History of Deacons in the Diocese of Charlotte


  • Pope Paul VI approves the U.S. bishops’ request to revive the order of permanent deacons.


  • The first deacons in the United States are ordained since the revival.


  • Bishop Michael Begley formally inaugurates the Permanent Deacon Program for the Diocese of Charlotte.
  • Interested men complete an application and are evaluated by their pastors and a screening committee.
  • The Admission Committee reviews each application and makes their recommendations to the bishop.
  • Twenty-two men begin classes at Sacred Heart College in Belmont, N.C., taught by priests of the diocese, monks from Belmont Abbey and the Sisters of Mercy from Sacred Heart Convent.


  • The first class of 19 deacons is ordained for the Diocese of Charlotte.

1985-early 1990s

  • Deacon formation classes continue to be held at Belmont Abbey College.


  • Charlotte Bishop John Donoghue appoints Msgr. Joseph Showfety as chairperson of a committee to evaluate the permanent diaconate program. The evaluation indicates the permanent diaconate is well accepted in the diocese by the laity, religious and most priests. However, the committee recommends improvements in selecting applicants into the program, additional study, especially homiletics, and more intensive formation. These changes are implemented and additional improvements continue to be made over  subsequent years.

Early 1990s

  • Deacon formation classes are first held at the Catholic Conference Center, which was built in 1988 in the rolling hills near Hickory, NC. It has hosted most deacon formation activities since then.

1990s on

  • Tremendous growth is witnessed in the ethnic populations in the diocese and ordination of deacons from those cultures (Hispanic, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong) to provide pastoral care.


  • Deacons assume responsibility for airport chaplaincy at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world.


  • Deacons assume responsibility for prison ministry in the diocese.


  • In total, 128 men have been ordained deacons in the diocese since the program began.
  • Belmont Abbey College Theology Department is contracted to provide theology classes for the Class of 2026 and beyond.
  • In the nearly 40 years since ordination of the first deacons in the Charlotte diocese, their role has become essential in providing for the needs of the faithful across western North Carolina. They are an integral part of Church life today at every level.
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