There are more than 17,000 permanent deacons in the United States. They are the only married clergy in the Catholic Church. They are the men who bring the experiences of family and career to their preaching and ministry. The simplest way to describe a deacon’s service to a parish is to list his functions—he proclaims the Gospel at Mass, he preaches and teaches in the name of the Church, he baptizes, witnesses weddings, and conducts wake and funeral services. However, a deacon’s value to a parish and the Church goes beyond a mere laundry list of specified duties.