Any young deacons out there?

Hey folks,

Long time no see. I actually was getting rather riled up leading up to the election and didn’t like being angry with my brothers and sisters in Christ so I asked to have this account anonymized but it never happened so, here I am, I guess.

Quick question for you: Are, or were, any of you younger permanent deacons? If not, do you know any? I’m a convert but I take my faith very seriously. Aside from my family, it’s the only thing I truly care about. My wife and I are looking to move so we have been visiting different parishes and trying to find the right one to raise our kids within. One thing that’s gotten me is I’ve been asked three times now if I’d consider becoming a deacon after meeting the priests. Each time I’ve said that some day I’d like to but I’m only 28. Two of the priests didn’t push the matter any further but another just told me that it’s a 5 year process anyway and so I should start if I’m willing.

How has it worked for you or those that you know who have done it? I’m fine dedicating my free-time to the deaconate and my life revolves around studying and the Church right now anyway, but I still work. I work an average of 46 hours a week, attend college full-time, travel for work 2-3 months a year, and I like to spend time with my family as often as I’m able. So that’s all that I could give: my free-time. The stuff that I’ve got left after all that + sleep. Do parishes find it acceptable for a deacon to be busy, or are they expected to dedicate all of their time to the deaconate? Or is it simply that must wait until retirement so that they can dedicate all of their time to it?

Let me know your thoughts. I’ve read the other couple threads that touch on this topic but I feel that my scenario and questions are somewhat dissimilar to those older, locked threads.

Bahoooo

I’m not a deacon, but your responsibilities would be a serious impediment to another vocation.

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Did the priests making the suggestion know you were married and had children?

If they did, I can’t say I feel they were wise or prudent to suggest being a deacon.

In fact, in our Archdiocese, they are very cautious as a father’s primary vocation is to BE a father and to prioritise the family.

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I’m not sure it’s that much of an impediment.

One of the deacons in my former parish was married, had a daughter in elementary school, plus a full time job, and he handled it just fine.

I think it depends on how many responsibilities the pastor expects him to take on. As long as there is good communication and the expectations are reasonable, it shouldn’t be an issue.

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I don’t think it’s impossible. Most if not all permanent deacons have full time jobs, since they’re not paid for their ministry. I will say, though, that the deacons I know who have families tend to have older kids, not elementary school maniacs running around.

I’m definitely busy but it’s not like I don’t also have 20 hours a week to waste playing video games and watching TV either. My wife not working and homeschooling the kids helps life stay manageable even with work and school being difficult.

What would you consider young? In our diocese we have several 40-something year old Deacons. I am 53 and hope to be ordained in May if it is God’s will. I am married, have a full time job, and my sons are teens. We have a stable family life.

The formation team will also interview your wife. If she is not cool with your doing this, they will not let you proceed. You really need a good, stable family life. That will be one of the keys in discerning the vocation to the Diaconate.

I can only speak to what my Diocese does, but the order of importance is Family, Employment, then the Diaconate. It is understood that there are other things going on in life. You might be expected to do 12 hrs a week or so. You can pray on these considerations as you go through formation.

The priest who told you that it was a five year program had the right idea. You and your family will be older and you may be at a more advantageous time in your life to do this. If you feel this is where God is calling you, you should reach out to the Formation Office for your Diocese. Also, make sure you have some good spiritual direction. A good spiritual director can help you along this path too.

I’d advise that if this is the path the Lord wants you on, follow it until He tells you otherwise. Ask lots of questions and pray, pray, pray.

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Wife, children, works 46 hours a week, attends college full time, and travels for work 2-3 months per year –
How do you envision him doing the diaconate studies?

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To be fair my full-time college load is at a Catholic college/seminary for theology.

I appreciate it brother, that’s encouraging. I’m about to turn 29 and the process of becoming a deacon takes about 5 years in our diocese according to my priest. The first two times I totally disregarded the invitation as a lofty/unrealistic goal for myself but after a third priest put it out there yesterday I started to wonder if maybe I was being too dismissive in my considerations. I’m going to retire from my current job around age 40 with a pension and then I’ll hopefully find a job teaching but, if I can’t or that won’t pay enough to support my family, I’ll continue working in my current field which does pay pretty well and is very stable. My wife stays home with the kids and we have a super stable home life that revolves around the Church. We do Catholic homeschool, pray the rosary together daily, go to mass every chance we get, study scripture together, etc. My wife’s on board as long as the Church is cool with me doing it around my familial and work commitments but I think we’ve both been under the impression that it’s a full-time job that will necessarily eat into those things. I’m starting to think that’s not the case.

