The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta  

Father Neil Herlihy (then a Transitional Deacon), Deacon Jesus Nerio and Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory at the Archbishop's Installation Mass. Photo by Stanley Leary/Archdiocese of Atlanta

Permanent Diaconate

Greetings from Archbishop Gregory

The Archdiocese of Atlanta is blessed with a wonderful cadre of Deacons who serve this local Church with generosity and zeal. The mission of Christ is foremost in their hearts and they respond to the needs of their sisters and brothers with uncommon dedication. I thank each of them and their families for the services that they render so effectively.

Wilton D. Gregory,
Archbishop of Atlanta

What Is A Deacon?

Deacons represent the Catholic Church in its calling as servant in the world. By struggling in Christ's name with the myriad needs of societies and persons, deacons exemplify the interdependence of worship and service in the Church's life. The deacon reveals the servant hood of Christ in which the people are to share.

There are two kinds of deacons in the Catholic Church. The transitional deacon, who is preparing for priesthood, and the permanent deacon, a deeply spiritual and prudent man, who after years of study and training, assists the Pastor and serves the Church and its people.

Permanent deacons are representatives of Jesus Christ who minister to God's church. Strengthened by sacramental grace they have as their service for the people of God, ministry of the liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity. He is the guardian of the true treasures of the Church -- the Body and the Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ and the people of his church.

Pope Paul VI outlined the deacon's role as follows:

  1. to assist the bishop and priests during liturgical services in regard to all those matters assigned to the deacon by the liturgical books for the various rights;
  2. to administer baptism solemnly...
  3. to reserve the Eucharist and to give communion to himself and others, to bring viaticum to the dying; to give benediction with the monstrance or ciborium;
  4. to assist marriage in the name of the Church, when no priest is available, and, with the bishop's or pastor's delegation, to impart the nuptial blessing...
  5. to administer sacramentals and preside at funerals and burial rites;
  6. to read the books of Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the congregation;
  7. to preside at offices of worship and prayer services, when no priest is available;
  8. to lead celebrations of the work, especially in places where there is a lack of priests.
  9. Such is the liturgical service deacons render to God and God's people in the celebration of the Eucharist, other sacramental rites, and communal prayer.