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5.14 Clergy – Deacons​​

This section sets forth policies in the archdiocese that apply to the ministry of all deacons who serve in parishes and other archdiocesan locations, whether they are diocesan, religious order, or extern deacons.

The policies and procedures of this section are applications of the universal law of the Church contained in the Code of Canon Law and elsewhere and are subordinate to those norms. The section is part of the Administrative Handbook; it does not replace any policies or procedures except where indicated.  In case of a conflict between this section and other policies, the vicar for clergy should be consulted for a resolution. The archbishop in his role as chief shepherd of the archdiocese may allow for a waiver when such an exception serves the needs of the local Church and is consistent with the norms of the Church.


​1.1              The History of the Diaconate

The diaconate has its origins in the apostolic times and flourished in the first four centuries of the Church's history.  Later, for very complex reasons, the diaconate, as a ministry in its own right, went into decline and eventually became a temporary step on the path to the priesthood in the western Church.

The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) restored the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Church for three primary reasons: First, to restore to the Church the full complement of active apostolic ministries; second, to integrate and strengthen those who were, in fact, already exercising diaconal functions; and third, to provide ministers for those regions where functions vital to the Church's life could not be carried out effectively. 

Lumen Gentium states that deacons are ordained "'not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.' For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests, they serve in the diaconate of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity to the people of God. It is the duty of the deacon to administer baptism solemnly, to be custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, to assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, to officiate at funeral and burial services. Dedicated to duties of charity and of administration, let deacons be mindful of the admonition of Blessed Polycarp: 'Be merciful, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who became the servant of all.'"  Lumen Gentium 29

1.2      The Ministerial Life of the Deacon

The sacrament of holy orders marks deacons with an indelible character which configures them to Christ, who made himself the 'deacon' or servant of all.  Deacons, sustained by the grace of this sacrament and in communion with the bishop and his priests, are at the service of the people of God in the three-fold ministry of the altar, of the Word and of charity.

Deacons, both married and celibate, serve God's people by their witness to the Gospel value of sacrificial love, a quality of life too easily dismissed in today's society. In their secular employment, deacons also make evident the dignity of human work.

1.2.1    Minister of the Altar

The deacon, in exercising his ministry of the altar, leads or assists the community in worship and helps bring Christ's redemptive gift of himself to the people.  By participating in the Church's liturgy, the deacon draws the strength to sustain his own Christian life, obtains the grace to carry out his ministry, and reminds the faithful of their own baptismal call to serve as Jesus did.

1.2.2    Minister of the Word

The deacon, in exercising his ministry of the Word, proclaims the Gospel during the liturgy, and brings the good news of the Gospel into the world where he lives and works.  His involvement in secular life provides him with unique insights that help lead the Church to a richer and deeper appreciation of the faith by which it lives.

1.2.3    Minister of Charity

The deacon, in exercising his ministry of charity, acts as "the eyes and ears, the mouth, heart, and soul of the bishop."  Accordingly, deacons identify the spiritually and materially needy, report their needs to the bishop and the Church, and direct the Church's loving service to them, thereby representing the care of Christ the Servant.

1.3       The Spiritual Life of the Deacon

Deacons are obliged to give priority to the spiritual life and to live their diaconal life with generosity.  They should integrate their family obligations, professional life, and ministerial responsibilities so as to grow in their commitment to the person and mission of Christ the Servant.  Clerics have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives because they are consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders as dispensers of God's mysteries in the service of His people.

1.3.1    Life of Prayer

The deacon is obligated to recite daily at least Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) of the Liturgy of the Hours. (Canon 276, §2)  In addition, the deacon will devote himself to reading and meditating on the Word of God and frequently receive the sacrament of holy Eucharist and the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.

1.3.2    Annual Retreat

The deacon is obligated to take part in an annual spiritual retreat offered by or approved by the Office of Deacons in Ministry. (Canon 276, §4)

1.3.3    Spiritual Direction

The deacon is expected to seek out and regularly meet with a qualified spiritual director, who can assist the deacon in his desire to grow spiritually in a whole and healthy manner.

1.3.4    Support Groups

By virtue of ordination, a sacramental fraternity unites deacons; therefore, deacons are encouraged to gather in small groups to pray and offer mutual support.  These groups may be based on geography (e.g., deanery), age, marital status, ordination class, etc., and, where appropriate, may include the wives and widows of deacons.

1.4 The Family Life of the Deacon

The men God calls to the diaconate come from all walks of life.  The family of every deacon becomes an integral part of his ministry following his ordination.  He has to balance the needs of his family and his work with the demands of his ministry.  Although this can be challenging, a functioning and thriving family life is a necessary source of strength and support the deacon needs to be effective in his ministry.   The family is the "domestic church", and it is out of this church that his vocation grows and exists.

1.4.1    Married Deacons

The majority of permanent deacons in the United States are married and bring to the sacrament of holy orders the gifts already received through their participation in the sacrament of marriage.  The deacon and his wife become a living example of fidelity and indissolubility in Christian marriage before a world in dire need of such signs.  By facing the demands of daily living in a spirit of faith, they strengthen family life not only within the Church community, but throughout the whole of society.  They also show how the obligations of family life, work and ministry can be harmonized in the service of the Church's mission.  The married deacon must always remember that through his participation in both vocational sacraments, first in matrimony and again in holy orders, he is challenged to be faithful to both.  He now must involve his wife and family intimately in both, while giving priority to being a husband, and when applicable, a father.

