by Leon Suprenant
Archbishop Naumann has approved the formation of a new cohort of candidates for the diaconate in 2015.
This group will embark on a five-year program that, God willing, will culminate in their ordination as deacons.
The first step in the process will be a series of information nights this fall held at various locations throughout the archdiocese. At these sessions, we will provide more details on the diaconate and answer any questions people might have.
The decision to step forward and apply for the program is a matter of discernment on the part of both the individual applicant as well as the archdiocese. For its part, the church does not expect “perfect” applicants, but men who are open to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Despite the marvelous individuality of all our deacon applicants, there are some qualities shared by all outstanding candidates for the diaconate. As we discern whether to accept them into the program, we consider many factors, including the presence (or absence) of these qualities:
1. Disciple Anyone who would apply for the diaconate should be an enthusiastic disciple of Jesus Christ. His relationship with Christ should be the source of his interest in the diaconate. Further, his discipleship should be lived in a positive way that serves as a bridge rather than an obstacle for others who are seeking Christ.
2. Service The most distinctive characteristic of a deacon is service. In fact, the word “deacon” comes from the Greek word for “servant”. The diaconate is not for men who fail to pour themselves out in service of others, especially the poor.
3. Prayer Candidates for the diaconate receive ample instruction on prayer. Still, the candidates should already manifest a desire for intimacy with the Lord through the sacraments and daily prayer. After all, we’re looking for disciples and not merely skilled bureaucrats or social workers.
4. Virtue Of course, character matters! While everyone is in some sense
a work in progress, we look for men who are balanced, humble, joyful, and compassionate.
5. Love for the church Love for Christ is not enough; we want men who, in imitation of Christ, are willing to lay down their lives for the church. Men with their own agendas or axes to grind aren’t encouraged to apply.
6. Parish Deacons must come from somewhere! Most good deacon applicants have a track record of service in their parish and local community and are typically recommended by their pastor.
7. Leadership We want men who have the courage and generosity to assume greater responsibility in the church. Deacons aren’t necessarily the most intelligent or skilled, but they are men open to leadership after the heart of Christ.