The permanent diaconate is one of the lesser known treasures of our Church. Although such deacons are uncommon in 20th century Western Canada, the permanent diaconate has a long and venerable history, in our Church.
The service of deacons is well documented from the very earliest days of the Church. In the Book of Acts, the apostles ordain seven deacons to help them in their ministry (6:16). Writing to Timothy, St. Paul refers to the qualities of a deacon (I Tim 3:8-13).
The Diaconate flourished in the western Church until the fifth century, when, for various reasons, it experienced a slow decline, ultimately surviving merely as an intermediate stage for candidates preparing for priestly ordination.
The Council of Trent wished to restore the Permanent Diaconate to what it was in ancient times. This desire was reiterated at Vatican II “it will be possible for the future to restore the diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy....(and confer it) even upon married men, provided they be of more mature age, and also on suitable young men for whom, however, the law of celibacy must remain in force”.
Excerpt from the Vatican website: Basic norms for the formation of permanent deacons #2