The diaconate program in the Diocese of Charleston was initiated by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler and supervised by Msgr. Thomas R. Duffy, VG, who was named Director of Deacons.
During the many years that Msgr. Duffy directed the diaconate program, formational changes and improvements were made. The first Deacons were ordained for service in the Diocese of Charleston 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 generous gift of their time to educate the deacons.
In 1990, under the leadership of Bishop David B. Thompson, 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. Roth guided the Diaconate program 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.
There was no active diaconate formation program after 2007, however the formation program was reinstated in 2011, when Rev. Fitzgerald was appointed the Director of Deacons, under the leadership of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. He was assisted by Deacon André Guillet, the Director of Diaconate Formation, as well as Deacon(s) George Tierney and Gabriel Cuervo, who assisted regionally.
In 2014, Deacon André Guillet was named the Director of the Diaconate, the first Deacon to hold this position.
Currently there are men in formation with planned ordinations for the Classes of 2023 and 2025.