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Survey: Number of permanent deacons in the United States expected to ‘stay flat’ but continue to slowly decline

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Results from an annual survey of the U.S. Catholic Church’s permanent diaconate show the estimated number of deacons in active ministry was 13,695 in 2022, the lowest since 2011.

“While the share of active permanent deacons in the Latin Church is expected to remain relatively stable (72% ± 3% in 2027), this trend is consistent with the slow decline of the diaconate in recent years,” a report said. on the survey results released June 8 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At the same time, “an unusually high number of men (910) have been ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2022,” he said. “Since 2014, the estimated number of ordinations averaged 642.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago had the most permanent deacons (868), followed by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (361) and the Archdiocese of New York (350). The dioceses ranked fourth and fifth in number of deacons were the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, which had 322 deacons, and the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York, with 318.

The Center for Applied Apostolate Research conducted the survey on behalf of the USCCB’s Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations Secretariat. CARA, based at Georgetown University in Washington, conducts social science studies for and about the Catholic Church.

Since 2005, CARA has conducted an annual diaconate survey to provide statistics and predictive trends on the state of the permanent diaconate in the United States.

The report released by the USCCB is based on a survey conducted in 2023 to 2022. In total, the dioceses and eparchies that responded to the survey represent approximately 81 percent of all permanent deacons in the United States, according to the report. .

“Standing deacons are essential to the church’s ministry of love and service, especially to the poor and vulnerable,” said Bishop Earl A. Boyea of ​​Lansing, Michigan, chairman of the USCCB committee. on the clergy, consecrated life and vocations, in a press release accompanying the publication of the report.

“By virtue of their ordination, they bear witness to Christ the Servant in the daily exercise of their work and ministry,” he said. “I invite all the faithful to continue to pray for our deacons so that they remain faithful to their vocation to bring the presence of Christ to all”.

The survey also showed that most active deacons are between the ages of 60 and 69 (41%) or 70 or older (36%). Most permanent deacons are white (76%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (18%), Asian/Pacific Islander (3%), African American/Black (3%) and Native American/Other (1 %), according to the report.

“Deacons hold a wide range of ministry positions in the church,” he said. “The most common position is a parochial ministerial position, such as a DRE or a youth minister (22%), followed by that of providing pastoral care for one or more parishes (21%), a non-ministerial parish position , such as administration or business (15%), non-ministerial diocesan positions (9%) and hospital ministry (9%)”.

The full survey conducted by CARA is available at https://www.usccb.org/resources/diaconate%20portrait%202022-2023.pdf.

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