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Diaconate Ministry

Diaconate Ministry

The Diocese of Palm Beach Diaconate Ministry is supported by the  Office of Permanent Diaconate and directs the Diaconate Formation Program and continuing formation of Permanent Diaconate with education and support to the Deacons and their families.

What is a Deacon?1

A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. There are three groups, or “orders,” of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters and deacons. Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” The entire Church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.

What are these “various ministries” of the Deacon?1
All ordained ministers in the Church are called to functions of Word, Sacrament, and Charity, but bishops, presbyters and deacons exercise these functions in various ways. As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacraments, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs. Deacons are also dedicated to eliminating the injustices or inequities that cause such needs. But no matter what specific functions a deacon performs, they flow from his sacramental identity. In other words, it is not only WHAT a deacon does, but WHO a deacon is, that is important.

1According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at

Facts on the Permanent Diaconate2

  • There are approximately 20,000 permanent deacons in the United States
  • Approximately 70% are active in ministry in the United States

Demographic Characteristics of Active Deacons

  • 93% are married. 4% are widowers, and 2% have never married
  • 77% are at least 50 years old.
  • 19% are in their 50’s
  • 41% are in their 60’s
  • 36% are 70 or older
  • 76% are non-Hispanic whites. 18% are Hispanic or Latino.
  • 3% are African American
  • 3% are Asian
  • 67% have at least a college degree. ~12% have a graduate degree in a field related to religion or ministry.

2Data from the May 2023 Report to the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life & Vocations and USCCB