Single Ladies, would you consider marrying a man called to the Diaconate?


I know some men are called to the Permanent Diaconate later in life, after their marriage, but is it also possible to feel called beforehand? If a man told you he felt called to be a Deacon (not that he felt torn between marriage and Priesthood, just that he felt called to be a Deacon), would that make or break the deal for you?

I like the Eastern Church’s stance on this, where being the wife of a Priest or Deacon is seen as a vocation in its’ own right (it’s also the way many protestants see their clergy wives, and there are some saints in the early Church who were priests’ wives). Surely a woman who married a man knowing he was aiming for the Diaconate would be better prepared to support him in the sacrifices that office calls for. Are there any women who really feel that their call is to be by the side of their husband in the Diaconate?

This is partly a discussion point and partly a personal ad :wink: (not really, I’m kinda ‘discerning’ with someone already, but I’m curious how to broach the subject with her.)


A woman who marries a deacon will also have to be very suportive and have some responsibilites that the deacon will have. They will be just as active. You need to marry a gal who has lots of energy and is truly 100% catholic because she will also have to go through some trainning I am guessing.

At my church… the deacon’s wife is super active too. She gets envolved almost as much as our deacon since they are both very useful to our church. Since they are married they understand the needs of married people.

My advise is to date someone for a year before you decide to get married. Find someone who is mentally healthy. Many families have inherited mental illness and have a history of it. I inherited depression and anxiety. So watch out for gals who are whinny and get the blues often. I can get real blue during the holidays.

Try to find a gal who is low maintenance which means she can take care of herself without asking for too much time and attention from you. You will be kept real busy as a Deacon. You also have to have lots of energy and be mentally healthy.


Any woman of true faith would step aside. The calling may grow and one of true faith would not choose be a hinderance.

If you are not already married and are discerning the Diaconate, isn’t there a point where you are unable to marry, even as a Deacon?

And surely you are not suggesting that the Church’s teaching on this issue is “questionable”?:confused:

With God’s graces…


Deacon’s involvement in the Parish - and deacon’s wives - run from very very involved to those you rarely ever see.

A deacon’s primary vocation is his wife and family.


I don’t understand this comment exactly.

A married man may become a Deacon, but a Deacon, once ordained, cannot marry again. Most Deacons are married, and have wives who support them, and are not in any way a hunderance to their vocation.

You think a man who feels called to the Diaconate while unmarried (but not yet ordained) should remain unmarried even though the Church allows them to marry first? Can I ask why?

I’m certainly not saying the Church’s teaching is questionable in any way.


Honestly DL82 it seems to me that you’re trying to get around the unmarried priest rule. You need to decern between religious and married life…

If you’re called to be a decon you should persue that route. If you’re not then you need to persue that. You are acting severly selfish and denying your vocation to God.

It is gravely presumptuous of you to ask a woman to invest the time, energy and money. You will first and foremost answer to your wife and explore vocation together. Its like a woman planning her involvement in a 3rd order…or if she planned to be a missionary in Africa. It is up to the both of you when you’re in union and you pray to God.

I know good Catholic men who are now into their 50’s who’ve felt strong calls to diaconate but wanted to be married. They just wanted marriage…kids and the whole nine years. they believed they deserved it and ignored God’s call. It seems to me you’re heading on this route


With all due respect, it seems to me that maybe you misunderstand the vocation of deacon. Either that, or I do. :wink: The diaconate is not “getting around the unmarried priest rule.” It is a completely separate vocation, and should be discerned as such, which seems to be what the OP says he is doing. Since the church does allow married men to become deacons, there is no conflict in him pursing both married life (first) and the diaconate (second), if that is what he wants.

As for being presumptuous in asking a woman to spend the time and energy as a deacon’s wife, I have to disagree. If I were still single and discerning marriage to a man, I would definitely want and expect him to discuss with me his calling to the diaconate prior to marriage. Considering how much that vocation can entail for husband and wife, I would want to know ahead of time so that I could decide if that life is for me.

To the OP, God bless on your discernment process!


I totally would have considered a man who was thinking about the diaconate. It’s a big job and a big vocation even for the wife, but there are lots of women who want to be very involved in church and do more than the average. Now you’re probably not going to find them without looking hard … they don’t exactly hang out at singles’ bars … but you could meet someone through various Catholic activities.

