Deacon or Priest?


Hello Everyone,

For some time now I’ve felt called to ordination, but I feel conflicted between permanent deacon or priest.

I really want to discern my vocation, but I find it difficult at times. I love public speaking, but I’m not sure if I feel the desire to administer all the sacraments the way a priest does. Is this a sign pointing to deacon?

On the other hand, sometimes when I hear about the priest shortage, it makes me almost feel guilty, like I should become one.

What are some ways to tell which of these I may be caled to?


well I see your profile for religion says baptist looking to become Catholic. If you aren’t Catholic yet then I’d suggest focusing on getting into RCIA and coming into the Church fully. If you have already done so then welcome aboard! I’m a new convert as of this last Easter Vigil myself. I also am discerning the Priesthood. If you are in the Church fully then I would suggest looking into finding a spiritual director first and foremost. They will help you build the proper prayer life (give you a good basic formation). From there if you are still feeling called they will turn you over to a vocations director who will then start interviewing you and anything else that they do prior to accepting someone to the Seminary. If you ever wanna talk about anything feel free to pm me. I’d be happy to build a network of friends who are considering becoming clergy!


The big question comes down to the 2 sacraments that priests celebrate the most: the Eucharist and Confession.

So do you feel called to celebrate the Mass? To stand at the altar and says the prayers and consecrate the Eucharist for the people? That is, fundamentally, the call of a priest.

Or do you feel called to humbly assist at the altar during the Mass? That is the call of a deacon. I know people who have said they feel a call to the second one, but not to the first one.

This is something that people feel guilty about, but the best thing is to let it go. You are only 1 person who is called to serve where God wants you to serve, you cannot end a shortage on your own.

This is something that I personally struggled with early in my own discernment while trying to figure out if I was called to be a diocesan or religious priest. My feeling was the diocesan priests were more needed because of the shortage, and I had to realize that God calls people to serve in many different ways that are all needed, not just at the parish.

As it turned out, my discernment led me back to the diocesan priesthood and to the parishes, and that was due to my own prayer and experiences. I realized that what attracted me most to the priesthood was the sacraments and the charism of Jesus Christ the Priest, and through working with priests and people in this diocese I felt called to stay here.

You can see that a calling to priesthood is a lot more complex then what we usually speak of. There are usually several stages that a man goes through on the way where they learn to draw closer to Christ and conform themselves more to Christ and move away from things that draw them away. You’ll have lots of time to figure it out.


Someone correct me if I’m wrong…

Or if Fr. Brett Brannen is wrong, that is. I read his book, To Save a Thousand Souls, and he addressed this subject. He said that for an unmarried man, the permanent diaconate is not an option. He was addressing it in regards to wanting to keep marriage an option. While this may not be your motivation, I would think the same thing applies. I’m pretty sure the permanent diaconate is for married men, who, with the consent of their wives and family, are accepted into a permanent diaconate program. For unmarried men, I think if you are going to seminary, the end goal is priesthood.

I don’t know any unmarried permanent deacons, so this seems correct to me, but then I haven’t met very many permanent deacons, so who knows.


That’s a great book for discernment. I read it last year, it pushes me to go the final distance and getting in contact with my vocation director. :thumbsup:

Fellow forumer TimothyH is in formation (I think so at least) to be a permanent deacon as an unmarried man.

It might vary by diocese, but I’m not really that familiar with the regulations/canons for the permanent diaconate (I know much more about the process for priesthood because that’s what I’ve been pursuing).


The call of a deacon is not to serve humbly at the altar!

The Deacon receives the sacrament of Holy Orders, and is most especially a “servant” to the Bishop.

The call of a deacon is to serve, especially in his works of charity, in the person of Christ the Servant, and the deacon is present at the altar BECAUSE he serves in the person of Christ the Servant.

The Deacon serves during the mass in two ways.

He is the Ordinary Minster of the Word. The Deacon is the one who properly reads the Gospel. Even if the Pope were present at Mass it is the Deacon who proclaims the Gospel.

The Deacon also preaches.

Secondly, the Deacon is an Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist, and you see the Deacon holding the Chalice during the Eucharistic prayer.

But… the Deacon’s service at Mass arises out of his Service especially to the poor and vulnerable in society.


Of course the diaconate is for unmarried (single) men too.:confused:

There is nothing about the single state that precludes ordination to the diaconate. Why would it?

It might even help the individual by freeing them up for works of charity or a ministry with the poor and vulnerable.

The FIRST ministry of a married deacon is to his family. Without that distraction a single man might be able to serve more fully.


Well, yes, the diaconate is for unmarried men, I suppose, but for some reason I am under the impression that single men go through the transitional diaconate as a step on the way to priesthood.

In any case, perhaps I am wrong, and I stand corrected. Perhaps Fr. Brett was just advising against only becoming a permanent deacon just to keep marriage an option. Upon further thought, I suppose that would make sense - don’t permanent deacons have to make a promise of celibacy, like priests?

That’s a great book for discernment. I read it last year, it pushes me to go the final distance and getting in contact with my vocation director.

Yes, it was a big help for me as well! :thumbsup:


I’m getting my info from the Church documents not Fr. Brett;)

**The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States **
167. The profile is completed with certain spiritual and evangelical qualities. Among these are a sound faith; good Christian reputation; active involvement in the Church’s apostolate; personal integrity, maturity, and holiness; regular participation in the Church’s sacramental life; evidence of recognized, ongoing commitment to the Church’s life and service; participation in faith enrichment opportunities (e.g., retreats, days of recollection, adult education programming); a positive and stable marriage, if married, or a mature
celibate state of life, if single; active membership in a Christian community; capacity for obedience and fraternal communion; and a deep spirituality and prayer life. The presence of these qualities, experienced in kindness and humility, may demonstrate a call to the Order of Deacons.

No, married deacons do not have to be celibate: they have to be chaste - as do all married and single people. If their wife dies, however, they may not remarry - usually.


Nor do I believe they are allowed to marry after receiving Holy Orders in any case, so it doesn’t actually “keep marriage an option”, unless a man is already married.


I am an ordained permanent deacon. There were single men in my formation class who were ordained with me; after ordination, they are celibate, and are not permitted to marry. If my wife should die (heaven forbid), I also cannot remarry. I hope this information helps those who are discerning. God Bless you all! And for my brother Knights, Vivat Jesus!


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