The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

Cathedral Mass to Celebrate 50 Years of the Permanent Diaconate!

On 1 May 1971, following the restitution of the Permanent Diaconate in the years following the Second Vatican Council, the first Ordination of Permanent Deacons in England and Wales took place in Leeds Cathedral.

To mark this occasion, Bishop Marcus is celebrating Mass in Leeds Cathedral at 12:00noon on Saturday 1 May (the Memorial of St Joseph the Worker) to which all Permanent Deacons in the Diocese of Leeds and their wives have been invited.

Our Permanent Deacons do so much in the parishes which together comprise our Diocese: please feel free to join the livestreamed Mass via our YouTube Channel, Leeds Cathedral Live!



The 12:00noon Mass at Leeds Cathedral on Saturday 1 May 2021 will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Leeds. Deacons were very much a part of the life of the Church in its early centuries but over time men came to be ordained to the diaconate only ‘transitionally’ as a necessary stage before ordination to the priesthood. Wishing to renew the practice of the early Church, the Second Vatican Council restored the order of deacons as “a proper and permanent order of the hierarchy”[1], so that it would be “a driving force for the Church’s service or diakonia toward the local Christian communities and a sign or sacrament of the Lord Christ Himself.”[2]

On 2 May 1971 at Leeds Cathedral, the first two permanent deacons, Rev Maurice Pearce and Rev Anthony Winn, were ordained for ministry in the Diocese of Leeds. In fact, these men were the first permanent deacons ordained in England and Wales following the restoration of the sacred order by the Second Vatican Council.

In 2021, we have 16 permanent deacons exercising their ministry in parishes across the Diocese and holding various specific pastoral responsibilities assigned to by the Bishop. We are blessed as a diocese with having 8 new candidates at various stages of formation for ordination as permanent deacons.

The deacon is meant to be a “living icon of Christ the Servant within the Church”[3]. His ministry is meant to encourage all the baptized to commit themselves to service of the Church and the world. For this reason, “The vocation of the permanent deacon is a great gift of God to the Church.”[4]

The ministry of the deacon is exercised in the three ‘works’ or ‘duties’ given to all those who are ordained: teaching, sanctifying and pastoral governance. The deacon’s work of ‘teaching’ is exercised by proclaiming the gospel, preaching, and by giving catechesis. The work of ‘sanctifying’ is exercised by prayer, in the solemn administration of baptism, in the custody and distribution of the Eucharist, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in presiding at the rites of funeral and burial, and in the administration of sacramentals. His duty of pastoral governance is exercised in dedication to works of charity and assisting in the pastoral oversight of communities or sectors of Church life, especially with regard to guiding the Church’s charitable activities.

If you would like to know more about formation for the diaconate in the Diocese of Leeds and the requirements on those who may have a vocation to this ministry, please contact the Diocesan Director for the Permanent Diaconate, Rev David Arblaster, Email:

Please pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and to religious life.


[1] Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, n. 29

[2] Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Ad Pascendum, introduction

[3] Congregation for Catholic Education, Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, n.11

[4] John Paul II, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, n. 2.