The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is threefold – bishop, priest and deacon.
Order of Deacons
There are Permanent Deacons, usually married men and they remain deacons for life. There are Transitional Deacons who are studying for the priesthood and the diaconate is a step on the way towards ordination to priesthood.
The ministry of the Deacon is one of service and charity, of witness and proclaiming the Good News, and of leadership in prayer and liturgy. The Deacon is committed to the Bishop and the local Church through ordination. His ministry is established to reflect the ministry of Christ, so that strengthened and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, he serves and enables others to serve and thus become actively involved in the faith community.
At Mass, the deacon is the ordinary minister of the proclamation of the Gospel. In fact, a priest, bishop, or even the Pope should not proclaim the Gospel if a deacon is present.
The Permanent Diaconate was introduced in 2009 by Bishop Patrick Dunn for the Auckland Diocese and 14 men were ordained in 2012 after three and a half years’ formation. There were four permanent deacons already ministering in the diocese who were ordained overseas.