The person who is ripping the OP for wanting to be a married deacon … they are just mistaken. Permanent deacons are usually married. If their wife dies, they don’t marry again. But my family was very close growing up to a deacon and his wife, and their marriage was a wonderful example within the parish. I think the Church needs married deacons.

Do, of course, be completely open from the get-go about your desire to be a permanent deacon. You’d be asking more than the average of your wife. She might not be directly involved in your work (though she could be), but she’d have to deal with you having a lifelong commitment besides the one to her. However, don’t despair – I believe there are lots of girls who would be interested in this. (Not me – I got married last summer – but definitely people I know!) If you don’t have any luck in the normal channels, this might be a place for an online Catholic dating service. Though, as always, be careful with those and don’t move too fast into a relationship until you’ve known a girl in real life for awhile.


I’m not ripping on the OP I just think its immature that the OP is not yet in a relationship…and therefore has not yet been able to truly descern marriage, yet is making a secondary vocation as a qualification.

I’d date a guy who wanted to be involved in the parish life. But its up to the couple. I think he’s making a huge judgment error.

Marriage is about giving oneself to your spouse. It is complete self-giving. Love is complete focus on the other, and one cannot focus on the other if you’re focused on persuing a secondary vocation.


I really don’t see it that way. Christian marriage should be about giving yourself completely to your spouse for the sake of the whole Church. The Theology of the Body uses the Mass as an analogy, in the marital act the couple say both ‘this is my body for you’ and ‘this is my blood for all’ - married love doesn’t close in on itself, but should make both partners more able to love others.

The two vocations shouldn’t pull in opposite directions, just as the vocation to be both husband AND father, or both priest AND religious brother don’t pull away from the complete focus on one, but complement eachother. That’s why I’m saying I’d want to be upfront from the start.

I don’t see how it’s any different to marrying someone whose job puts them under a lot of pressure, like a doctor or a politician. If I wanted to go into politics, I would tell my girlfriend ahead of time, because there would be more pressure upon her as a politician’s wife than there would be as the wife of an office manager. This is the same kind of thing, I think.

In marriage, you’re supposed to be open to God’s call (I think you seem to feel that marriage is for people who have rejected God’s call to the priesthood or religious life, that’s understandable, I thought that way for a long time too), and that means being open to life in the form of children, but also open to life in the form of service side-by-side in whatever God calls you both to. Don’t get me wrong, I may find out, once married, by discerning together with my wife, that I’m not called to the diaconate after all. That would mean I’d discerned my vocation successfully, and that’s fine too - nobody really has a vocation until the Church confirms it in a sacramental vow. I’m just saying, to the best of my knowledge as a single guy, this is where I feel called.

I’d also be very interested to hear the advice of any married deacons or their wives on this board.


I’m not saying marriage is for those who rejected religious life, but marriage is its own vocation and the diaconate is part of a greater religious life vocation

I don’t think its like any secular job that could take a husband or wife from their spousal duties becuase it requires alot of focus on God and alot of sacrifice from the wife (and children). Its not a checklist. Primarly when you’re married you want to be growing with holiness WITH your spouse, not on an independant tract. Which is what I see it as. Logistically, training for the diaconate can be stressful on even a well founded marriage, assuming, of course, you’re also holding down a full-time job.

Will this call to deaconate leave you unfulfilled if you somehow can’t in marriage? You could be too poor to afford the classes, or you could have an ill child that reqires constant attention. You are asking a wife you don’t even have to make a sacrifice you don’t even know you (meaning the both of you) are capable of. You may be married and then have to wait another 20-30 years.

The problem I have with focusing on deaconate before marriage is that marriage is NOT a guarentee. Many people feel called in both directions. What happenes when you aren’t married at 30? at 40? or 50? do you “give up” on marriage?

I think the better way to approach the subject to a potential mate is to say that you want to have a deep and involved parish life. Now, weither that means you become a lay minister teaching RCIA, or a youth minister or heck even voulenteer to cook for the priests, it dosn’t matter. My point is that married life and diaconate are BOTH vocations and you need to persue one at a time. You can do that in the openness of wanting a parish life.

I don’t know too much about the easter rite but I’m assuming the husband is trained ahead of time and is well founded in his priesthood or deaconate life before marriage (or maybe just beginning). This could make all the differce in the world to a family…that the training is out of the way. But it dosn’t work that way in the Roman Catholic Church.


