When I first began to discern my call to the diaconate several years ago, I knew that I had a strong desire to serve God and his people in a permanent and consecrated way and that God had placed this desire in my heart. I didn’t fully realize at the time what answering this call would require in terms of a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit, and how it would lead me to grow in so many and different ways. Thankfully, this was one of the many times God has taught me that his plans are better than my plans!
There are currently eleven men in diaconate formation for the Diocese of Bridgeport. God willing, six of us will be ordained to the diaconate in June of 2019 at St. Teresa’s Church in Trumbull after having been instituted to the ministry of acolyte in November.
For many years, the diaconate formation program was run entirely within the diocese, with most classes being taught at the Catholic Center during monthly formation weekends. Beginning in early 2016, the diocese began a partnership with St. Joseph’s Seminary (SJS) in Yonkers, New York in which candidates receive intellectual formation through an MA–Theology program on either a credit or audit basis. Having the opportunity to study at SJS has been truly a blessing, and it enables our monthly formation weekends to be focused more on spiritual formation and practical issues in liturgy and pastoral ministry.
It requires a great deal of commitment for our formation group to commute to Yonkers for classes each Monday and Wednesday evening, devote the effort needed for our reading and writing assignments and participate in our monthly formation weekends, in addition to our pastoral outreach efforts and our work and family obligations. It also requires a great deal of flexibility and understanding on the part of our families, especially our wives. Commitment and devotion are an important part of the diaconal ministry, though. The things that are most important in life require us to give of ourselves, and we can offer this self-gift as we seek to serve God and his Church.
Eric Keener is currently in his 4th Year of Diaconate Formation. He is in the inaugural group going to Dunwoodie in Yonkers for studies.
Are you being called to be a Deacon? Join us for our monthly Diaconate Discovery Evenings, the space to wonder, explore, share and come to an understanding about these and any other questions that you may have regarding serving the Church as a Permanent Deacon.
The next Diaconate Discovery Evening will take place at St. Philip Parish, 1 Father Conlon Place, Norwalk, CT 06851 on Thursday, January 10, 2019, @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.