Deaconate vs Employment


#1

I was wondering if anyone knew or heard of a commercial airline pilot that was also a Deacon. I am considering the permanent Deaconate and do not know if it will be possible to do so due to the high time envolved with not just the years of study but also once ordained the time given to the parish assigned. The study time is no problem just the irregularity of schedule is the conflict, whereas I may not be able to make each class and/or be there each Sunday. The more senior I become at work, the more control I have over the schedule. This might be something I can do in 10 years with not much problem but I would like to get started much sooner.
I greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks in advance.
Andy


#2

I would seek out a Spiritual Director first and a Vocations Director second. One does not "choose" their vocation, God chooses it. I was pursuing the Priesthood avidly for a long time now. But then I met my girlfriend. God has shown me my vocation is to marriage, no matter how strongly I felt about the Priesthood, or how strongly others felt my calling was. Leave it up to God. The Deaconate is not something you do "on the side". It is a vocation. You would be an ordained member of the clergy. Yes you would still likely be required to work separate. But you would be a clergy and man of God first, whatever job you pursue second. I wouldn't advise getting into that line of work. Your focus should be on serving God as a Deacon as often and fully as you can, and finding work that works around your schedule as a Deacon. If you think of it the other way around I can pretty confidently say that you probably don't have a calling to Holy Orders.


#3

The permanent deacons I know are all employed (one runs a retreat center, the others have more secular jobs). If you strongly feel a call, pray and perhaps God will open your heart to a different career that would keep you closer to your diocese!

I have a question for SaintPatrick333 or anyone who wants to answer: would being a deacon really be his primary vocation? As a husband, I would think marriage would be. In fact, the wives of those pursuing the deaconate in my diocese must give full support and can rescind it at any time in the formation process. I'm pretty sure husband and father would be first. :shrug:


#4

This post is not just for the OP, some comments are responding to saintpatrick333.

I would say YES to the spiritual director and start first of all with your pastor. That takes into consideration you have already discussed this thought thoroughly with your wife and she is in full agreement to discern this vocation. God does choose our vocation, yes, but we choose to pursue or not. Both the person and the Church will discern God’s call.

You are right that the diaconate is not something one “does on the side”. It is a full time vocation, ministry is not, and family is first. That means the wife, kids, home, finances, everything must be held in its proper priority or ministry and family life will falter. What is true is that once formation starts you and your wife and family will change, your life will be transformed or you will leave formation; this I can assure you. But once ordained you will be an ordained deacon, a member of the clergy, in everything you participate in; home, work, grocery store, mall, parking lot, and etc. You will be a husband first but one who is a deacon, a father first but one who is a deacon, an airline pilot but one who is a deacon (This will be the toughest challenge.)

As far as the job being second, this is not quite true. First off my class had an offshore oil field worker, an attorney, crane operator, surveying engineer, entrepreneur, and I am a supervisor for a large utility company. No one was ever nudged to change careers or retire. Your career feeds and houses your family so this is your first responsibility. Your first vocation is your marriage. But just remember you are a deacon after ordination in ALL walks of life. The hard part is remembering what order the actual activities go in; my wife is the first person I ask if I am requested to do any type of ministry. If she says no or even frowns on it, I say no. It must be this way, a divorced deacon will not operate as a deacon; he will be removed from ministry.

Many formation programs are shaped with the working people in mind, night and weekend classes. But a pilots schedule could cause some unique issues. Check with you diocese and they can lead you to the director of deacons for your diocese who can give you the answers you need as far as the logistics of formation.

What is important to think about is, the permanent diaconate requires a man be at least 35 to be ordained; he can be married or single. By this time in life the man has an established career normally. The diaconate is not going to make you leave that career. The only issue is the logistics of making the training requirements with the schedule of a pilot or any job for that matter.

I personally would love to fly knowing the pilot is a deacon. Now if we can only figure out how to get a priest a job on the same plane we can have Mass at 30,000 feet!!!

PS. I can assure you this, it will not be easy and you will have many days that you say to yourself its time to drop out; however, if you see it through to the end and God is truly calling you there will be no regrets. I have no regrets only thanksgiving for God making my life at home, work and everywhere more fulfilling. Peace and all good to you!


#5

Speak to the vocations director responsible for the permanent diaconate in your diocese.