Well, to be considered for the Deaconate one must be involved in parish life, as a knight, as a Religious Ed teacher, volunteer in other areas. It’s sort of a culmination of all the other activities, a logical progression from the other involvement.

I really have a hard time accepting that someone who isn’t even married feels called to the Deaconate. That means that everything will be ordered toward that, and I don’t think that’s healthy.

Let’s see, gotta get a wife. Check
Okay, now I have to get involved in the parish. I wonder if five years is okay? What activities look better
Hmm, I think I need a kid or two. That’ll look good. NO, wait, has to be at least three.
What else will look good on my cv? ah, a few theology classes.
NOW, yeah, I can apply to the Deaconate!

The people in formation to be Deacons that I know are always at church anyway, already involved. It’s the next step; I’m not sure they had that in mind when they started to get involved. They got involved out of love for the Church, not as part of some end game.



I think you are getting some bizarre answers to your question. Instead of answering whether or not a woman would consider a man who felt called to the diaconate, people are questioning your call to the diaconate. As if you could not authentically feel a call to both. I think people have overstepped on this one, personally.

Now, knowing your history and off/on discernment of priesthood and other things, maybe a few posters are trying to ask some probing questions to help you think about whether your call is to the priesthood… but really, that seems to be your spiritual director’s job.

So, to your actual question:

**It depends on the woman. ** It will turn away some, it will attract others.

When I met my now DH, I thought, “wow, he would be a great deacon, I wonder if he’s ever thought about it.” The answer was “yes.” My DH has thought about it. He has taken some lay ministry formation through the diocese and is active in teaching religious ed, and the diaconate program would be a continuation of that and I would need to take classes also.

It isn’t fitting into our life right now, but there is still time. DH and I will revisit it in a few years, I am sure. I think DH is on the fence right now b/c he is so busy with other responsibilities. He may or may not be called to it. We’ll see. It will be spiritual discernment for him. I will support him 100% in his decision.

Another woman would have seen that as something she did not want to support-- the diaconate takes up a lot of time, requires a huge commitment regarding parish life and coursework, etc.

So, my advice with any girl you are discerning with is to tell her you are considering exploration of the diaconate. Tell her you feel called to ministry in the Church and it may be as a lay person, and it may be as a deacon. Ask her if that is something she can support down the road if your vocation is confirmed through discernment. Any woman *who is the right one for you *will support your spiritual life and possible vocation. It’s as simple as that.


As a single woman, I would have to disagree with this. I do not think it is selfish at all. First, marriage is a special calling and is not just a “default” for “non-priests.” If the OP feels strongly about marriage and the diaconate (which is different than the priesthood), then by all means he needs to explore this and not force himself into a priestly vocation. If the Church felt like the diaconate would not allow someone to give fully of themselves in marriage, then they would not encourage this vocation or allow it.

If you feel strongly about becoming a deacon someday, then yes, tell the woman you are discerning with, give her a head’s up so she can decide if this is something she wants to pursue with you. Talking about it before marriage is ideal. Now, our deacon is married and his wife is not very publically involved with the parish. They have 5 kids and she is busy at home, and is much more introverted than her husband. This doesn’t bother any of us at the parish. It is not quite like being a “pastor’s wife” where people expect you to make appearances all the time. Our newest deacon also is married, but his wife isn’t all that public either. I think the key here is that the wife is spiritually mature and ready to offer support from the home. If she wants to be more visible, that’s fine too.

Also, I think you will find many devout women who would be open to this and even admire you for your own devotion to the faith.

In regards to the comment about being mentally healthy… I just want to say that while it’s good to look for mental health within reason, it’s a little unfair to judge a woman based on her family history. Most families have at least one person that struggles mentally, if not several. This doesn’t mean your kids are doomed to be mentally ill. Obviously, you want to find someone who can handle the responsibilities of married life, first and foremost, and also supportive of your desire to serve the Church. If she whines occasionally, well, welcome to the human race. :wink: No one is perfect, and marriage matures us and helps us become Saints.


I can’t answer the question as it is posed because I am already married. I do have a question of my own, however. What is the minimum age for ordination to the permanent deaconate in the UK? I believe the canonical requirements are that a single man must be 25 years of age and a married man 35 years of age. But I believe that in the United States, ALL candidates to the permanent diaconate must be 35.


