The call that each person receives in baptism to be more fully molded into the image of the Lord through cooperation with God’s grace occurs throughout our lives through our daily work and prayer. The idea of being molded reminds us of the teaching of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:7) who likened our loving God to a great potter who by His love and grace, helps to shape the gift of our lives according to His great love. Thus, every Christian must be open to ongoing formation at the hand of God.
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.
It is important to remember that such formation is more than education. Education is the academic pursuit of knowledge in a particular field. Diaconal formation is a lifelong process by which a person is molded into the image of Jesus the servant. It involves not only academic studies, but also one’s prayer life, values, daily witness, self-understanding and ministry.