The deacon's wife is an integral part of the diaconate community within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  She must give her consent before her husband can even apply to enter the formation process.  She is required to fully participate with him throughout the entire formation process, so that husband and wife can grow together and discern what their family's priorities will be as they transition into their new life together as a deacon couple, always aware that diaconal ministry succeeds only in the context of a good marital and spiritual balance. Deacon wives are always invited and encouraged to attend and participate, as much as possible, in any ministerial, spiritual, educational or social opportunities offered to their husbands

1.4.2    Celibate Deacons

The Church acknowledges the gift of celibacy that God grants to certain of its members. Those who wholeheartedly embrace and live it, demonstrate a total and undivided consecration to Christ and his Church, and a greater freedom to serve God and his people. 

Each deacon, even those deacons who are married, need to understand the nature of celibacy, its values and its practice, as this will help him prepare for the possibility of living a celibate lifestyle in the event his wife predeceases him.  Likewise, a celibate man must be fully at peace with his chosen lifestyle and understand that the reception of holy orders will forever preclude him from entering into the sacrament of marriage.

1.4.3    Widowed Deacons

The death of a married deacon's wife is a particular moment in life which calls for faith and Christian hope because it introduces a new reality into the daily routine of the deacon's family and ministry.   Upon the death of a deacon's wife, the deacon, or someone close to him, shall notify the Director of Deacons, who will inform the larger church community, so that they may offer prayers, comfort and support. 

As the widowed deacon assesses and accepts his new personal circumstances, he must carefully consider his obligations to his family and, in particular, any needs they may have.  The widowed deacon should not hesitate to seek professional counsel and spiritual direction to assist him in the grieving process and adjust to his new role as a single man.

Note:   Canon 1087 expressly prohibits one in holy orders from entering into marriage.

Therefore, a married deacon whose wife precedes him in death is committed to a life of celibacy and cannot remarry.  Dispensation from this law is rare and can be granted only by the Holy See. 

1.4.4    Deacon Widows

For a deacon wife, the death of her husband calls for a uniquely pastoral response from the diaconate community.  Diaconal ministry has its very roots in caring for widows (see Acts 6:1-6).  Even more so, the widow of a deacon needs to be shown that type of communal love and support.

Widows of deacons remain vital and integral members of the diaconate community and ought to remain connected with it, not only because of the support and encouragement it can provide, but also because of the unique bonds that are forged by the couple during their formation and ministry journey.

Deacon widows are invited and encouraged to participate in the many social gatherings that the deacon community engages in: deacon ordinations, deacon Christmas Party, deacon Memorial Mass, as well as regional events hosted by the local deacon councils.

1.4.5    Marriages Experiencing Difficulties

Difficulties within the marriage relationship can and do happen.  When these difficulties occur, the deacon and his wife are encouraged to seek appropriate help, including counseling, therapy, spiritual direction, etc.  Participation in the Retrovaille program, a Christian-based ministry committed to the continued healing of marriages is also strongly encouraged.  (

Because of the importance of the marital relationship to a married deacon's ministry, prior to approaching civil authorities, the deacon and/or his wife should notify the deacon's pastoral supervisor and the Director of Deacons of serious issues that could jeopardize their marriage bond.  In this way, the couple may receive appropriate support and assistance.  The archbishop may approve a leave of absence from diaconal ministry when necessary to help resolve the difficulties the couple are experiencing.  During the leave, the deacon and/or his wife will provide the Director of Deacons with periodic updates as to the status of their situation.

1.4.6    Separated/Divorced Deacons

Despite a couple's best efforts at reconciliation, separation and/or divorce between a deacon and his wife can happen.  In this situation, suitable pastoral care should be offered to the deacon, his wife, and their children.  This pastoral care, which may be facilitated by the Director of Deacons or any other qualified person on behalf of the archbishop, should include ample time to work through the various stages of grieving and adjustment caused by divorce. 

For this reason, any deacon who is separated from his wife will have his situation reviewed by the Vicar for Clergy, who will determine the appropriate path forward with regard to the deacon's ministry.

A deacon who is separated or divorced, even if he subsequently receives an annulment, may not remarry.



2.1       Organizational Structure

The archbishop has established the Office of Deacons in Ministry to assist him in all aspects of diaconal ministry.  The Office of Deacons in Ministry, under the direction of the Vicar for Clergy and led by the Director of Deacons, is responsible for all matters pertaining to the formation, ministry, and life of permanent deacons in the archdiocese.  Significant decisions affecting these matters always require the approval of the archbishop himself.

deacon structure.jpg

2.2       The Director of Deacons

The Director of Deacons, assisted in his duties by the Director of Deacon Formation and the Deacon Council:

  • Oversees the recruitment, formation and evaluation of deacon candidates
  • Manages the granting of diaconal assignments and faculties
  • Assists deacons with their educational, pastoral and spiritual development
  • Resolves issues arising from the deacon's ministry and life, and
  • Administers all aspects of the Office of Deacons in Ministry 

2.3       The Director of Deacon Formation

The Director of Deacon Formation, assisted in his duties by the staff of the Deacon Formation office:​

  • Recruits prospective applicants and assists them in their inquiry
  • Oversees the application process, including the evaluation and selection of applicants for aspirancy
  • Manages the aspirant discernment process, including the evaluation and selection of aspirants for candidacy
  • Directs the candidate formation process, including the evaluation and selection of candidates for ordination
  • Administers all aspects of the Office of Diaconate Formation


3.1       Role of the Council

The Deacon Council, an elected body representing the deacon community in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:

  • Assists and advises the Director of Deacons in assuring the well-being of the diaconate community
  • Serves as a voice for regional deacon communities by raising issues with deacon leadership
  • Disseminates information to the regional deacon communities
  • Coordinates archdiocesan and regional deacon gatherings (e.g., St. Lawrence Day Mass, Memorial Mass and Christmas Party, B-B-Q's, etc.)
  • Advises the Director of Deacons on:
    • Recruitment, formation and selection of deacon candidates
    • Continuing education/formation of deacons
    • Spiritual growth and retreats for deacons
    • Any other matters of concern pertaining to diaconal ministry

