Annual Survey Provides Insight into the State of the Permanent Diaconate in the Church

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations has released its annual survey, A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate in 2023: A Study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since 2005, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has conducted this survey which provides important statistics and forecasting trends on the state of the permanent diaconate in the Church in the United States. 

Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations expressed his gratitude for the service of permanent deacons in the Church: “An important part of the life of deacons has been their service of the poor or vulnerable by bringing them the love of Christ and guidance. The faithful and tireless witness of deacons is greatly appreciated, and it challenges each of us to strive to serve our neighbor better. I invite the faithful to pray and support deacons in their efforts to spread the Word of God and serve those who are many times the least, the last and the lost.” 

The survey utilized contact information from the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD) and was sent to the Office of the Permanent Diaconate in the Latin and Eastern Rite (arch)dioceses and eparchies. In total, CARA received responses from 128 of the 185 (arch)dioceses/eparchies whose bishops are members of the USCCB and have an active Office of Deacons, for a 69% response rate. 

  • The estimated number of permanent deacons in active ministry was 13,718 in 2023, roughly 69% of all permanent deacons in the Latin Church. 
  • The Archdiocese of Chicago had the greatest number of permanent deacons (827) followed by Galveston-Houston (346), New York (357), and Joliet in Illinois (307). 
  • There were 587 men ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2023. Since 2014, the estimated number of ordinations averaged 613. 
  • Most active deacons are between 60-69 years old (42%) followed by deacons 70 and older (36%). 
  • Most permanent deacons are Caucasian/white (73%) followed by Hispanic/Latino (20%), Asian/Pacific Islander (3%), African American/black (3%), and Native American/other (1%). 
  • Active permanent deacons most commonly serve in a parish ministerial position, such as a DRE or youth minister (23%), followed by a parish non-ministerial position, such as administration or business (20%), diocesan non-ministerial positions (12%). Additionally, 9% were entrusted with the pastoral care of one or more parishes, 8% serve in prison ministry and hospital ministry. 

The full survey conducted by CARA may be accessed here.


Subscribe today!