Diaconate Study Abstract


NADD will conduct a major study of the Permanent Diaconate in the United States in anticipation of the 2018 Congress which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the diaconate.  This study builds on two previous national studies published by the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) in 1981 and 1996 as well as other research on the diaconate to focus attention and increase understanding about the evolving role of diaconal ministry in the Church in the United States. 

NADD is working with CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University) and the USCCB to implement this new study.  Based on current funding, the new study will have two phases: 

Phase 1: Survey of Deacon Directors

This phase will extend and deepen the survey of deacon directors that CARA has done for the USCCB for the last few years.  This survey would also replicate some of the questions from the 1981 and 1996 studies published by the USCCB.  The survey will ask deacon directors in greater detail about the dimensions of deacon ministry in the United States, recruiting men to the diaconate, how they form and train deacons, what they do for ongoing formation for deacons, and what challenges they see for the diaconate in the future. 


Phase 2: Survey of Active Deacons

This phase will replicate some of the questions from the 1981 and 1996 surveys of deacons as well as some questions from the national telephone poll of deacons that CARA conducted in 2001.  Additional questions would address deacons' perceptions about the changing dimensions of deacon ministry in the United States, their sources of satisfaction in ministry, challenges faced in diaconal ministry, and other questions that would extend the understanding of diaconal ministry today and into the future.  The analysis would pay particular attention to deacon formation cohorts, to explore how the three paradigms of deacon formation have affected deacons’ attitudes and perceptions.  


Results of the surveys will be complied and published by NADD in time for the 2018 Congress. 


Information about CARA

CARA is an independent, national, non-profit, Georgetown University-affiliated research center that has more than 50 years’ experience conducting social scientific studies about and for the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: 

• to increase the Church’s self-understanding

• to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers

• to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism

The CARA staff is composed of professionally trained academic social scientists who have earned graduate degrees. CARA’s longstanding policy is to be independent and objective, to let research findings stand on their own, and never take an advocacy position or go into areas outside its social science competence. One aspect of CARA’s work is monitoring trends in the permanent diaconate in the Catholic Church in the United States.  CARA collects data annually from all diaconate formation programs in the United States and has surveyed directors of the Office of the Diaconate in U.S. dioceses and published annual reports of that survey from 2006 through 2015.