3.2       Council Membership

The Deacon Council consists of the following members:

  • Five elected Regional Representatives and five elected alternates *
  • The Director of Deacons (ex-officio)
  • The Director of Deacon Formation (ex-officio)
  • Representatives of standing committees (ex-officio) as determined by the Director of Deacons

*  Wives of elected/appointed members are invited to all council meetings/events

3.3       Council Officers

The Deacon Council shall elect the following Officers:

Council Chairperson - the chairperson shall be elected by the council to preside at all council meetings and to serve as the principal contact between the council and the Director of Deacons.  The chairperson, in coordination with the Director of Deacons, establishes the agenda for the meetings.  The chairperson, or a delegate approved by the Director of Deacons, shall represent the council on other archdiocesan councils as needed (e.g., the archdiocesan Pastoral Council). Any duly elected representative or alternate, with one full year of council service, may stand for election to chairperson.

Council Secretary - The secretary shall be elected by the council to document and distribute council meeting minutes and meeting notices to all council members.  Any duly elected representative or alternate may stand for election to secretary.

Elections for both officers shall be held in January for one-year terms, which are renewable.  A special election shall be held to replace an officer of the council who cannot complete his term of office.

3.4       Election of Representatives

Any deacon who is in good standing and who lives in or has his diaconal assignment in a given region, is eligible to stand for election for representative for that region, provided he has not exceeded the term limits as described above.  A deacon candidate shall notify his alternate or regional representative of his intention to stand for election.  No name shall be placed in nomination without the candidate's consent. 

The current regional representative is responsible for soliciting candidates and conducting an election for the vacant position.  A vote of all the deacons assigned to that region shall be conducted by secret ballot, and may be administered through regular mail, electronic mail, by a vote at a regional gathering of deacons, or any combination thereof.  The voting method which maximizes participation in the election should be selected. 

Regional elections shall be conducted by the end of August per the following schedule:

San Fernando Region:                        Odd years

San Gabriel Region:                            Odd years

Santa Barbara Region:                        Even years

San Pedro Region:                              Even years

Our Lady of the Angels Region:         Even years

3.5       Terms of Office

The term for elected members shall be four years; the first two years as alternate and the second two years as regional representative (except as stated otherwise below).  Elections shall be held during the month of August, with results presented and approved at a full meeting of the council.  Newly elected members shall be introduced at the last council meeting of the year.   Exchange of position shall take place the following January. 

a.   Succession - In the event a regional representative resigns or is unable to serve out his term (as determined by vote of the council) the alternate shall assume the position of regional representative.  A new alternate shall then be elected to assume the balance of the term.  The newly elected alternate and the new regional representative will serve the balance of the unexpired terms before they serve the two-year term for which they have been elected.  In the event an alternate resigns or is unable to serve out his term (as determined by vote of the council) a new election shall be called.  The newly elected alternate shall serve out the balance of the alternate's term and then serve two years as regional representative. 

b.   Vacancy:  A position is deemed to be "vacant" when the council chairperson or Director of Deacons receives a letter of resignation from a regional representative or alternate.  The position may also be deemed "vacant" when a member is found to be unable to serve, as determined by a majority vote of the council at a general, or specially called meeting. 

c.   Re-Election: A deacon may serve up to two consecutive four-year terms if so elected by the deacons of the region.  A deacon who has served two four-year terms is eligible for election again after a two year period off the council.  Should a regional representative seek re-election to the position of alternate or regional representative, he shall appoint another deacon to be responsible for conducting the election and notifying the Director of Deacons of the results.

3.6       Role of Representatives

 The regional representatives and alternates, together with their wives, are spiritual, social and ministerial leaders of the diaconate community in their pastoral regions.  This is an important ministry to the diaconate community and will require significant time and involvement.  These representatives are responsible for facilitating communications in all matters concerning the regional diaconate family.  Specific activities of the regional representatives and alternates include, but are not limited to:​

a.   Meeting at least four times a year with the Director of Deacons (or his representative) to discuss current spiritual and ministerial concerns, personnel issues, and administrative duties within the regional diaconate community.  A yearly calendar of these meeting dates shall be set each January.

b.   Holding regular (quarterly is recommended) well-planned meetings for the deacons and deacon wives of their region.  The meetings, spread throughout the year, are intended to encourage engagement and participation in the regional diaconate community, and should include opportunities for ministerial and spiritual enrichment, as well as for fun and socializing.  The auxiliary bishop should be encouraged to attend regional deacon gatherings whenever possible.

c.   Identifying and recruiting potential deacons to serve as deanery leaders, and meeting with current deanery leaders at least quarterly to support and foster deacon participation at a local level. 

d.   Meeting and interacting with the regional leadership: the auxiliary bishop, his assistant, his deans and local ministry leaders.

e.   Supporting the Director of Diaconate Formation in the recruitment, evaluation and mentoring of deacon candidates.

f.    Maintaining a workable e-mail list and telephone tree within the region to disseminate important information to the deacons of that region.

g.   Maintaining an outreach to all deacon widows in the region, inviting their participation in archdiocesan and regional deacon gatherings (especially the annual Memorial Mass).

h.   Coordinating diaconate involvement in the funerals of deacons and deacon wives in the region.

i.    Maintaining a yearly calendar of regional diaconate events.

