1995 Article, kind of old, but is still ok to read for info.
CHANGES IN THE PERMANENT DIACONATE?
by Kristen West McGuire
Last week, you took a true-false quiz on the basics of the
permanent diaconate. This week, we have the essay portion of
the test. Your question is, “What changes are likely in the
permanent diaconate as the Church approaches the year 2000?”
(Limit your focus to the U.S.!) The following “Cliff Notes”
will help you prepare your response:
The United States bishops received permission from Rome to
ordain permanent deacons in 1968, with the first ordinations in
1971. The first deacons in the U.S. are now reaching retirement
age. The diaconate has grown and changed. Deacons now have a
stronger sense of identity and purpose than they did in those
The difficulty of the early years stemmed from the “newness” of
the office of permanent deacon. Identity necessarily began with
what deacons were not– not priests and not lay persons. Today,
most deacons identify themselves positively, in terms of
service: service to the altar, service to the Gospel, service
to the poor and needy.
However, there are still issues facing the worldwide diaconate.
(Rome was not built in a day!) In November of this year, the
Congregation for the Clergy will devote a plenary session to
these questions. Documents produced from this meeting will help
clarify some difficult questions. We will look at some of the
issues to be covered, and their potential impact on U.S. deacons.