I suspect that they will tell you that your responsibilities in your job will get in the way of the training and that it probably can't be customised just for you which will prevent you from taking up this vocation at this time in your life, but it would be good to make that connection with them so that they can keep in touch with you and help you with the practical and spiritual resources you'll need while your secular life catches up with your vocational desires.

It's never too soon to talk to someone.


#6

If you feel a Call from the Lord you are duty bound to follow it and discern it.
You will learn form the experience.

I am also discerning a call to the Diaconate. At the moment I have a very young family, and they will need to be older before I start the formal preparation and selection process. but I have direction in how to prepare until then.

  1. know the calling of the Deacon.
    To serve others in Charity & Love.
    To teach the Word of God Boldly.
    To serve the priest in the service of the Altar
    (both of these belong to all the baptised, not just to the Deacon. He, however has a extra special ordination to “be Christ to others” in these ways).

As a lay person the service of the altar can take the form of any of the ministries which is appropriate to the Lay Person at Mass and outside Mass…
The service of charity and love may be expressed by finding an appropriate charitable outreach to be involved in (e.g. voulinteer at the local Homeless shelter / soup kitchen / SVP chapter etc.)
Teaching the Word can be expressed by joining the bible study group, catechesis class (for adults or children), apologetics group or similar. As and when you have the necessary knowledge and opportunity, you could join the leadership of an existing group or start one if the presence of a suitable group is lacking.

  1. Get your personal and family life free of slavery to debt and (as far as possible) to Sin.

  2. Advance your career to where you can have the freedom to work in a manner that gives you the predictable free time to undertake the training and formal ministry of a Deacon. (or possibly change careers to something that gives you that free time, or expresses the call to teach and serve that is the Deacons calling)

Note: These are Ideas. not rules.
If you don’t have the time for all these ministries in your life at the moment, then your life is not at a stage where you could undertake the training for the Diaconate, so your goal should be to get your life to where these things are not only possible, but your new “Normal” or “Baseline.”

I’m not trying to be preachy here. I’m expressing what I am learning from a very similar struggle in my own life.
I, at times, find myself working up to 70 hours per week for months at a time (and don’t get paid extra for it)

My debts leave my wife needing to work weekends, including Sundays to make ends meet (while I take over looking after the Kids)

My job is one which while knot incompatible with the faith, offers little tangible opportunity to promote the Faith, or promote the Common Good. - (But neither did being a carpenter untill his 30’s… so if working in a secular job was good enough for Jesus himself…)

Some Deacons are employed in direct faith based or charitable jobs. but many work in factories, building sites, offices hospitals, schools etc. doing normal every day jobs. - I yearn for a “Full time Ministry” but lack the direction for something specific. The realisation of the lesson Jesus teaches us from the “Silent Years” about the dignity and value of normal work was a very valuable lesson to me.
I work in an office some days and on building sites on others. I do get to help builders and architects build better homes, and advise them on getting the Sound Insulation and noise polution emissions of buildings right. (I’m a noise control specialist).

This year I get to do a huge Pro-Bono job for a big Catholic Festival (a national Charismatic Catholic conference) to a) help them not annoy the neighbours, and b) have better sound for the attendants. If they were paying for the service it would be about £15,k ($24k).

I am also a member of a lay ecclesial community, and we support each-other as catholic families, and I have lots of opportunity to help teach the faith and Catechism, and to carry out evengelical outreaches.
For now the focus of my “ministry” lies within that group. - but this past 6 months my personal and family life have been so hectic I’ve mostly spoken with the others online only. and not been very active in-group.

I would love to work in a more charitable job. but I am where the Lord has planted me. I can push my career to where I have more predictable time available for both my family and any other ministry the lord calls me to.
I can work to be Debt Free in a sensible time scale. I must learn to stay that way, and not borrow to buy the latest nice material things for me and my family. (that’s a hard one for me)
Opportunities are there for me to develop my career to be more 9-5.30, office based and fewer and more predictible out of hours calls. They require me to be more disciplined and persevering.

