Q. 1. What is a permanent deacon? I mean, how can a deacon be a permanent deacon when this is a step towards the priesthood, at which time the deacon is no longer a deacon, but a priest?
A. 1. A permanent deacon is not the same as a deacon who is studying for the priesthood.
The "permanent diaconate," the ministry of male "permanent deacons," existed in the early Church until the 11 th century. As a result of Vatican II, the permanent diaconate was restored within the Catholic Church.
Permanent deacons, also ordained, become members of the clergy. They are usually married and hold full-time jobs in the community. Permanent deacons, working in the general public, are called to serve among the people, reaching out to those who are spiritually hungry. As the Bishop's helpers, permanent deacons minister to the sick, among widows and orphans, serve immigrants and the exiles, serve abused children, the aged, single parents, the handicapped, the divorced, the alcohol and drug addicts, the homeless, the prisoners, refugees, the poor, the street people, victims of racial and ethnic discrimination, and whatever else the Bishop may bestow upon them.
Permanent deacons do not celebrate Mass, hear Confessions or administer the Sacrament of the Sick. They do proclaim the Gospel, preach and assist in the distribution of Communion. They also administer the Sacrament of Baptism, bring Communion to the dying, officially witness the Church Sacrament of Marriage, officiate at funerals and burial services, gives Benediction with the monstrance or ciborium, and guide and administer the faithful when no priest is resident.
Permanent deacons are not found in every Diocese. Some Bishops have welcomed this new ministry while others did not feel that they had a need for it within their Diocese.