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Nearly 40% of world’s permanent deacons serve in US

June 19, 2024

An estimated 19,855 of the world’s permanent deacons (39.5%) serve in dioceses of the United States, which has 6% of the world’s Catholic population, according to a newly-released survey conducted for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

The Vatican reported in April that there are 50,450 permanent deacons worldwide—up from 49,176 the previous year. However, the number of permanent deacons in the United States is decreasing.

“During the 2023 calendar year, 564 new permanent deacons were ordained in the responding arch/dioceses,” according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. “At the same time, 368 deacons retired from active ministry and another 357 deacons died. As is the case with priests in the United States, there are not enough new permanent deacons being ordained to make up for the numbers who are retiring from active ministry and dying each year.”

The survey also found that

  • 69% of permanent deacons in the US are in active ministry
  • the most deacon-rich dioceses numerically are the Archdiocese of Chicago (827 permanent deacons), Archdiocese of New York (357), Archdiocese of San Antonio (346), Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (308), and Diocese of Joliet, IL (307)
  • the most deacon-rich dioceses proportionally, with the highest ratios of permanent deacons to Catholics, are the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Diocese of Lexington (KY), Diocese of Rapid City (SD), Diocese of Amarillo (TX), and Diocese of Knoxville (TN)
  • 93% of permanent deacons are married and 4% are widowers
  • 18% of permanent deacons in active ministry are in their 50s, 42% are in their 60s, and 36% are 70 or older
  • 73% of permanent deacons in active ministry are white, 20% are Hispanic, 3% are Asian-American, and 3% are African-American
  • 66% of permanent deacons in active ministry have at least a college degree


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