Discerning the Call

In discerning the vocation, it is important to recognize that the desire to serve the Church in a greater capacity is not, in itself, a call to the diaconate. Laymen can serve in many ways through participation in such organizations as the Knights of Columbus, liturgical and pastoral ministries, along with corporal works of mercy. The call to the diaconate begins with the desire to grow in greater intimacy with Christ the Servant.

The first stirrings of a vocation to the diaconate are often explored at a personal level and usually begin with seeking information about the diaconate and the formation program. Here, an individual initially reflects upon the nature of his perceived call. Primacy must be given at this time to the spiritual dimension, and central to this is spiritual guidance. Because every spiritual journey is personal and individual, it requires personal guidance.

The pastor and others on the parish staff are particular resources at this time. As the majority of those who inquire about the diaconate are married, they should be directed to pay particular attention to discussing their possible vocation with their wives and families. The initial information and conversations with their pastor and others should assist and encourage these discussions.

For a married man, the support and consent of his wife is required. Therefore, both spouses need to make sure that support and consent, even at this early stage of discernment, arise from an informed understanding. An inquiry and eventual application for entrance into diaconal formation is not just a personal and family journey. The Church must accompany it. The parish is the primary experience of Church for most inquirers. It is the responsibility of this community and, in particular, its pastor to invite from among its members those who may be qualified to serve as ordained ministers of the Church.

An inquiry about the diaconate and the formation process eventually includes the diocesan Church. Information sessions, the exploration of the criteria for a diaconal vocation, and particular counsel presented by the diocesan diaconate office can aid an individual in his decision to move forward to a formal application. When the inquirer is presented by his pastor and submits an application, the formal process for admission begins. This initial discernment is continued with particular focus on the applicant’s abilities and potential for ordained ministry. Both the applicant and the diocesan Church enter into an intensive screening process. For more information contact the Office of the Diaconate at 856-583-2858 or email michael.carter@camdendiocese.org