How to address a Deacon

I should know this - so I’m a embarrassed that I need to ask:

We have a new Deacon at our parish (we just had the parish priest before) - how do I address him? He introduced himself as “Robert”, but should I call him “Deacon Robert”, “Deacon” or just Robert?

I have spoken a few times with him since (hence my embarrassment) and have, inadvertently, started the conversation with “Hi Robert…”.

Many thanks,

If Roman Catholic, Deacon

If Eastern Catholic, Father Deacon

In the RC you should address him as “Rev. Mr. Last name”. Calling him “Deacon Last Name” is a common way to address a deacon but no the proper one. I think that familiar terms as first name basis only could be acceptable in some specific situations (e.g. your best buddy is a deacon and you are screaming at the TV while watching a game)

If he is a transitional deacon (moving on to the priesthood) the proper address is Reverend Mister (name).

If he is a permanent deacon the proper address is Deacon (name).

It’s kind of funny that you ask this, I see the faces of the people whom I’ve know for years come up to me after I was ordained in December last year and they just don’t know what to call me. I have a standing joke with many people that the proper way to address “the deacon” is, “Reverend Mr. Deacon sir Gary, Father Deacon Sir”. It’s because I get all these titles thrown at me, yes even father. I’ve been called father probably more often then anything else, even before ordination serving as acolyte.

My home parish is much like you describe, priest only, never have we had a deacon assigned here.

This is what I tell everybody. The formal title is Reverend Mr. Gary, however our bishop has made it policy to allow the use of this title only for transitional deacons, not permanent deacons; so to people who have known me for years as Mr. Gary, I say call me that. But when I am being introduced to a group as a deacon, such as talks and the like, I would like to be introduced as Deacon Gary.

Most call me Deacon and not Mr., but it’s all good. Just talk to your deacon, he’ll probably have a good laugh about it with you then let you know how he would like to be addressed.

I work a lot in youth ministry with teens and I like them to address me as Deacon Gary rather than Mr. Gary, it’s who I am now. When they address me as such, it reminds me of this fact and that I must fill that role with dignity and the love of Christ in my heart.

So if I had a choice of what I would like everyone to call me, it would be Deacon, or Deacon Gary. However, if a friend or anybody who normally called me by my first name would continue doing so, I would not correct them. Some of my brother deacons don’t want that, but I think the sacred order of the diaconate deserves the respect of all of us too. JMHO

Is this a formal definition or a common usage one? If it is formal it seems to imply a difference that does not exist.

From the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States

Clerical Title
88. While various forms of address have emerged with regard to
deacons, the Congregation for the Clergy has determined that in all
forms of address for permanent deacons, the appropriate title is

Formally, any deacon is: “Rev. Mr Name” (Reverend Mister Name)
Informally any deacon is: “Deacon Name”

In our diocese, The Policies and Procedures Relating to the Permanent Diaconate
reflect the USCCB statement that for a permanent deacon the proper address should be deacon while the title Reverend Mister should be reserved to transitional deacons. :shrug:

But isn’t restricting deacons their proper title akin to restricting permanent deacons from wearing clericals? Anyways, there’s really no real difference between permanent and transitional deacons.

Same for our diocese. It is written in our handbook for permanent deacons to the affect; “the title of Rev. Mr. is no longer appropriate for use when addressing permanent deacons.”

This is in line with USCCB guidelines. I personally don’t have an issue with this.

I think we have had this discussion before, deacons are exempt from wearing clerical colars in canon law, along with a few other points…I’ll be right back. Going open the book.

As far as I know Transitional Deacons can not be married.

In our diocese we are not allowed to wear clerical garb as per the USCCB statement regarding the local Ordinary is the competent authority to decide on this matter. Hey I just do what I’m told.:wink:

Thanks for showing that it is a formal definition and not simply a common usage one.

I’m not talking about the requirement, just simply the permission to wear them.

In some places, I hear perm. deacons can’t wear them even if they wanted to.

Can. 288 The prescripts of cann. 284, 285, §§3 and 4, 286, and 287, §2 do not bind permanent deacons unless particular law establishes otherwise.

Can. 284 Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs.
Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.
§2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.
§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
§4. Without the permission of their ordinary, they are not to take on the management of goods belonging to lay persons or secular offices which entail an obligation of rendering accounts. They are prohibited from giving surety even with their own goods without consultation with their proper ordinary. They also are to refrain from signing promissory notes, namely, those through which they assume an obligation to make payment on demand.
Can. 286 Clerics are prohibited from conducting business or trade personally or through others, for their own advantage or that of others, except with the permission of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 287 §1. Most especially, clerics are always to foster the peace and harmony based on justice which are to be observed among people.
§2. They are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labor unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good requires it.

Canon law sees a difference between TDs and PDs, so does the Church.


Then again, I’ve never really trusted the USCCB. Lest I get banned, PM me and I’ll explain more if you’re curious.

I gotcha…we are prohibited from wearing clerical colars at any time in or out of ministry. The TDs wear them always, as do priests. This is a right given to the local ordinary, which our’s has made the policy.

So as Dcn. Bill stated, we do what we are told.

Ask him how he would like to be addressed.