one become a deacon in the Catholic Church and what are the requirements?

Les see if I can remember.

Must be a 35 year old male

If Married, you can not marry again if your wife dies.

You’ll need to check with the dioceses. Generally, they have an office of the Permanent Diaconate.

In my dioceses, you must now have a college education.

You and your spouse(if married), must go through 3 interviews as a couple. One is by the vocation director, the second is by an assigned priest in the Dioceses and the third is in your home, by a team of deacons and their wives.

If accepted into discernment, you and your wife will attend two classes per week, for 12 weeks. These classes consist of Church history on the diaconate and discernment. They also have ordained deacons and their wives come in and talk to the class and answer questions. There is also some psychological screening that you and your wife go through. In addition to the 12 weeks, you must attend a Sunday workshop, once per month.

After 12 weeks, if you are accepted and desire to continue into formation, its 5 years of classes in theology, liturgy and history, two nights per week during the fall and winter. In the summer there is a slight break, but the final year, your assigned to a parish as an acolyte.

In all, its grueling, but even if you go through just the discernment period, its a win-win situation, even if you decide like I did, that the diaconate was not your call.

Bottom line, check with your diocesan vocation directors office.

God Bless

On a related note…

I’ve heard that some religious orders ordain deacons. Does anybody know which ones, if any, do?

Also, I’ve heard that you can begin the discernment process when you’re 29, since it takes 6 years to complete. Is this true?

I’m only 21, so I’ve got some time to wait, but it’s something I’ve been considering for the future.

Pax Tecum,

You need to contact your local diocese for information.

I wanted to add that I believe deacons can marry after their spouse dies with special dispensation from the bishop. This is normally done for deacons with small children.

The age criteria is to insure that the man has his priorities straight and puts his family first.

I might humbly suggest you check out my blog (link below), I entered into the first year this year, and I have several posts there on the detail of requirements, pre-requisites, the agenda for the four years, workload, and more so far (there is some variation by diocese but this should give you an excellent start, I found it hard to find a lot of info when I was thinking about starting).

I hope it’s helpful, and please PM me if you have any questions you would like to ask!

It is my understanding that there are not absolutes set as to the training, but I don’t have specific evidence of the variations. Our archdiocese requires a Masters degree as part of the training.

I am a bit surpirsed to see this posted in this thread…it is my understanding and please correct me if wrong that this deaconage is a modern novelty…

Prior to the Vatican 2 , a deacon was a step away from ordination as a priest not an end in itself…

A deacon is the bishop’s servant, whilst a priest is the bishop’s assistant.
So the main qualification for being a deacon is a willingness to do a lot of the routine work the bishop needs, such as checking financial accounts, chasing up repairs, making sure that charitable distributions are being used for their proper purpose, and so on.

There is also a great need for reliable men to do semi-pastoral work, like running youth clubs.

The deacons are also expected to preach, and to conduct weddings, funerals and baptisms, which isn’t really felt appropriate for a layperson, though a layperson can if fact, for instance, validly baptise.

In practise the bishop will demand a certain amount of basic theological training, maybe two or three years part time study. Married deacons will need the support of their wives and to be of mature age, simply for the practicalities. Unmarried deacons won’t be allowed to marry and can be any age (past childhood).

If you can do all that, you might want to enquire about the deaconate. Obviously you’ve got to be a Catholic in good standing, and not a potential source of scandal. The main hurdle is the theology, however. A lot of otherwise good candidates are not up to it intellectually, though it is not as demanding as a full theology degree and you don’t need to be exceptionally academic to pass.

Actually the permanent diaconate goes back to the early Church for the first 4 centuries.

According to the history I was given, deacons were the eyes and ears of the Bishop. They reported directly to the Bishop and often would report the mis-deeds of priest. As a result, they had more power than a priest, which was resented. Eventually, as sufficient numbers of priest were reached, there was a move to do away with the diaconate and it stayed that way until recently.

FYI, deacons who are in the process of becoming priest, are called transitional deacons.


What if your wife isn’t Catholic, Mine is Orthodox (not in communion with Rome). How does this affect things?

I believe in the Chaldean rite to become a deacon its not that much schooling. Just a few months or so…is this true?

I suspect at the bottom line, it will be the decision of the bishop.

We have an individual in our parish who is thinking of applying; his wife is a practicing baptist. They have two children; one is in college and the other in high school (which gives some hint as to his age). As he has not applied yet, it will remain to be seen.

No, it isn’t. Canon Law for the Eastern Churches (The CCEO) requires 3 years training for the deacon candidate.

Canon 354

The formation of deacons not destined for the priesthood is to be appropriately adapted from the norms given above so that the curriculum of studies extends at least three years keeping in mind the traditions of their own Church sui iuris concerning the service of the liturgy, the word and charity.

The permanent deacon fell out of use in the west after the middle ages. In the eastern churches, we have always had permanent deacons. Its not a novelty but a return to an authentic tradition.

Welcome to CAF! Its not always easy to get answers on diaconate formation. I’m starting the interview process for the diaconate in my diocese and still don’t know all the requirements. I know it does vary a bit from diocese to diocese.

They all require 4-5 years of classes either at a Catholic college or through the diocese. Fortunately, my diocese provides the classes.

The age requirement is approx 35-60 to be a deacon, but they make decisions on an individual basis. I will be 32 when the actual classes start, but they seem OK with that as I would be 36 at the time of ordination.

JimR-OCDS gives the gist of the formation process as I understand it. It is a big commitment and having he full support of your wife is crucial.

There will be a great need for deacons in the comming years, espicially with the shortage of priests. My diocese projects going from about 100 priests to 55 in the next 15 years with over 90 parishes. They are already planning to have deacons serve as full time pastoral administrators to handle the day to day operations of a parish.

Please pray for all deacons, those in formation, and those of us discerning the call.

God Bless

Hi All,

I see this thread last activated in 2007…Is there anyone
still manning the discussion?

further questions? ask them.

Does a married aspirant to deaconage have an issue with celibacy?

Once ordained to the deaconate, a man may no longer validly receive the sacrament of matrimony. If married prior, that marriage remains in force as long as both live.

in extremely rare occasions, Rome has granted permission for Deacons who were widowed to remarry for the good of small children of said deacon. Less often, but still rare, widowed deacons have been laicized and permitted a new marriage.

Thanks for your answer.

Let me be more specific.

A widower meets a widow and marries.

As a possible future Deacon, will they have to be celibate in marriage in order that
he may become a deacon?