Permanent Deacons

What Is a Permanent Deacon?

Deacons are ordained ministers within the Roman Catholic Church who perform various ministries in support of the Church, usually at a parish-level. Following the Second Vatican Council, the Permanent Diaconate was restored as an ordained ministry in the Church. In the United States, the Diaconate was restored in 1968 and has grown to almost 13,000 deacons and 2,500 men in formation to become deacons. In the Diocese of Helena, we currently have 35 permanent deacons serving in a variety of ministries.

Deacons are best described in Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

“Deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons…. Deacons may be married only once and must manage their children and households well. Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

~ (1 Tm 3:8-13)

Who Would Want to Become a Deacon?

A 45-year old man from rural Montana, married and the father of four helps out at the Parish by distributing Holy Communion at weekend liturgies. He feels moved to serve the Church in a more committed way and is especially interested in assisting the poor.
A 55-year old widower attends a Cursillo, returns to his urban Parish and volunteers to assist at Mass as a Lector. He helps the pastor in many useful ways and finds he enjoys talking about his faith with the Catechumens and fallen away Catholics. He feels a strong call to give more of his time to the building of God’s kingdom.
A 40-year old, single man gives freely of his spare time to help his pastor reach out to the young people of his parish. He sees the great need for committed people to get involved, using their God-given talents, to share the message the Son of God came to give us.

Question: Who are these men and what are they experiencing?
Answer: They are men very much like you; men who love God and love their Church and feel called to serve in a more committed way.

Requirements For Potential Candidates

The following is a list of requirements for those men who wish to apply for the Program of Formation for Permanent Deacons. Should you have questions about any of these requirements, please contact the Coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate Program, Fr. John Robertson.

  • You are 32 years of age or older at this time.
  • You are a practicing Roman Catholic – you were baptized Catholic or have been received into the Church and you continue to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
  • If you were baptized or received into the Catholic Church as an adult, it was more than five years ago.
  • If you are married, your marriage is recognized in the Catholic Church.
  • If you have been divorced, a Church annulment has been granted.
  • You are involved in your parish: by participating actively at liturgy, in parish-related groups, and/or by serving the poor.
  • You have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • You are in good health.
  • You are willing to participate in a program of formation.

What Next?

Men interested in the possibility of becoming a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate should:

  • Take the idea to prayer.
  • Discuss with your family the implications of diaconal service. Do they agree that you should pursue candidacy for the Permanent Diaconate?
  • Contact and begin discussion of the Diaconate with your Pastor or Pastoral Administrator. Do they agree with you?
  • Contact Fr. John Robertson at the Diocese of Helena to request initial forms to begin the formal application process. Email: jrobertson@diocesehelena.org or write to:

P.O. Box 1729
Helena, MT 59624-1729
1-800-584-8914 or 406-442-5820

Office of the Permanent Diaconate

The Coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate supervises the ongoing education and evaluation of permanent deacons, and coordinates annual retreats and other gatherings for the diaconal community.

Program for the Formation of Permanent Deacons

The Coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate coordinates the Program for the Formation of Permanent Deacons (PFPD), which provides a one-year aspirancy period and a three-year academic, spiritual and pastoral formation process, and parish internship for those pursuing ordination to the diaconate.