3.7       Council Meeting Format

General meetings of the Deacon Council shall meet at a date, time and location determined by the Council at the annual Council Leadership meeting held at the beginning of each year.  The order of business shall follow this established format:

a.   Opening Prayer

b.   Review and approval of the minutes of the prior meeting

c.   Discussion of items from meeting agenda, to include updates from regional representatives and ex-officio members, old business and new business

d.   Closing Prayer

3.8       Council Leadership Meeting

A meeting of the full Deacon Council, with both outgoing and incoming members, shall be held at the beginning of each calendar year.  The purpose of the meeting is two-fold: to conduct necessary business to plan for the upcoming year and to provide an opportunity for spiritual growth and reflection.  The meeting shall be at a location selected by the Director of Deacons.  At a minimum, the business agenda for the meeting shall include; 1) Installation of incoming members, 2) Review of prior year's activities and lessons learned (all members), 3) Presentation of regional goals for coming year (regional representatives), 4) Election of council officers (all members), 5) Scheduling meeting dates for coming year.

3.9       General Deacon Gatherings

The Deacon Council will be responsible for planning, coordinating and hosting annual gatherings of the diaconate community.  The Office of Deacons in Ministry will manage invitations and RSVP's and will fund each event.

a.   Gathering with Archbishop - Unless otherwise directed, the annual gathering of the archbishop with the deacons of the archdiocese typically occurs on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence Martyr (August 10th).  The celebration of the Mass will include a renewal of diaconal vows, followed by dinner and a presentation by the archbishop.  Regardless of where the event is held, representatives from all regions are expected to participate in planning and running this event.

b.   Memorial Mass - A Memorial Mass in celebration of all deceased deacons and deacon wives shall be held each November.  The date/time of the Mass date shall be established at the council leadership meeting in January.  The location of the Mass, the planning of the liturgy, and the reception following the Mass shall be the responsibility of the representative/alternate from the hosting region, according to the following schedule:

•     2019 SG

•     2020 OLA

•     2021 SF

•     2022 SB

•     2023 SP (pattern repeats in subsequent years)

c.   Christmas Party - A deacon Christmas Party shall be held each year on the first Saturday of December.  The location of the party and the planning of the event shall be the responsibility of the representative/alternate from the hosting region, according to the following schedule:

•     2019 SP

•     2020 SG

•     2021 OLA

•     2022 SF

•     2023 SB

 (pattern repeats in subsequent years)

3.10     Standing Committees

The Deacon Council may include a representative from one or more of the following boards/committees (at the discretion of the Director of Deacons):

    1. Deacon Formation Advisory Board
    2. Post-Ordination Formation Committee
    3. Ongoing Formation Committee
    4. Spiritual Development Committee
    5. Hispanic Outreach Committee

3.11     Deanery Leader

Each deanery is encouraged to select a deacon to function as a social, ministerial and spiritual leader, and to assist the regional representative in serving the diaconate community within the deanery.  Any deacon in good standing may serve as deanery leader with the approval of the deacons of that deanery and the regional representative.  Specific duties include, but are not limited to:

a.   Maintaining an up-to-date list of deacons, deacon wives and widows' names, addresses and phone numbers, as well as a calendar of all deacon gatherings in the deanery.

b.   Maintaining a workable electronic mail directory within the deanery and facilitating communications between the regional representative and the deacons.

c.   Facilitating/holding monthly gatherings for deacons, deacon wives and widows to come together in prayer, and to provide opportunities for social, ministerial and spiritual enrichment.


4.1       Assignments

Every deacon engaged in regular diaconal ministry shall have a parish assignment.  All assignments are made by the archbishop through the Office of the Vicar for Clergy and the Office of Deacons in Ministry, and are based on the needs of the archdiocese.  Newly ordained deacons are typically given a renewable five-year assignment to the parish which fostered their vocation. 

The pastor of the parish serves as the deacon's ministry supervisor.  The pastor, together with the deacon (and if married, his wife) are encouraged to come to an understanding of the deacon's role at the parish, the specific ministries he will assist with (liturgical and service-oriented) and a reasonable expectation of his time commitment, which takes into account the deacon's work and family life.  The archdiocese reasonably requests that each deacon commit to a minimum of ten (10) hours of service per month, in addition to his liturgical ministry.  The understanding reached by the pastor, the deacon (and his wife if applicable) shall be documented in writing and a copy provided to each party, so it may be referred to at a later date.

At the discretion of the archbishop, deacons may be given a ministerial assignment to a non-parochial institution (i.e., hospitals, prisons, etc.) in addition to their parish assignment.

4.2       Reassignments

The Office of Deacons in Ministry and the Vicar for Clergy are committed to ensuring that the deacon is assigned to a parish/institution where he can be most effective in his ministry while best serving the people of God.  Consequently, a deacon may need to be reassigned.  Common reasons for reassignment include:

      1. The ministerial needs of the archdiocese
      2. A change in the deacons' employment or place of residence
      3. Other pastoral, personal, health or family reasons

To meet the needs of the archdiocese, the archbishop may reassign a deacon at any time.  If the need for reassignment arises from a reason related to the deacon's ministerial, personal or family life, the deacon may request reassignment to another parish/institution. 

However, before a deacon decides to seek reassignment, he should discuss the matter directly with his pastoral supervisor and the Director of Deacons to evaluate the full range of pastoral solutions that might be available.  If after prayerful consideration the deacon wishes to be reassigned, he should request reassignment from the Director of Deacons in writing.  The request should include:

    1. The reasons for requesting reassignment
    2. How a reassignment would best serve the archdiocese, and
    3. Any preferences the deacon may have for a particular parish/institution.

The archbishop, through the Vicar for Clergy and the Director of Deacons, will evaluate the request and notify the deacon of his decision.

Note: Deacons may not change their assignment on their own authority, nor may pastors remove them from their assignment.  Only the archbishop may assign, remove or reassign a deacon, or accept his resignation from an assignment.