If I am called to the Diaconate (And I believe I am) it is most likely that I won’t be permitted to start training until my youngest child has started school (general policy in most UK Dioceses. Untill we have a new bishop in this one I dont know what this dioceses policy will be our last bishop didn’t like Diaconal candidates to have dependant children,and made an exception for some who’s kids where in High school when they applied).
Hopefully my youngest child is not yet conceived. (our current youngest is under 1, and we plan on another in around 2 years time. Our options remain open after that.)
If we have a child in about 2 years time, and he or she starts school at 4 years old, that’s 6 years from now before I would be considered eligible to apply for selection. Therefore 11 years between now and earliest possible Ordination.
Of course it’s very possible the Lord wont send us any more children, in which case my current youngest will probably start school in Sept 2016. and if we don’t have another child by then I’ll probably take that as a sign to apply then.

I hope My thoughts, experiences and plans in this area give you food for thought.
I will pray for you, and your discernment process.
I also ask for you to pray for my family, and me.


#7

Wow! Thank you all so much for the responses. I hope they keep coming because they have helped me tremendously and should help someone else with an irregular occupation.
I have yet to talk to a spiritual director, just our current deacon in passing. Then I'll talk to the vocations director. I have the age requirement met, three kids with youngest age 7, and most importantly my wife's support.
Anyway, the suggestions, comments and related experiences are great and I really appreciate then all.
God Bless,
Andy


#8

[quote="govav8er, post:7, topic:311519"]
Wow! Thank you all so much for the responses. I hope they keep coming because they have helped me tremendously and should help someone else with an irregular occupation.
I have yet to talk to a spiritual director, just our current deacon in passing. Then I'll talk to the vocations director. I have the age requirement met, three kids with youngest age 7, and most importantly my wife's support.
Anyway, the suggestions, comments and related experiences are great and I really appreciate then all.
God Bless,
Andy

[/quote]

The age issue and the support of your wife are Mandatory issues in Cannon Law.
Dependency and Age of children is a local policy issue.

If outside the USA Do double check the local bishops requirements re: Perpetual Continence. Outside the USA there is no publicly available policy document that draws a solid line under that issue, and some bishops require it while othes dont. YOu and your wife need to know what you're sining up for.


#9

[quote="govav8er, post:1, topic:311519"]
I was wondering if anyone knew or heard of a commercial airline pilot that was also a Deacon. I am considering the permanent Deaconate and do not know if it will be possible to do so due to the high time envolved with not just the years of study but also once ordained the time given to the parish assigned. The study time is no problem just the irregularity of schedule is the conflict, whereas I may not be able to make each class and/or be there each Sunday. The more senior I become at work, the more control I have over the schedule. This might be something I can do in 10 years with not much problem but I would like to get started much sooner.
I greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks in advance.
Andy

[/quote]


#10

[quote="St_Hilary, post:9, topic:311519"]

[/quote]

Once you are ordained a permanent deacon it is understood that you still have a job because the parish will not compensate you.

So if you decide to go,, classwes are usuall one weekend per month and during the month you can study and work.

God bless you.


#11

[quote="St_Hilary, post:10, topic:311519"]
Once you are ordained a permanent deacon it is understood that you still have a job because the parish will not compensate you.

So if you decide to go,, classwes are usuall one weekend per month and during the month you can study and work.

God bless you.

[/quote]

Class schedules vary by diocese. Our diaconate formation classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights for 3 hours per night, for 9 months of the year, for 4 years. Another reason to talk with your diocese.


#12

Our classes are broken down into Fall & Summer semesters, 11 weeks each. We attend every Saturday for those 11 weeks from 7:30 am until 5:30 pm for 4 years. We take 2 classes each day we are there.

Also note there is significant time spent studying and writing papers outside of class. Preparation for presentations also takes a significant amount of time. This is a Masters program in our diocese, and it is not simply attending, listening, and being ordained.

The time spent on the schoolwork outside of the classroom significantly impacts your home life, as well. The whole family needs to be on board with this for it to work.


#13

And yes, we all have "other" jobs.

We were told in no uncertain terms, the priority is - Family, Job, Diaconate Program.


#14

[quote="govav8er, post:1, topic:311519"]
I was wondering if anyone knew or heard of a commercial airline pilot that was also a Deacon. I am considering the permanent Deaconate and do not know if it will be possible to do so due to the high time envolved with not just the years of study but also once ordained the time given to the parish assigned. The study time is no problem just the irregularity of schedule is the conflict, whereas I may not be able to make each class and/or be there each Sunday. The more senior I become at work, the more control I have over the schedule. This might be something I can do in 10 years with not much problem but I would like to get started much sooner.
I greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks in advance.
Andy

[/quote]


#15

[quote="St_Hilary, post:14, topic:311519"]

[/quote]

You can have any job and become a deacon. As youi knosw the pwermanent deacon does not preach the homiily every Sunday.

