by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For every man who ever wondered, here’s a chance to answer that question: Do I have what it takes to be a permanent deacon?
The archdiocesan office of the permanent diaconate will offer a series of information nights this fall at six different locations across the archdiocese.
Registration is not necessary — just show up.
All men and their wives, if they are married, are invited to attend. Don’t expect to fill out an application just yet, however.
“The information night is the first stage where people learn more about what the diaconate is and, in general, what it means in the archdiocese,” said Leon Suprenant, pastoral associate for administration in the permanent diaconate office.
“That’s where we begin our relationship with the guys, who are then invited to go further,” he continued. “They’re given discernment materials and are connected with a deacon couple that comes to visit them. At some point in early 2015, we’ll begin a more formal application process.”
The six information nights are being held at different locations in the archdiocese to encourage more men from the urban core, rural areas and small towns to apply. Until now, most applicants have come from Topeka and Johnson County.
Additionally, the archdiocese is hoping more Hispanic men will apply. Spanish language translators will be available for at least the first two information nights.
“If it is in your mind and heart, it may be placed there by God,” said Mike Moffitt, a member of St. Paul Parish in Olathe, currently in formation for the permanent diaconate.
“Discernment involves gathering information, asking questions and praying,” he continued. “Attending these information meetings, applying for the program and the first year of aspirancy are all part of the discernment process. Do not be afraid to discern God’s will.”
The aspirants who begin the process of study, formation and discernment will be the third cohort (or group) of permanent deacons in the history of the archdiocese. The first cohort was formed in February 2006, and 17 men were ordained on April 9, 2011.
Deacon Tim McEvoy was the first permanent deacon to receive faculties to serve in an archdiocesan parish, on June 1, 2006. He was ordained on May 6, 1995, for the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri.
The second cohort, which will be ordained in 2017, is beginning its third year.
“The call for a third cohort reflects the vision and plan to have a more regular cycle of permanent deacon formation leading to ordination,” said Suprenant. “What this would result in is a three-year cycle of ordination.
The cohort formed in 2015 would be ordained in 2020.”
The three-year cycle would permit some cohorts to share formation and study events, and forge a sense of camaraderie among the aspirants and candidates, said Suprenant.
For information, call (913) 647-0358; send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the website at: www.arch kck.org/deacons.
The permanent deacon information nights and locations are below. All sessions begin at 7 p.m.
- Oct. 6: Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kansas City, Kansas
- Oct. 15: Prince of Peace Parish, Olathe
- Oct. 23: Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish, Topeka
- Oct. 28: Holy Trinity, Paola
- Nov. 5, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Seneca
- Nov. 10, Sacred Heart Parish, Emporia
You might be a deacon candidate if . . .
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Maybe someone has said to you, “Did you ever think about becoming a deacon?” Or maybe, that thought has occurred to you more than once.
So what do you do with it?
“What I’d tell them is to seriously pray about it and look at their attitude toward service,” said Marcos Navarro, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee and currently in formation for the permanent diaconate.
“He should ask himself if this is his calling — is it what he wants to do,” Navarro continued. “This is not something that should be taken lightly, because it’s a commitment. I’d equate it to getting married.”
Brad Sloan, a member of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka, recommended listening to the Holy Spirit.
“One thing which all Christians should practice is keeping hearts and minds open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit,” said Sloan, also in formation for the permanent diaconate.
“If you’ve been thinking about the permanent diaconate as a calling or even have slight interest, I believe that is the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit prompting you,” he said. “Our duty is to go where the Holy Spirit leads. It may or may not be as a permanent deacon, but we won’t know that unless we are willing to follow him and see where he leads us.”
Discerning a vocation to the permanent diaconate isn’t simply a matter of attending one information night and filling out an application. It takes time.
“Discernment isn’t a single event,” said Mike Moffitt, a member of St. Paul Parish in Olathe and in formation for the permanent diaconate. “It will occur over a five-year period, possibly even up to the date of one’s ordination. Just because you are taking these first steps doesn’t necessarily mean you are being called or will be ordained. Again, just be open to God’s will and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.”
Two things deacon candidates stress over and over is prayer and talking with others.
“Talk to people you trust who are like-minded in your spiritual journey, like your spiritual director, your priest and your wife, if you’re married,” said Sloan. “The discernment process involves others and is not something only you determine. And pray!”
The most important people men need to consult are their wives and children.
“I would start with asking one’s wife if she feels you are being called to the diaconate,” said Moffitt. “I would then ask if she feels a similar call to be the wife of a deacon and to possibly assist in that ministry.”
“The couple should also ask whether this is the right time in their lives for the training,” he continued. “Ask, ‘Are we in a good developmental stage? Are we at the point in our lives when we are in control of our time, not controlled by our roles and commitments?’ Explore how your role as an aspirant, candidate and permanent deacon could impact each family member both positively and negatively.”
There will be doubts, of course, but it is normal for men to ask, “Do I have what it takes to be a permanent deacon?”
“Remember that God qualifies the called as he did with Peter,” said Sloan. “He doesn’t call you because you are already qualified. It is not by our own merits that we gain anything from him. Grace is a gift for our sake that flows from his love for us.”