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Who is the Deacon


"Let them be merciful and zealous, and let them walk according to the truth of the Lord who became servant of all." (St. Polycarp’s admonition to deacons, Lumen Gentium, #29)

The Order of Deacons was restored as a permanent and public ministry in the Roman Church at the Second Vatican Council. The aims of the diaconate are to enrich and strengthen the works of service being performed by the Church, to enlist a new group of devout and competent married and single men in the active ministry of the Church, and to aid in extending needed charitable and liturgical service to the faithful.  Wives of deacons assist in many of these areas. The number of deacons has continued to grow steadily, and there are now more than 16,000 permanent deacons ministering in the United States. There are more than 265 deacons in the Archdiocese of Boston, and 43 men currently in formation.

A Deacon is ordained to the three-fold ministry of Word, Liturgy, and Charity, working in obedience to his bishop and in close fraternal cooperation with priests. Through Holy Orders, the deacon acquires a special relationship to the bishop. While all Christians are called to serve others, the deacon is an icon of the Servant Christ in the Church. The deacon should be a creative leader, one who gradually initiates a meaningful response of loving service from the community to those who are in spiritual or material need.

The Deacon’s ministry of word, liturgy, and charity may include:


The deacon is called personally and ecclesially to serve after the manner of Jesus. He is first and foremost a Christian man in his usual employment and lifestyle, trained and formed by additional study and prayer for a special ministry to the community as an ordained minister. Consideration is given to the following as to a man's suitability for the Diaconate Formation Program:


Application materials and information can be obtained by contacting the Permanent Diaconate Office.  Applications are due by January 31 for consideration for admission to the program that begins in September of a given year.  The application process is lengthy so the process should be started well before the due date.  The formation program is four years in length, and formation classes are held at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization (TINE) in Brighton, located at 149 Washington Street, just behind Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital. (See the inquiry and admissions information here).

The first year of formation is focused on discernment of the vocational call to the diaconate.  This year, referred to as the year of Aspirancy, includes presentations on the ministry of the diaconate, scripture classes, retreats, and spiritual formation.  Meetings take place on Monday and Wednesday evenings from September through April and wives are expected to attend all sessions during this first year.  Programs are also scheduled on occasion specifically for the wives.  Spiritual formation days are held at the Pastoral Center in Braintree once per month on Saturdays for the men.  Years 2-4 consist of a similar meeting schedule but focused on academic courses and pastoral training.  Wives are required to attend a monthly wives’ meeting and are invited (but not required) to attend academic classes during these years.  Pastoral field experiences, including an intensive summer internship at the end of the 3rd year, are also included in the program.  Candidates are evaluated each year to discern their readiness to continue in formation and eventually to ordination.

Our Church is global and multicultural and so we actively seek men for the diaconate from our many cultural communities in the Archdiocese.  We currently have men from the Haitian, Brazilian, Vietnamese, and Latino communities in the program.  In general our academic classes are offered in English.  We offer some academic courses in Spanish every four years, with the next such option starting in September 2014.


More information is available through the diaconate website (, or by contacting us directly:

Deacon Dan Burns
Director of Formation                           617-746-5649



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