by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Do you have the “right stuff” to be a permanent deacon?
You won’t know unless you start on the journey of discernment — a process of prayer and self-discovery. And that journey begins with attending a deacon’s information night, said Leon Suprenant.
“A lot of guys feel that they’re not worthy, and in some sense they should feel that,” said Suprenant, co-director of the office of the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. “This is not something you can just will yourself into being. This is a call from God.”
No man comes to the diaconate as “the complete package,” fully formed in knowledge and spiritual development.
“It’s not like God calls the qualified, but he qualifies the called,” said Suprenant.
Men who are curious, interested or feel called will have an opportunity to take that first step of discernment during a series of eight permanent deacon information nights from late August to late October, sponsored by the office of the permanent diaconate. (See sidebar.)
The information nights will lead to the formation of the fourth cohort (or class) of permanent deacons, who will undergo a five-year process of formation.
The first cohort was ordained in 2011, and the second in 2017. The third cohort is two years away from ordination.
Currently, there are about 40 permanent deacons serving in the archdiocese.
Suprenant expects that the fourth cohort will consist of 20 to 25 men.
Men are encouraged to begin a conversation about their interest in the permanent diaconate with their wives (if married) and children — before and after the meeting.
No one can sign up for the program after just one meeting. These information nights are just the beginning of the process, said Suprenant. But these meetings are designed to answer questions and provide information.
“We give a presentation about what the diaconate is, and then about what our program entails, and some of the requirements for admission into the program,” said Suprenant. “We provide tools for discerning a possible vocation to the diaconate.”
A lot of information is provided, and usually a few deacon candidates — as well as some deacons with their wives — are present to answer questions and talk about formation and the diaconate.
“I don’t think it’s a waste of time for anyone to go,” said Suprenant. “As an archdiocese, there’s a benefit for us to come to a deeper collective understanding of the permanent diaconate — especially for parishes who don’t have deacons.”
Usually, men who are already active in the church and want to make a deeper commitment of service to the church are good prospects for the program.
“Men might be impatient about getting started, but this is a major undertaking, so we move forward with all deliberate speed,” said Suprenant.
“We want to make sure this is right for them, their spouse, the church, and seems to be what God is calling them to do,” he continued. “Figuring these things out can’t be arrived at in the course of one evening.”
There is no cost to attend the information nights, nor is registration required.
For additional information, contact Suprenant at (913) 647-0358, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at: www.archkck.org/deacons.