History of the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Charleston

History of the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Charleston2018-11-29T14:36:28-04:00

The diaconate program in the Diocese of Charleston was initiated by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler and supervised by Msgr. Thomas R. Duffy, V.G., who was named the Director of Deacons.

During the many years that Msgr. Duffy directed the diaconate program, formational changes and improvements were made. The first Deacons ordained for service in the Diocese of Charleston was in 1971. Deacons were sent to serve throughout the diocese in parochial and diocesan assignments. Msgr. Duffy led the program from its days of infancy to its time of growth. Constant updating was seen in the academic training program. The priests of the diocese assisted in this effort by the gratuitous and generous gift of their time to educate the deacons.

In 1990, under the leadership of Bishop David B. Thompson, Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Joseph R. Roth was appointed Chairman/Director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate for the diocese. In 1999 Bishop Robert J. Baker re-appointed Msgr. Roth as the Director of Deacons, and was assisted by Rev. Edward W. Fitzgerald as the Spiritual Director of the Program and Rev. Jay Scott Newman as the Academic Director, responsible for the Aspirancy and Candidate paths of the program.
Msgr. Joseph R. Roth guided the Diaconate program for the Diocese of Charleston until his death in 2011. In addition to his book, The Deacon in Church Ministry, Msgr. Roth served on the Executive Board of the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD) from 1995-1998 and as President of the Association from 1996-1997.

In 2011, Rev. Edward Fitzgerald was appointed the Director of Deacons, under the leadership of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston. Fr. Fitzgerald was assisted by Deacon Andre Guillet, the Director of Diaconate Formation, as well as Deacon(s) George Tierney and Gabriel Cuervo, who assisted regionally.

In 2014, Deacon Andre Guillet was named the Director of the Diaconate, the first Deacon to hold this position. He is assisted by Deacon(s) Gabriel Cuervo, Ron Anderson, and Regi Armstrong.

There was no active diaconate formation program after 2007, however the formation program was reinstated in 2011 and is currently very successful. Thirty-five men were ordained in 2016, the first ordination in over 9 years, another fourteen in 2017. The formation program continues to grow, with a new program beginning every two years.