The Formation Process
Formation is especially important for those who are called by the Lord to serve as His deacons. In this case, the purpose of diaconal formation is to help each aspirant to come to know love, and serve the Lord with his whole heart, soul and mind, by loving service and commitment to his brothers and sisters. Such formation includes the intellectual, spiritual, parochial, marital, family and personal dimensions of a man’s life, and is indispensable for all who wish to answer a vocation to the diaconate.
Stages of Diaconal Formation
There are four distinct but related stages of growth and development that comprise diaconal formation. They can be summarized in the following way:
The purpose of this inquiry period is to provide an overview of the Ministry of Charity, Word and Altar to men who feel they may be called to the Permanent Diaconate. The initial inquiry should be made on the parish level and interested men should have a conversation with their pastor and or deacon. Wives and families are encouraged to be a part in this process. The Parish family should promote and encourage men to inquire, and pastors should send prospective names to the Coordinator of Vocations. In addition, current Permanent Deacons should also promote and recommend candidates to the Coordinator of Vocations. Qualified men should also attend, Diaconate Information Evenings, held quarterly at the Catholic Center.
An important part of the discernment process is recognizing the responsibility to make challenging and sometimes difficult decisions. Discernment requires prayer and conversation with the support of the Formation Team, family, priest or deacon and spiritual director. In the Aspirancy Program, our objective is to assist those who discern in this important journey. Our goal is to accompany you on your journey and create a Formation experience with the freedom to discover the Grace God wants you to receive, and how God wants you to respond. We will explore your primary vocation from Baptism to discipleship, viewing your state of life and your desired ministry. You will be asked who is the God we are listening to in discernment, and what is your image of God. You will be asked what is God's will for you, and are you willing to follow His plan. We will evaluate the attitudes necessary for discernment while looking at your self-awareness. During your journey you may experience an interior change and may decide, along with us, that you are called to the Permanent Diaconate.
Following the Aspirancy period is a four year period of continued theological education, spiritual growth, understanding of Christian identity, and appreciation for service and ministry. It is an intense period of ministerial, liturgical and theological training in preparation for ordination to the diaconate.
Following ordination, there is a three year period of required continuing education. With the support of your pastor, the newly ordained deacon learns to serve his parish while growing further in his understanding of the Catholic Faith and his call to service within the diocese. "Each deacon will grow to appreciate the special bond of charity with his bishop, allowing the bishop to care for those most in need through each deacon's ministry of charity and service." (Diaconate Personnel Manual, 2015) On-going diaconal formation extends in some form for a deacon’s entire active ministry. Through retreats, days and evenings of prayer and academic courses, each deacon is asked to continually nourish his spiritual and ministerial life in community with his fellow deacons and their wives.