The diaconate, which was established in the early Church as written in the Acts of the Apostles, seemingly ceased to exist in the Latin Church, but it now flourishes again.
In June 1967, Pope St. Paul VI issued a papal decree that formally restored the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Catholic Church. Now more than 50 years after the decree, there are more than 18,000 permanent deacons in the U.S. and another 15,000 worldwide. The latest issue of Digital Continent features recent MA graduate John P. Kramer’s thesis, “The Historical, Ecclesial, and Theological Development of the Permanent Diaconate.” You can read the issue in its entirety here.
Kramer discusses the permanent diaconate that once existed and its purpose today. He writes, “What was reestablished was the order of deacons as a part of Holy Orders. Men of the Diaconate are ordained into the ministry of the Church, to share in some of the sacramental duties of the clergy. What led to the
reestablishment of this order? Not as some have suggested, as an answer to the declining number of men called to the priesthood, but
instead as an answer to the question: What can the Church contribute to the shaping and building of the world?”
Deacon is derived from diakonos, a Greek word that means “to serve.” As the name suggests, the role is oriented toward service.
Enjoy reading Digital Continent on our website at
cdu.edu/digital-continent-2/ and learn more about the decree and the need for deacons in the Church.