4.3       Faculties

Faculties are given to a deacon by his diocesan bishop to permit the deacon to perform legitimately specific diaconal ministries.  In this archdiocese, faculties are granted to the deacon upon ordination.  Deacons retain their faculties unless they are removed in accord with canon law and are valid only within this archdiocese. 

Deacons incardinated in other dioceses may not exercise diaconal ministry within this archdiocese without the express written permission of the archbishop or his delegate.  Deacons wishing to minister here on a temporary basis must apply for faculties to the Director of Deacons.

4.4       Diaconal Status

A deacon's status falls within one of the following categories:

4.4.1    Active Deacon

An "Active" deacon is a deacon who has faculties and an assignment in this archdiocese and is fulfilling the liturgical and ministerial functions at the location to which he has been assigned by the archbishop.   

Active deacons are required to: 1) fulfill their assignment through liturgical and service-oriented ministry; 2) complete the annual requirement for retreats and continuing education; 3) maintain a current Virtus® certificate on file in the Vicar for Clergy Office.

From time to time, deacons in active ministry may require short-term leave to address circumstances that can arise in their personal lives.  Active deacons may apply to their pastoral supervisors for short-term leave (no more than 90 days in any calendar year).  The length and terms of the leave should be agreed to by the deacon and his supervisor and documented in writing.

4.4.2    Retired Deacon

A "Retired" deacon is a deacon who has retired from active diaconal ministry, continues to reside in the archdiocese, remains in "good standing", and with the approval of the archbishop, retains his faculties to minister within the archdiocese.

Deacons, as ordained ministers of the Church, remain always a part of its diaconate and continue to share in its mission.  Even after they retire from "active" ministry, deacons are encouraged to remain involved in the diaconate community by attending deanery/regional meetings, mentoring younger deacons and candidates and participating in the social gatherings of the diaconate.  Retired deacons who remain in "good standing" will, in most cases, retain their faculties, allowing them to continue their diaconal ministry, usually at a reduced level.

While retired deacons are relieved of their official assignment, most remain affiliated with the parish of their last assignment and continue in diaconal ministry as their health and personal circumstances permit.  A retired deacon may exercise his faculties subject to the permission of the pastor of the parish with which he is affiliated. 

Retired deacons must continue to maintain a current Virtus® certificate on file in the Vicar for Clergy Office.  Retired deacons are still obligated to attend an annual spiritual retreat.  The parish where the senior deacon is affiliated customarily pays for the deacon's retreat.  Retired deacons are relieved of the annual requirement for continuing education.

Upon reaching the age of 75, every deacon is required to submit a letter of resignation to the archbishop offering to resign from his current diaconal assignment.  Should the deacon wish to continue in "active" ministry, he may request his current assignment be extended provided he has the approval of his pastor.  This request must be included in the letter of resignation.  All letters of resignation are reviewed by the Office of Deacons in Ministry and forwarded to the archbishop for approval. 

A deacon may request retirement from his archdiocesan assignment before age 75 for an appropriate reason (i.e., health, family, job, etc.). 

4.4.3    Inactive Deacon

A deacon who is not functioning in a diaconal assignment (and is not retired) is "Inactive".   Previously granted faculties cease when a deacon becomes inactive.  A deacon may be classified as Inactive for the following reasons:

a.       Temporary Leave (90 days or more) - A deacon may request a temporary leave from his assignment for reasons that include, but are not limited to, health, study, personal problems, family commitments, change of occupation, change in parish situation, or temporary relocation outside the diocese.  The request, including the length of time and the reason for the leave, shall be submitted in writing to the Director of Deacons.  The terms of the leave, if granted, will be documented in writing and signed by the deacon.  A deacon on a temporary leave of absence may continue and is encouraged to participate in diaconate community activities (retreats, social functions, ongoing formation, etc.).  Prior to returning to active ministry, the deacon, with the consent of his pastoral supervisor,  shall submit a written request to the Director of Deacons for review and approval. 

b.      Administrative Leave - At the behest of the archbishop a deacon may be placed on administrative leave.  While on administrative leave, the deacon is relieved of his diaconal assignment and his faculties.  He may not function or represent himself as a deacon while this status is in effect.  Return to ministry and restoration of faculties are at the discretion of the archbishop.  If the matter is resolved favorably, the archbishop may return the deacon to active status.  Administrative leave is not a canonical suspension.

c.       Suspension - A deacon on administrative leave who incurs the canonical censure of suspension, as a result of an administrative or juridical procedure, is suspended.

d.      Unauthorized Absence (AWOL) - A deacon who leaves his assignment without the permission of the archbishop is absent without leave.  As a result, his faculties cease.  If the situation is not rectified the deacon may be subject to suspension.

4.4.4    ROD (Resides Outside Diocese)

A deacon who intends to reside outside the archdiocese temporarily must notify the archbishop of his intentions and provide contact information where he may be reached in the future.  He may, with the approval of the archbishop, apply for faculties in the other diocese.  While he remains incardinated in this archdiocese, he is obliged to complete all requirements for ongoing education, spiritual formation and safe-environment training.  Provided he remains in good standing, he may retain his faculties in this archdiocese.

Deacons who request and are granted faculties and/or an assignment in another diocese shall provide a copy of the authorizing letter to the Director of Deacons.

If the deacon anticipates continuing residence in the new diocese, he  is expected to initiate the process of excardination/incardination within one year of moving outside this archdiocese.  Note: The norms and protocols for excardination (the releasing of a cleric from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which he is incardinated) and incardination (the enrollment of a cleric under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) are the same for permanent deacons as for other clerics in the archdiocese.  See link [].   A deacon who has retired and been granted senior deacon status will not be required to seek excardination upon moving.