Also, you need a job because permanent deacons are not compensated.

Be at peace

In His Divine Mercy


#16

[quote="St_Hilary, post:15, topic:311519"]
You can have any job and become a deacon. As youi knosw the pwermanent deacon does not preach the homiily every Sunday.

Also, you need a job because permanent deacons are not compensated.

Be at peace

In His Divine Mercy

[/quote]

Availability to assist at mass every Sunday is not a deciding factor for discernment of a vocation to the Diaconate.

For a Deacon the Ministry of the Altar is almost secondary to his primary ministries of Charity and Teaching.
The ministry of the Altar expresses his ministry of service (in performing the role of the Acolite) while also being an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and specifically being the Minister of the Precious Blood. (note he is not a minister of the Eucharist that is the Priest (including the Bishop who is also a Priest). And in his ministry as Teacher, by Proclaiming the Gospel, and (when requested by the priest) by preaching the Homily.

These services are a sacramental expression of those greater ministries, which attain their fulfilment in the world beyond the chapel doors. working for charities.bringing the Eucharist to (and visiting) the Sick and Housebound. the Prisoners and others. teaching catechism classes. helping couples prepare for marriage. Helping parents prepare for Baptism. Helping at bible study classes...

These (as I see it) are the day to day job of the Deacon. In terms of time commitment they outweigh his responsibilities at mass on a Sunday by a Huge amount.

Now don't get me wrong He does have a Ministry of the Altar, which also includes Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals. This sacramental ministry is a vital part of his overall calling, and what sets him apart for a Lay minister who is committed to fulfilling his baptismal responsibilities of Charity and Evangelisation.

Also: Not "Any Job" is suited to a Deacon. A deacon could not work in a job which would cause scandal or be morally incompatible with his vocations as a Deacon. (e.g. working in an abortion clinic - even in an ancillary position)

(Please note: theologically speaking I have indulged in a little "Rabbinical hyperbole" above. From a theological perspective the ministry of the altar is of equal importance in the calling of the Deacon to his ministries of service and teaching. However I stand by my comment that from a time commitment perspective they are most likely to be a much smaller portion of his schedule.


#17

One of my classmates in our diaconate formation program was a commercial pilot for UPS. It was not a problem - he was able to make all of the classes and do the work involved. Shortly after our ordination in 2008, he was transferred to the Alaska route. He received permission from the archbishop to serve in Alaska while assigned there. He has since returned to our community and is back in his home parish again.

My advise to you is to tell everything to your deacon director, spiritual director, etc. Be honest with them and trust in the process. If you are truly called to this ministry, then your job will not be a burden or a hindrance, it will be a blessing.


#18

[quote="govav8er, post:1, topic:311519"]
I was wondering if anyone knew or heard of a commercial airline pilot that was also a Deacon. I am considering the permanent Deaconate and do not know if it will be possible to do so due to the high time envolved with not just the years of study but also once ordained the time given to the parish assigned. The study time is no problem just the irregularity of schedule is the conflict, whereas I may not be able to make each class and/or be there each Sunday. The more senior I become at work, the more control I have over the schedule. This might be something I can do in 10 years with not much problem but I would like to get started much sooner.
I greatly appreciate any thoughts or suggestions. Thanks in advance.
Andy

[/quote]

One of my professors was a Naval Officer while in formation for the diaconate. After he was ordained, so he functioned as an officer and a deacon. The deacon at my parish is a dentist.


#19

[quote="St_Hilary, post:10, topic:311519"]
Once you are ordained a permanent deacon it is understood that you still have a job because the parish will not compensate you.

So if you decide to go,, classwes are usuall one weekend per month and during the month you can study and work.

God bless you.

[/quote]

Our class met one weekend a month; Friday night and all day Saturday. We were only allowed to take one class per semester so it was a four year program. One of the guys in the class decided his vocation was to the priesthood. He will be ordained a priest in June:).


#20

Excellent! Thank you all again!


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