Qualities and Characteristics of a Deacon

The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons prepared by the United States Catholic Bishops sets forth guidelines to give direction in the selection, discernment and preparation of qualified men for diaconal ministry.

Men to be considered for this special ministry should already witness as leaders in the Church.  They are called by the Holy Spirit through the Church community, therefore, it is the responsibility of both the man and the community to discern who should be called as deacons to serve the Church.

There are patterns of behavior that give clues to a man’s penchant for diaconal service.  They are:

  • Natural inclination to service
  • Psychological integrity
  • Capacity for dialogue, docility and openness
  • Ability to share one’s faith, open to other points of view
  • Capacity to listen carefully
  • Respect of others, religion, race, gender, ethnicity, culture
  • Good communication skills
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Timeliness
  • Self-directed and collaborative, displays accountability
  • Displays balanced and prudent judgment
  • Generosity in service
  • Ability to lead, motivate, facilitate, animate others into action and service

As well, there are spiritual and evangelical qualities prevalent in this special ministry.  They are:

  • Sound faith
  • Good Christian reputation
  • Active involvement
  • Personal integrity
  • Maturity
  • Holiness
  • Regular participation in Church’s sacramental life
  • Evidence of recognized, ongoing commitment to Church’s life and service
  • Participation in faith enrichment opportunities
  • Positive and stable marriage, if married
  • Mature celibate state of life, if single
  • Active membership in the Christian community
  • Capacity for obedience and fraternal communion
  • Deep spirituality and prayer life
  • Demonstrates kindness and humility
  • Commitments to family, career, employment, community and Church service
  • Readiness and timeliness of response to a vocation

The pastor and church community are imperative when encouraging men in their first stirrings to the call to serve the Church.  These men should not only display living a spiritual life but their espousal witness and the consent of their wife and family are most necessary as they come forward to make application to become a deacon in the Diocese of Austin.

(Excerpts from draft of The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons, USCCB   12-04)