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Candidate’s Corner – What Formation Has Meant To Me

Deacon Candidate Anthony Petillo – Saint Clare of Assisi Parish, Swedesboro

The Camden Diocese Diaconate Formation has been a very fulfilling progression of my continued discernment and self-development to the vocation of the permanent diaconate. For me, it has been a time for the preparation of the threefold-ordained ministry of Word, Sacrament and Charity.

If you are looking for genuine happiness that the secular world cannot provide, then diaconate formation might be for you. It has provided me the time to reassess my life, to make sure I am living it according to the way that God has intended. It has brought me to a deeper love for Christ, the ultimate servant. A deep love that will need to be shared with others.

Diaconate Formation has given me an improved understanding of the importance of developing a strong pastoral life in the Church and in my local worshipping community. This is continually being improved through a personal connection with Jesus Christ, which includes a vibrant joyful prayer life with a compelling desire to study and be devoted to the Word of God through the Holy Scriptures. It has been an opportunity for me to form a basis of sacrifice, and service needed to carry out the diaconal ministry of love.

Formation has also allowed me to escape from my comfort zone by building the needed trust in Christ to lead me on my journey, free of self-interest and individualism in order to better know, love and serve Him. My development has constantly brought me to a better understanding of the gift of humility, which is fundamental to making Christ known to others. It has taught me that living a humble existence is the only way that I can truly serve God and fulfill my mission in life. My priorities have changed to direct all my actions to the glory of God in one way or another and to limit my self-interests.

Living my life through diaconate formation has enabled me to how to learn to live as a true disciple of Christ, making Christ present to others by putting my pride and vanity off to the side. It has helped me realize that as a disciple of Christ, my actions need to be directed to evangelizing others, a responsibility given to us through our baptism. True heartfelt service to God and neighbor is the means of carrying out this important undertaking of love and joy.

Diaconate Formation is built on the foundation of our humanness. The intellectual or academic component provides the understanding needed for the spiritual, human and pastoral development. All of the dimensions add to the wholeness and readiness of a diaconate candidate. Diaconate Formation allows all of these dimensions to be formed properly as the powerful center for preparation of ministry. All are equally important and the means vital to a continual lifelong personal growth, necessary to properly carry out the will of God.

As the years of my formation have progressed, I have thought of the words so often used in Scripture, “do not be afraid”. It is not easy to let go, but Diaconate Formation will instill a sense of peace and comfort as it will continually reassure that what you are doing is preparing to do the Lord’s work. Because of this, I have experienced tremendous joy and spiritual reward in the process.

I recommend that anyone discerning a call to Ordained ministry as a Permanent Deacon, to open your heart, mind and soul so Christ can work miracles through you, just as He is doing so with me.