It also took me several prodding’s before I finally said Yes. It was always a “No way they would want me as a Deacon” until after much prayer He told me what He wanted from me. The process hasn’t been easy.
I had been away from academics for a long time, so some of the work is a bit difficult. With the support of my family and my Parish, I have been able to remain at peace. You never know how the journey will end but it has been a great walk with Jesus so far.

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I was ordained at 50 with 4 children in middle and high school, an active law practice requiring 60 - 70 hours per week, while serving as the president of the neighborhood civic association, on the board of the YMCA, and area coordinator of the local order of Malta. You make time for your priorities.

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How has it been?

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers has been and is a strong proponent for young deacons. While he travels across the US (as part of his ministry), he manages, and sees younger deacons as an important part of the Church and of evangelization,

Actually, no. The deacon’s boss is not the parish priest; it is the bishop. A deacon may be assigned to a parish, or may be assigned to other Church work; and while in a parish, he answers first and foremost to the bishop. If the bishop wants the deacon to take on an assignment, the pastor is not going to overrule that.

The biggest issue for a young deacon may not be the wife, or the children, or the work load; it may be the bishop. It appears that not all bishops are on board with having young deacons, and as the bishop is the one who ultimately calls the individual forward for ordination (just as he does for priests), if he is not on board with the idea of a young deacon, odds are it ainta gonna happen in that diocese.

Obviously after he finishes college.

The minimum age for the permanent deacon ordination is 35 years of age and the diocese can decide that the formation process start at for example 30 years or older depending upon the needs of the diocese and the candidate.

I know people who juggle a lot more responsibilities than that and still manage to make it work. I’m not saying it would be easy (or even a good idea), only that it would be possible.

Yes, you’re correct. Though in my experience, the bishop tends to give broad guidance (e.g. you’re going to work in this parish), and the pastor determines what that work will actually entail. So the one determining the actual workload of the deacons was the pastor, not the bishop.

Obviously each bishop is different, and a bishop could conceivably micromanage his deacons if he wanted to. I just haven’t seen that happen much in practice.

Also, with these things there tends to be some room for negotiation on the part of the deacon. The deacon can always choose to step down. We had a case a number of years ago where a new pastor came in, heaped a ton of new responsibilities on our deacon, and deacon said, “I can’t handle all this. I’m retiring.” The deacon stayed in the parish. We still saw him at Mass every week. He just wasn’t a deacon anymore.

Obviously that’s a last resort, and certainly not something you would want or plan to do, but it is possible. Depending on the diocese, if you walk away too early, you may owe them a certain amount of money to cover your seminary tuition or other expenses, so they would probably have a little more leverage over you in the early years, but even then, remember these are people we’re talking about. The pastor (or even the bishop) is not some voice in the clouds. You can talk to him. You can tell him what’s going on in your life. His goal is for you to have a successful and fruitful ministry, not to burn you out.

I think you mean he was a retired deacon. Once ordained… I have run into a priest I know at Mass; he is retired, and while he could have (if invited) concelebrated, he was fine sitting in the pew.

And he does concelebrate; a member of our parish died and he returned to concelebrate the funeral.

In my last parish, we had a deacon who was retired from his career as an engineer, and he had several ministries in the parish. At one point the archbishop had him working with the people in training for the deaconate. And Harold Burke Seivers is a nationally active deacon; as the role of a deacon is service and evangelization, often all that we see is the deacon active in the parish. I am sure any wise bishop will be willing to tap into any particular strengths one has.

Plenty of permanent deacons are married with children. My own father is one

Well, if the OP is 28, his children are pretty young, and there may be plenty more on the way. I think he should ask his wife before he asks us! : )
I read your description of your family life which sounds idyllic, but it will get more complicated once there are a mix of younger kids / teens, especially if there’s an infant in the mix here and there. : )

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