Well, I am not a woman. But, since a single Deacon can not enter into marriage, I would have problems dating someone discerning a call to the Deaconate. If he decided he really was called to the deaconate, and acted on that call, he would not be free to marry.

Too confusing.


This seemed to come out of the blue. Why shouldn’t he be discerning this just like any other vocation? Are you just saying that it’s harder to be accepted into the diaconate than say, the seminary? If so, than maybe it would be wise to consider what would “look good” in terms of being involved in the parish. I know several people with religious vocations, and yes, because it isn’t easy to find the right order and then to get accepted, much of their life right now is ordered to that. I believe my vocation is to be a member of a certain profession, and most of my life is ordered to that right now. A lot of it, btw, involves looking good on applications.
I almost forgot to answer the question…answer: no this is not a deal-breaker. :thumbsup:


I agree with this post. I am a women who is dating a man who is very much involved in the church. I knew that from going in and frankly it is one of the things that attracted me to him. With that said there are things that come with it.I know that we will very rarely sit together at church and he will have chruch meetings throuhgout the week that come first. I get that and have accepted it.

I do think he would make a great deacon and have asked him about it. He says he is not interested in. Partly because of the church politics and partly because he had already discerned the religious life. He had left everything and joined the benedict order to become a brother. He decided that wasn’t his vocation and left. He is happy in his vocation as a lay person and serving God in other ways.

I do think that if you are discerning the diaconate then you need to get some good spiritual direction because there could be confusion/mixing about relgious life and married life. Go on some retreats and be OPEN to God’s will!

I will admit my ignorance on single men who are permantent deacons. All the deacons i know are either married older men or translation men who are moving on to the priesthood. If you are single do you think maybe good is calling you to the priesthood and not just to be a deacon?

From my understanding Deacons are deacons for that parish. They do not get transfered around from parish to parish. All the deacon i have known come from within the church community. They are men who are already serving that parish and its the next logicial step. I know that single deacon exist but i don’t think i have ever met one.

With all this said its not a deal breaker but (and i am not saying you come across this way at all) if i ever felt that a man was using me as a means to an end (ie getting to serve the lord as a deacon over being a priest) simple because he didn’t want to forgo marriage and sex. Then i would be pissed it! Seriously Marriage is a vocation and it is the first vocation. Being a deacon comes second. If I felt my spouses heart was not fully into the marriage but instead into his service to the community then my heart would break. I would feel so used.

My biggest and best suggest is get some spiritual direction. Take time off from making any decision and be open to the will of God. Let go your control on your future and let God guide it. Good Luck!!!


There is a lot of bickering going on. So I will just answer.

Yes I would if allowable. I would be honored, then as a deacon’s wife I can work/volunteer at the church as well, which I LOVE to do anyway!


"I will admit my ignorance on single men who are permantent deacons. All the deacons i know are either married older men or translation men who are moving on to the priesthood. If you are single do you think maybe good is calling you to the priesthood and not just to be a deacon?

From my understanding Deacons are deacons for that parish. They do not get transfered around from parish to parish. All the deacon i have known come from within the church community. They are men who are already serving that parish and its the next logicial step. I know that single deacon exist but i don’t think i have ever met one."

My husband is currently in training for the diaconate. When a deacon is ordained, he takes a vow of obedience to the bishop of his diocese. The deacon serves where the bishop sends him. Most of the time it is at his home parish, but it can be at another parish. Many deacons have other ministries besides helping at the parish. (hospital, prison, homeless are just a few) Once a deacon is ordained, he cannot marry. If his wife dies, he cannot remarry. Two of the requirements of a deacon candidate to have been married for at least 10 years(if he is married) and be at least 35 when ordained.

In our diocese, diaconate training takes 5 years. One year of aspirancy and four years of candidacy. One thing that has been emphasized throughout the training is that his first vocation is his marriage, then his vocation as deacon. The preparation takes up a lot of my husband’s time and I know this is preparing us for when he is ordained. My husband still has to work full time. I go to his classes when I can, but it is a challenge because our children are still school age. My husband is the one called to the diaconate, not me. I fully support him in what ever way I can, but at this time my focus is on our family. It is very easy to get caught up in the busyiness of our schedules, but we make an effort to continually strenghten our marriage.

I think you shoul tell any woman you are serious about that you feel a strong call to serve and that might include the diaconate.

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