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The essays collected in this book, which is sure to be at the foundation of every deacon's library, aim to give the reader an overview of the theological and pastoral nature of the diaconate and thus to clarify the fundamental identity of the deacon, for those who are discerning such a call as aspirants and those who are already candidates for the office. Editor and contributor James Keating divides the book into three sections: historical foundations, pastoral foundations, and sociological foundations for the diaconate, i.e., the core elements of the diaconal identity. Some of the subjects covered are the history of the diaconate, the morality of the deacon, the deacon and work, and the deacon's wife. The most significant deacon theologians contribute to this text as well as priest experts on the diaconate. It is a complete systematic academic text for the first years of formation of deacons according to the New Roman National Directory (2005). As such, it is indispensable. This is the first text ever that specifies the theological formation of the deacon student over a range of themes and specialties. There is nothing like it in print.