4.5       Extern Deacon

Deacons incardinated outside the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who wish to minister at a specific sacrament (e.g., baptism or wedding,) or event (e.g., speaker at a retreat) shall:

  1. present a Letter of Suitability from their ordinary to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy at least two weeks in advance. 
  2. obtain the permission of the pastor where they intend to minister at least two weeks in advance.​

Deacons incardinated outside the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who are relocating to the archdiocese and wish to apply for a diaconal assignment are required to complete the following and submit to the Office of Deacons in Ministry:

a.   Completed/signed copy of "Application to Diaconal Ministry" (link to resource)

b.   Letter of Suitability from the bishop of diocese where the deacon is currently ministering.

c.   Letter of Suitability from the bishop of diocese where the deacon is incardinated (if different from above).

d.   A copy of the deacon's Certificate of Diaconal Ordination.

e.   A copy of the identification page of the deacon's US Passport.  Non-US citizens to submit identification page of Passport and copy of Visa.

f.    A copy of the deacon's current Virtus® certificate indicating completion of safe-environment training.

g.   Complete fingerprinting by the archdiocesan Fingerprinting Department.

After a review of the application, the Director of Deacons will schedule a meeting with the applicant to discuss possible assignments.  Prior to this meeting, deacon applicants are encouraged to meet with local pastors in the area where they will be residing to find a sponsoring parish.  The Director of Deacons will provide a suitable assignment to the deacon who successfully completes the application process.

At the end of the first year, the deacon's ministry will be reviewed by the Director of Deacons and the deacon's pastoral supervisor and his assignment may be extended if appropriate.

While the deacon is exercising his ministry in this archdiocese, he is required to follow all applicable archdiocesan policies and procedures. 

4.6       Loss of Clerical State

A deacon who voluntarily or involuntarily is returned to the lay state in accordance with the norms of law has lost his clerical state.

4.7       Incardination/Excardination of Deacons

The process for incardination of extern deacons into the archdiocese is as follows:

A deacon who is interested in incardinating in the archdiocese must submit a letter of intent, to which the archbishop will express his opposition. This opposition is to preclude the application of the "automatic incardination" referred to in Canon 268.

A period of assessment commences from the date the deacon submits his letter of intent. This period allows the parties to discern whether the proposed transfer of incardination truly serves the good of the local Church in the archdiocese as well as the spiritual welfare of the individual deacon. This period of assessment involves continuous service for a period of approximately five years.

 If the interested deacon is deemed ineligible, or the archdiocese concludes that his incardination is not necessary or advantageous to the archdiocese, he will be informed in writing by the archbishop as promptly as feasible.

f the interested deacon is deemed eligible for incardination into the archdiocese, the deacon shall be required to complete and pass:

  1. a comprehensive medical evaluation
  2. a background check covering relevant issues, such as personal histories, credit, criminal and other civil litigation
  3. a psychological assessment conducted by an assessor selected by the archdiocese

Upon completion and passing the above requirements, the deacon applicant will be informed by the archbishop of his willingness to incardinate the deacon in the archdiocese.  A copy of the letter will be sent to the deacon's ordinary. The deacon is then invited to obtain a formal Letter of Excardination from his own diocesan bishop.

Once the Letter of Excardination is received by the archbishop (Canon 269.2), a formal Letter of Incardination can be presented to the deacon, at which time the incardination is effective. A copy of that letter is sent to the excardinating ordinary.

4.8       Ministry outside Diocese (Letter of Suitability/Celebret Letter request)

A deacon with archdiocesan faculties who wishes to exercise ministry outside the archdiocese (whether for a single event such as a wedding, baptism, funeral, or other ceremony) or has other reasons to exercise ministry for a limited period or a particular assignment (such as a retreat, convocation, or other ministry) may request a letter of suitability from the archdiocese through the Office of Deacons in Ministry.

The request should be made in writing to the secretary in the Office of Deacons in Ministry one month in advance of the ministerial activity, except in emergency situations such as funerals. The letter of suitability shall affirm that the deacon is in good standing in the archdiocese with full faculties; has no record of any canonical, criminal, behavioral, sexual, financial, or other issues; and is authorized to minister for the particular activity.

4.9       Ministry Agreement/Evaluation

            For a later release…


5.1       Ongoing Formation

Ongoing formation is a core value for all clergy in the archdiocese. Ongoing formation is necessary for the minister to enhance his spiritual life and his pastoral, leadership, and administrative skills. In this archdiocese, ongoing formation consists of two components:

1)   Continuing Education (a minimum of 20 hours per year), and

2)   Spiritual Development (including one annual retreat)

Every deacon in active ministry is encouraged to prepare a plan for his own ongoing formation and share his personal plan with key people, including his wife, his spiritual director, his priest supervisor and the leadership of his parish or place of ministry. To the greatest extent possible, deacon wives should participate with their husbands in ongoing formation.

5.2       Formation for Newly Ordained

For the first three years following ordination, the deacon's annual 20-hour continuing education requirement shall include attendance at the Post-Ordination Formation Program offered by the archdiocese.   The Post-Ordination Formation Program consists of four (4) 3-hour classes per year (12 hours total) on topics specifically geared to newly ordained deacons.  Classes are held at a central location and are spread throughout the year.  Deacon wives are encouraged to attend these classes with their husbands.   A member of the Deacons Post-Ordination Committee will notify new deacons of the schedule for these classes shortly after their ordination.  An additional eight (8) hours of continuing education shall be completed to meet the 20 hour requirement for the first three years following ordination.

