Requirements to become a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church

Updated July 20, 2017

Deacons in the Roman Catholic Church are ordained servants of the church and assist their priests in various services. To become a deacon, one must adhere to a standard of living that is in accord with the tenets of the church. Those aspiring to the diaconate must go through a rigorous selection and training process, as well as provide an extensive list of documents.

Personal life

Men who wish to become members of the diaconate, the society of deacons in the church, must live their life within the rules of the church. Deacons must attend and confess regularly at their local parish church. They must be at least 35 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. If you have ever had a marriage that ended in divorce, you must have or receive an annulment from the church. In addition, married men who wish to be accepted must have the approval and blessing of their wife. Men who are married should expect to remain married if accepted. If a wife dies before the husband he must remain celibate.


When applying to become a deacon, you must present an extensive list of documents. You will have to submit a birth certificate and proof of residency, as well as church-issued baptism, confirmation and marriage certificates. An academic transcript and health certificate stating that you are in good health is required. Expect to include a variety of letters such as a letter from your wife expressing her permission and support and personal letters of recommendation, including one from your current employer.

Church approval process

Before starting your application, you must complete the formation programme, which takes about five years to finish. This programme is a process that tests your faith in becoming a deacon and teaches prospective deacons the duties they will expected to perform if they are ordained. When you are ready to begin your application process, discuss your desire to become a deacon with your parish priest. If he feels that you are an acceptable candidate, he will submit your name to the diaconate council for your diocese, expressing his opinion that you are a Catholic in good standing. When the diocese begins reviewing your application, you will be asked to submit the required documents, sign a waiver allowing them to make a background check and undergo a psychological exam. You will then undergo a series of interviews, including personal interviews, interviews of your wife in and out of your presence, and interviews with any children remaining in your home. The diocese will ask you to write a statement about yourself for review. At this point your active participation in the process is over, and you must wait for your bishop to review your case and make a decision on your admission to the diaconate.

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About the Author

Jhonna Moye began writing professionally in 2010 and has had her travel and tourism articles published on various websites. She received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Concord University in Athens, W.Va.