[quote="SonCatcher, post:2, topic:305799"]
when: in the very early years of the Church (likely before 35 AD but dates are somewhat speculative)
first permanent deacon: there were 7, actually. They were: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch.
Well, they were deacons. There really is no such thing as a "permanent" deacon. A deacon is a deacon. There are 3 orders of ordained clergy in the Church, the Episcopate (Bishop), the Presbyteriate (Priest), and the Diaconate (Deacon).
Deacons were originally comissioned to perform the services of the Church, acts of charity. In Acts, they were running the "soup kitchen" of the Jerusalem Church (they were tending to widows who back then were poor because they can't work and earn money by themselves, especially if they don't have children to support them). As the centuries rolled by, their function became more Liturgical. Initially they were attached to the Bishop, assisting the Bishop during Liturgy (vesting the bishop, bringing the gifts of bread and wine to the altar table, assisting with baptism which is why we had deaconesses early in the Church, etc.).
The word "permanent" is inserted today to connote that there would be men who are ordained to be deacons, and not merely those who are ordained to be a deacon because they are in formation to become a priest. The intention is that they remain deacons their entire lives, although there is really nothing preventing a bishop from elevating them to become priests.