5.3       Continuing Education

Continuing education opportunities in areas directly pertaining to diaconal ministry, which meet the following guidelines, can be counted toward the annual continuing education requirement:

        1. Certificate courses, instructional seminars, workshops or conferences
        2. Courses offered by archdiocesan offices (Office of Religious Education, Office of Worship, Office of Family Life, etc.)
        3. Courses offered by other diocesan offices or religious institutes
        4. College courses (attended in-person or online)
        5. Adult enrichment/faith formation courses offered at local parishes
        6. Regional deacon meetings which include a speaker (one hour may be claimed for each regional meeting up to a maximum of 4 hours/year) 
        7. Self-study projects - individual reading, listening to tapes, viewing video, and other similar forms of self-learning (up to a maximum of 8 hours/year)

The following activities shall not be applied toward the ongoing formation requirement:

        1. Travel to and from the place where instruction is given
        2. Informal meetings and conferences
        3. Prayer services and liturgies
        4. Spiritual direction sessions
        5. Pastoral Council or committee meetings
        6. Social gatherings
        7. Diocesan boards and committee meetings
        8. Administration and business meetings
        9. Deacon Council meetings
        10. Courses not related to ministerial service

5.4       Spiritual Development

Per Canon 276, all deacons, in their pursuit of a life of holiness, are required to:

  1. Fulfill faithfully the duties of their diaconal ministry
  2. Nourish their spiritual life regularly from the two-fold table of sacred scripture and the Eucharist
  3. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily (Morning and Evening Prayer at a minimum)
  4. Attend a spiritual retreat at least once a year
  5. Engage in regular daily prayer, approach the sacrament of penance frequently, honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and use other common and particular means of sanctification.

Each deacon is expected to have a spiritual director and meet with him/her regularly.  The Director of Deacons or the Vicar for Clergy Office can provide spiritual director referrals to deacons who wish such assistance.

5.5       Annual Deacon Retreats

All deacons in active ministry are required to attend at least one spiritual retreat per year.  The Office of Deacons in Ministry currently sponsors several weekend retreats annually, one of which the Deacon is expected to attend.  Wives are encouraged to accompany their spouses on these retreats.  A deacon, with the permission of his pastor, may attend a spiritual retreat other than the ones offered by the Office of Deacons in Ministry.  The Director of Deacons may dispense a deacon from this requirement for a serious reason, such as health, upon receiving a written request from the deacon. 

 5.6       Payment for Ongoing Formation and Retreats

All deacons in active ministry in the archdiocese are entitled to an annual maximum of $1,200 in ongoing formation funds and $700 to fund a personal annual retreat, paid by the location to which they are assigned. The ongoing formation funds may be used by the deacon for ministry-related materials (including professional books, periodicals, and journals), classes, professional conferences, and workshops.  Ongoing formation funds are intended for individual personal development, not for workshops and seminars in which staff members are required to participate. Ongoing formation funds are not to be used for personal vacations.  Retreat funds may only be used for an approved spiritual retreat.

5.7       Reporting

At the beginning of the calendar year, all deacons in active ministry shall submit to the Office of Deacons in Ministry a completed Ongoing Formation Log Sheet reporting the continuing education and spiritual retreat that he completed during the prior year.  Ongoing Formation Log Sheets are available from the Office of Deacons in Ministry and shall be submitted by March 1st.

            Fr. Fox reviewed up to here… (Oct 2018)



Like priests, deacons are held to the same high standards of conduct that apply to all members of the clergy.  The core and pastoral values set forth in Section 5.2.1 of the Administrative Handbook apply to all deacons with an assignment in the archdiocese. In addition, the archdiocesan policies in Section 5.13 which pertain to priestly conduct, apply equally to deacons.

6.1       Virtus Certification Policy

Deacons must comply with applicable archdiocesan policy regarding Virtus® safe-environment training, which requires all clergy who minister in the archdiocese for more than 15 days to complete the VIRTUS® training program or present certification of a satisfactory completion of another approved safe environment program within 15 days of their arrival in the archdiocese. The Office of the Vicar for Clergy will review any alternative safe environment programs, and approve those that meet the archdiocesan content and training protocols.

Deacons shall provide certificates of completion for all safe environment training to the Office of Deacons in Ministry.

Link to ADLA Policy regarding Safe-Environment training:

6.2       Protection of Children and Reporting Child Abuse

Deacons must comply with all applicable archdiocesan policies regarding the protection of children and reporting allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Link to ADLA Policy regarding Reporting Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors:

6.3       Policy on Sexual Abuse by Clergy

Deacons must comply with all applicable archdiocesan policies regarding allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct by clergy.

Link to ADLA Policy for Addressing Allegations of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct by Clergy:

6.4       Complaints against Deacons

Complaints made against deacons are normally handled by the deacon's pastoral supervisor (typically the pastor where the deacon is assigned) in consultation with the regional bishop's office.  The process for handling complaints against deacons shall be in accordance with Section 5.13.9 of the Administrative Handbook.

Link to ADLA Policy for Responding to Complaints and Conflict Resolution:

6.5       Criminal Behavior

If a deacon is arrested by civil authorities, the archdiocese will generally be notified by the Department of Justice, or other law enforcement authority, and in all events the deacon is expected to report the arrest to the Office of the Vicar for Clergy.  The matter will be reviewed by the archdiocese and appropriate action will be taken.

Any deacon who is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude is subject to the full range of canonical penalties, up to and including removal from the clerical state.

6.6       Addiction and the Diaconate

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in accordance with professional and employment protocols, officially recognizes substance abuse and other medically recognized addictions, such as gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, and addictive sexual behavior, as conditions that require enlightened concern and treatment. Addressing these behaviors may require the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the application of canonical disciplinary measures. The policy pertaining to addiction in the priesthood applies also to deacons.

