A History of the Diaconate (Part 2 of 10)

Martyrdom of St. Lawrence: 1592 Pellegrino Tibaldi

Who are deacons and what do they do? The second Vatican Council tells us that strengthened by sacramental grace, deacons are dedicated to the People of God in service of the liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentuim #29)
Men who are ordained deacons receive the first of three degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders, the other degrees being that of priest and bishop. At the ordination of deacons the bishop lays hands on the candidate signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the deacon’s ministry of service. Thus, deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. Through their ordination they are configured to Christ who came “as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27) “Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1596)