The diaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry. Any man who is to be ordained to the priesthood must first be ordained as a transitional deacon. Deacons serve in the ministries of liturgy, Word, and charity.
In 1979 the Diocese of Gary instituted a formation program for deacon candidates. The first permanent deacons were ordained in 1981. Deacons were also ordained in 1982, 1983, 2000, 2003 and 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2017.
Liturgically, deacons can officiate at baptisms, weddings, wake services and funerals, and, when properly trained, preach. In addition, deacons can engage in other ministries, e.g., prisons, religious education, youth, etc.