Diaconal formation seeks to be holistic in nature. This means that every element of the program seeks to assist each participant to mature in all aspects of his life. More specifically, formation seeks growth in four specific areas:
Human dimension: Each man who seeks to answer God’s call to the diaconate must strive for psychological, emotional and relational maturity. Key to this growth is a true self-awareness that recognizes one’s strengths and weaknesses. It demands a true sense of humility and a willingness to be honest and open to change.
Spiritual dimension: Each man must seek growth in his spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. This growth is manifested in his personal and communal prayer, relationship with his friends and parishioners, participation in spiritual exercises such as retreats, days and evenings of prayer, daily reflection, frequent use of the sacrament of reconciliation and participation in Sunday and daily Eucharist. Each aspirant will be assigned a spiritual director at the start of Aspirancy formation to assist him in his spiritual growth.
Intellectual Dimension: Growth in the knowledge and love of the Catholic faith, the Sacred Scriptures, the Church’s Tradition, the teaching of the Magisterium, our Catholic heritage and culture is essential in diaconal formation.
Pastoral Dimension: Since diaconal ministry is one of service, an ongoing, vibrant participation in pastoral ministry in a parish is a key element in diaconal formation. This ministry will be supervised with the assistance of the pastor and a mentor chosen by the pastor. Key to pastoral ministry is the willingness to be collaborative and obedient to authority.
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:
Inquiry Formation is the period wherein a man who believes he is being called to the diaconate makes an application to enter the formation program. At this stage of his life, the inquirer and his wife are asked to reflect upon their relationship with Christ, their parochial involvement and the health of their marriage. They are asked to attend Nights of Information during which they receive an informational packet that describes the requirements for admission into Aspirancy formation.
Aspirancy Formation is a period during which a man discerns if God is calling him to the diaconate. During this time he must also make the decision to follow that call.
Candidacy Formation is an intense period of ministerial, liturgical and theological training in preparation for ordination to the diaconate. It lasts approximately five years.
Ongoing 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.