The principal function of the permanent deacon is to collaborate with the bishop and the priests in the exercise of a ministry of Word, Liturgy and Service, which is not of their own wisdom but of the Word of God, calling all to conversion and holiness. ("Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons", 1998)
In the Diocese of Little Rock, the directors of formation and the minister to deacons provide a unified diocesan formation program in human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions for those called to ordained service.
The English and Hispanic Permanent Diaconate Formation program has the responsibility for helping interested applicants discern their possible call to formation and ordination. This includes the inquirer, aspirant and candidate phases of formation, with considerable evaluation and testing.
The Minister to Deacons has responsibility for post-ordination continuing formation for the ordained permanent deacons and their spouses in human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas.
At his address to the permanent deacons of the United States ("The Heart of the Diaconate Servants of the Mysteries of Christ and Servants of Your Brothers and Sisters," Sept. 19, 1987), Pope John Paul II said the permanent deacon's ministry "is the Church's service sacramentalized ... This is at the very heart of the diaconate to which you are called: to be a servant of the mysteries of Christ and, at one and the same time, to be a servant of your brothers and sisters."