Link to ADLA Policy regarding Addiction and the Presbyterate:

6.7       Liability Coverage

The archdiocese provides deacons with a legal defense as clergy of the archdiocese provided the conduct is within the scope of their assignment.  If the conduct is not within the scope of the deacon's assignment, the deacon is responsible for his own legal costs. Occasionally, particular arrangements for a deacon may be made with the moderator of the curia.  Parishes may not fund legal costs without specific authority of the moderator of the curia and parish funds may never be used to provide bail payments.

6.8       Electronic Communications Policy

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles recognizes that in today's environment, with the increasing prevalence of the internet, employees, clerics and volunteers will use the internet to conduct ministry work and to communicate with associates and friends. The Archdiocese encourages internet use and provides detailed policies and extensive guidance on safe and acceptable use in the online Administrative Handbook.

The Acceptable Use and Responsibility Policy for Electronic Communications ("Archdiocesan AUP") applies to all archdiocesan users of technology, whether adults, children, or youth, and whether they are students, parents, paid staff or volunteers, priests, deacons, or members of religious orders in the archdiocese or at any Location.  All users are expected to adhere to the morals and values of the Catholic Church, to respect others, to consider the potential audience and their expectations, and to follow the Archdiocesan AUP and the other policies, standards, and procedures of the archdiocese. Electronic information and communications require particular safeguards and impose unique responsibilities on all users.

The Archdiocesan AUP is set forth in Chapter 10 of the Administrative Handbook.

6.9       Political Office, Employment and Outside Business Activities

A deacon may not present his name for election to any public office or in any other general election, or accept a nomination or an appointment to public office, without the prior written permission of the archbishop. A deacon may not actively and publicly participate in another's political campaign without the prior written permission of the archbishop.

6.10     Involvement in Charismatic Prayer Groups

Many deacons and wives minister as part of the Charismatic Movement and are vital members of various parish prayer groups. Such involvement is encouraged for the deacons' and wives' own spiritual growth and for the richness they can bring to others because of their formation and ministry.

Deacons should not serve in elected positions within the Charismatic Renewal Movement. This applies to the steering committee (Comite Timon) as well as the coordinator position for parish prayer groups.  All leadership positions should be filled by members of the laity.

Deacons may serve in the capacity of chaplain or spiritual guide for a prayer group, provided the prayer group is an approved parish ministry and the deacon serves under the direction of the pastor.  As spiritual guide, the deacon must be properly prepared, and he must assure that the materials, instructions and practices conform to the official teachings of the Church and the policies of the archdiocese.  Resources for Charismatic Renewal are available from the archdiocesan English, Hispanic and Tagalog Liaisons through the Office of New Evangelization.  (Provide link here:

The deacon is expected to serve all members of the parish community.  It is not appropriate for ministry to the Charismatic Renewal Movement to be the deacon's only ministry.


7.1       Remuneration/Stipends

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, deacons do not receive payment for their diaconal services.  Stipends for weddings, funerals and baptisms should be turned over to the parish consistent with parish policy.  The deacon may accept a gift over and above the stipend intended for the parish, where the donor has made it clear that such gift is intended specifically for the deacon.  Under no circumstance shall a deacon ever charge a fee for any sacramental service.

Any further monetary arrangement, including out-of-pocket expenses, rests upon the mutual agreement of the deacon and his pastor, supervisor, or archdiocesan office in which he functions.

7.2       Clerical Attire

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, permanent deacons do not wear the Roman collar, nor do they wear any distinctive clerical garb outside of liturgical functions.  Although there is no uniform pin or symbol for deacons, deacons may wear a lapel pin or cross which symbolizes their diaconal identity and function.

Deviations from this policy must be approved in writing through the Director of Deacons and by the Regional Bishop.

7.3       Official Title

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, deacons are addressed by the term "Deacon."  The form, "Rev. Mr." is not to be used by permanent deacons in this archdiocese.  The term "Deacon John Doe" is to be used on church documents and correspondence.  When performing marriages, the deacon signs the marriage license of the State of California with "Deacon John Doe."  An acceptable abbreviation for the word deacon is Dn. or Dcn.

7.4       Death of a Deacon

 The death of a deacon is significant, not only in the life of his family, but also in the archdiocese and in his parish.  His life as a deacon assumed a public dimension, therefore both personal and community considerations should be taken into account when planning his funeral. 

When a deacon dies, the pastor at the deceased deacon's parish, or at the parish where the funeral is to be held, should notify the archbishop, the appropriate regional bishop, and the Office of the Vicar for Clergy of the circumstances surrounding the deacon's death.  As soon as the funeral arrangements are finalized, the Office of the Vicar for Clergy should be informed, so that a notice can be sent to the archdiocesan community.

Some guidelines for a deacon's funeral Mass:

  1. A deceased deacon may be buried in alb and stole.  
  2. Military funeral honors may be incorporated into the deacon's funeral services. 
  3. The deceased deacon's casket is placed and oriented during Mass, as for all clergy, with the head of the casket nearest the altar.
  4. The use of a pall is mandatory.  Christian symbols such as a breviary, gospel book, crucifix or stole, may be placed on top of the pall.

The wishes of his surviving family must always be considered, while conforming to the Rite of Christian Burial.

Deacons who are in good standing in the archdiocese, and their families, are eligible for significant discounts on mortuary and cemetery services provided by the archdiocesan-owned Catholic Mortuaries & Cemeteries. 


NOTE - The liturgical role of the deacon will be contained in a separate document:



  • Celebration of the Eucharist
      • The Deacon at Mass
      • Eucharist Service in the absence of a Priest
      • Adoration/Benediction
      • Viaticum
  • Rite of Christian Initiation
  • Rite of Christian Burial
  • Rite of Marriage