27 C Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103 (801) 328-8641

Permanent Diaconate

Deacon Forrest Gray, Director of Permanent Diaconate

Diocese of Salt Lake City
27 C Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
Phone: 801-328-8641
Fax: 801-328-9680
E-Mail: deacon.gray@dioslc.org

Hours: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, Mon - Fri


What is a deacon?

A deacon is a clergyman who assists the bishop and priests. He is ordained, not to the priesthood, but to service. The Diaconate is a three-fold ministry:

Charity in which he is of service to the community
Word in which he proclaims the Gospel and preaches
Liturgy in which he assists at Mass, is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist, presides
at baptisms, witnesses marriages, leads the community in prayer, funeral services and the Liturgy of the Hours.

The deacon finds his identity not in what he does, but in who he is. A deacon ministers in many different settings from the traditional parish to prisons, shelters for the homeless or the abused, hospitals, convalescent homes, soup kitchens, police departments, and juvenile detention centers. Regardless of where a deacon finds himself, it is there that he serves.

"The deacon should indeed be a person who looks at the same circumstances we all look at, but who sees much more than appears to most. The deacon should be a person who can listen to what we all listen to among the voices and murmurs of humanity, but who hears more. Someone who grasps almost intuitively, the dimension of need that routinely escapes all-too-superficial hearing and seeing. (U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate)

Service as a deacon can take on wide meaning. He quickly finds that whatever he does it is diaconal service! A deacon brings the ministry to the workplace, to the market place, to families and to community.

The Liturgical role of the deacon is important. The community should see deacons ministering from the altar vested as a deacon, but this liturgical role flows out of and is a result of his other roles of charity and service to the community.

Continuing Formation

Four sessions of on-going training are required each year, either by classroom meetings or written assignments completed at home.

There is an Annual Retreat, a canonical requirement, for Deacons and Wives, which is usually held in September or October of each year.

History and Tradition 

The service of deacons in the Church is documented from apostolic times. A strong tradition attested already by Saint Irenaeus and influencing the liturgy of ordination sees the origin of the Diaconate in the institution of the "seven" mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-6).

Up to the fifth century, the Diaconate flourished in the western church, but after this period, for various reasons, it experienced a slow decline which ended in its surviving only as an intermediate stage for candidates preparing for priestly ordination.

On June 18, 1967, Pope Paul VI implemented the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council and restored the Permanent Diaconate. On August 30, 1968, he approved of the restoration to be implemented in the United States. The Diocese of Salt Lake City began its first deacon program in 1974 under the leadership of Msgr. John Hedderman. Bishop Joseph Federal, the Bishop of Salt Lake City in 1974, said

"At this time I feel that for the good of the souls, the order of Permanent Diaconate should be established in our Diocese of Salt Lake City ... for most of you the idea of the Permanent Diaconate will be something new, but, in fact, it has been with the Church from the beginning."

The Diocese of Salt Lake City was one of the first dioceses to restore the Permanent Diaconate. On December 26, 1976, fourteen men were ordained to the diaconate in this diocese. As of the year 2008, seventy-nine men have been ordained to the Diaconate, forty-five of whom are active in the diocese. We are grateful to Bishop Federal for his wisdom and vision and pray as the first Apostles did that the Lord will continue to send men "filled with the Spirit and wisdom" who will devote themselves to serving the poor in our midst.

The Diaconate, restored as a permanent order of ministry by the Second Vatican Council as part of its renewed vision of the Church, brings back to the church the full complement of active apostolic ministries. In communion with the bishop and priests, the deacon is ordained to function in all three areas of the church's life: in the transmission of the Word; in the celebration of the sacraments and commitment to prayer; and in the community's love in action through service.

The deacon is called to be the presence of Jesus, touching the oppressed and the alienated, as well as being a source of encouragement to all the baptized in answering their call to service. By his life, the deacon makes visible to the Church and to the world the redemptive service fulfilled by Jesus Christ.


In the Diocese of Salt Lake City, there are currently 66 Deacons serving the local Church.


Additional Information

National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD)

7625 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43235

Distance Learning Program for the Diaconate
The Pontifical College Josephinum

7625 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43235