Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz is surrounded by 28 new deacons and more than three dozen concelebrants at the ordination Mass on June 9, 2007, at All Saints Church in Knoxville. Photo by Adam Brimer.

The Diocese of Knoxville’s first class of permanent deacons—nearly 30 men—was ordained in June 2007. The second class was ordained in June 2016. These men now serve parishes throughout the diocese, as do a number of deacons who were ordained in other dioceses but now serve in East Tennessee.

Within the Catholic Church, there are three orders of ordained ministers: bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops put it:

Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” The entire church is called by Christ to serve, and the deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-church. . . .

As ministers of word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the church. As ministers of sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the church’s resources to meet those needs. . . .

For many years ordained ministers “ascended” from one office to another, culminating in ordination to the presbyterate, or priesthood. The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), however, authorized the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order of ministry.

Permanent deacons may be married men, provided they are over the age of 35.

For more information on the diaconate program, contact Deacon Tim Elliott, the diocesan director of the Diaconate Office, at 865-531-0770.


“‘I have called you’: Bishop Stika ordains 23 men as permanent deacons on ‘historic’ day for the Diocese of Knoxville” – July 2016 East Tennessee Catholic

“Diocese’s newest deacons answer the the call” – July 2016 East Tennessee Catholic

“Discerning the permanent diaconate” – December 2019 East Tennessee Catholic