Permanent Diaconate

The mission of the Permanent Diaconate Office is to support the mission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis through the recruiting and formation of men for ordination to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate; by providing support for the ministry and life of those already ordained and to expand the opportunities for deacons in the archdiocese to better serve parishes, social service programs, and agencies.



  • Share information. Many people are not sure what a deacon is, what deacons do and why someone would want to become a deacon.
  • Discernment. We know some men are considering the Diaconate as a ministry but are not yet ready for phone conversations or letters, unwanted attention or inclusion on a mailing list. That is okay. The Holy Spirit will guide you in your call to God’s service. If you feel the Holy Spirit is guiding you to the Diaconate, feel free to contact any of the directors. We have shared the journey. If you know a deacon, feel free to contact him to discuss your questions too.
  • Formation. For those involved in formation for the Diaconate, this site provides current information about upcoming classes, retreats, seminars and workshops.
  • Continuing Education. For ordained deacons, this site offers information on continuing education and events, current and archived issues of newsletters, and the Service Acknowledgement Form.

We hope you will always feel free to call us or send an email if you have questions or would like to talk.

For more information about the Formation of Deacons, please contact Deacon Dale Follen at 314.792.7433.


Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) proposed restoring the permanent diaconate, the evolution of its role and formation in the Archdiocese of St. Louis has come a long way.

In 1976, Pope Paul VI called for a restoration of the permanent diaconate within the Latin rite Church.

When a formal, reformed permanent diaconate program was initiated in the archdiocese in January 1977, Catholic men went through a two-year formation program, with a third year of post-ordination formation.

Since then, the program has gradually expanded to five years of formation, plus three more years of post-ordination formation.

There currently are 196 active deacons ordained for the archdiocese. 

Permanent deacons are ordained ministers who exercise a ministry of liturgy, word, and charity. Some also may earn faculties to preach homilies at Mass. 

Deacons serve in parishes, hospitals and archdiocesan agencies, among other areas. Many continue to work full-time jobs and balance their family lives and professions with their ministry as a deacon.

Ministry of the Permanent Diaconate

The diaconate had its origin in the first century when the early Church was being established and a need for catechesis and service to others was recognized. After flourishing for 400 years, the diaconate declined and became little more than a transitional step to priesthood. The Second Vatican Council, held 1962-65, restored this ministry of service to its original purpose.

Deacons share in the sacrament of Orders with bishops and priests. In the United States, there are more than 13,000 deacons serving primarily in parishes. The work of the deacon is defined as ministry of Liturgy, Word, and Charity.


The deacon assists the priest at Mass. He may administer the sacrament of Baptism, witness and bless marriages, officiate at funerals and burial services, minister at the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and preside at Communion liturgies where a priest is not present. This service at the altar is a sign and symbol of the Church's commitment to those in the parish and the community.


The deacon proclaims the Gospel. After further study he may receive from his bishop the faculty or authority to preach. His reading of the gospel is only one aspect of proclaiming the Word of God. The deacon endeavors to turn the Word into deed in his daily life.


This ministry of love and justice is the heart of the diaconate. In St. Louis, nearly 200 deacons serving in parishes also are involved as hospital and prison chaplains, assist the homeless on the streets and in soup kitchens, minister to the divorced and widowed, advance pro-life causes, and counsel and serve, particularly those who are on the margins of society.

The deacon's response is not to move away from the secular world, but to become more involved in it. His daily dress is not different, but his manner of living demonstrates a caring for others and a living expression of the gospel of Jesus.



Prayer for Deacons

Sts. Stephen, Lawrence, and Francis of Assisi are patron saints of the diaconate community. St. Stephen, the protomartyr, was among the first deacons of the Church, martyred for his bold proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ. St. Lawrence, martyred in the 3rd century, was a deacon in Rome known for his care and concern for the poor. St. Francis of Assisi, founder of all Franciscan orders, was an ordained deacon. The Prayer of St. Francis is a central part of diaconal charism.


St. Louis Review stories about permanent deacons