Discernment

How do I know if God is calling me to be a Deacon?

A person who thinks they might have a vocation to the diaconate should first pray, then talk about it with family and friends, then find out more by contacting the diaconate office.

There is a maxim that says, "Grace builds on nature". In many cases, a person's diaconal qualities have been observed and experienced by friends, family and members of his parish community; in these cases, it is often some of these people, or the local priest, who suggest to a man that he ought to consider the possibility of the diaconate. Perhaps a man has become interested in the diaconate because of his own experience with deacons or through something he has read. In every case, this vocation is a share in the evangelisation for which the bishop is responsible. It is the bishop who calls the deacon, confers the Spirit upon him in diaconal ordination, and appoints him to the canonical office where he will serve.

Any Catholic man from 21 years onwards (31 years for married men) who is capable of carrying out his family duties, holding down his job and, in addition, is capable of giving the time necessary to enter into the diaconal formation program is potentially a suitable candidate. An inability to offer much time in the short term to church work (e.g., because of family and work commitments) need not be a deterrent to choosing men who can give some time and otherwise seem well suited to diaconal ministry. Sowing the seeds of a vocation is important, for when work and family commitments have diminished, the seed sown some years back may begin to flourish.

The candidate must be intelligent enough to follow a normal course of studies without being unduly weighed down by it, healthy enough to carry out the duties of a deacon, with the sort of generosity of character that is still open to being formed and with a soundness and stability of character that invites trust.

He must have the right intention – to model himself on Christ the Servant who came not to be served but to serve.

He must be accepting of the call of the Church – that he be willing to put himself in the hands of the bishop and those the bishop has chosen to carry out the discernment and formation process. No one can claim the right to be ordained. His desire to be ordained is never sufficient in itself; rather he must wait on the call of the Church.

It normally takes a minimum of one year from the time the Director for the Permanent Diaconate is given a candidate's name to the time that person is presented to the diocesan interview board. If he is perceived as having a possible vocation and accepted for the Diaconate Formation Program, it will normally take at least another four years before he is ordained as a deacon.

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