Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church,1570)
The establishment of the diaconate took place with the ordination of the seven deacons described in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 6:1-7) Among these deacons were St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and St. Philip the Deacon. While the permanent diaconate has always been maintained by the Eastern Church, it was at the Second Vatican Council that the restoration of the permanent diaconate was recommended for the Western Church. This restoration began in Canada in 1969 and in our own diocese in 1998 by Bishop Frederick Henry.