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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.

If 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

​Ministry agreement and evaluation forms are still in the process of development by the Office of Deacons in Ministry.


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