Deacons: Age and Profession

I have a few questions about deacons and the diaconate.

  1. From what I have read on this website and elsewhere, most deacons’ children are fully grown by the time they are ordained. I would be curious to hear anecdotal evidence to this, or to the opposite, effect. Is it common – or if not common, then at least not unheard of – for a diocese to accept diaconal candidates whose children are very young? Or is there a definite sense for most dioceses that the diaconate is a “middle-aged” vocation?

  2. Another question is in regards to deacons’ professions. I know that deacons can work in a number of professions, but are there some professions that might dissuade a diocese from admitting candidates into their programs? I am most interested in the case of a theology professor – as someone who teaches in an academic, and potentially secular, setting, is there a conflict of interests, or would such a professor be unlikely to be allowed to be ordained? Or is the intensity of a person’s professional workload (let’s say, someone who works more than 40 hours/week) seen as a detriment to being accepted into a diaconate program?

Sorry if these questions are arcane or confusing…
Thanks very much for any help!

You can find the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States at the following link:

This directory will answer your questions as to the national norms. However, each diocese handles things a little differently. There are formation programs that will not accept anyone with children younger than high school age. There are other programs where they will take a more subjective approach and assess each candidate’s situation.

If you are interested in the diaconate I encourage you to contact the Director of Diaconate Formation for your diocese and ask him how they approach your concerns.

I’m in my fifth and final year of formation and look forward to being ordained a Permanent Deacon on April 9, 2011. We have 18 men in our class and several have very young children at home. We also have men who are grandfathers. As to professions I don’t see that being a theology professor would in any way be an issue.

Workload can be an issue. We are going to be asked to committ two to eight hours a week to ministry once ordained. I work 40 hours a week. I think I can manage that committment. However, one of the things that you must be able to do is maintain balance in your life between church, family, and work. You have to know when to say “no”.

God Bless you in your discerment! :thumbsup:

In my class, just off the top of my head, there is one guy who teaches moral theology on a high school level in a parochial school, several teachers, 1 college professor, several retired military, a retired social worker, an assiatant principal, a travel agent and a lawyer.

The deacon at my parish is a dentist.

not necessarily, at least two of our recently ordained deacons (out of 23) have school age children, one child is 3.

deacons almost always have a “day job” which is necessary to support their family, unless they happen to be employed in a paid position with a diocese, parish or Catholic institution. Two of our new deacons already fit that description.

there is no career I can think of that would bar a deacon unless it was directly inimical to Catholic teaching (abortion provider for an extreme example).

Thanks for your replies, everyone! They’ve been very helpful. :o)

I’m an Engineer whose 44.

I was in the Diaconate program with 4 young kids. I did step back when #5 (and now #6) came along.

The answer you seek is with your diocese. There are several men along with me seeking the diaconate. Our class includes professors, medical doctors, teachers, retired, engineers, etc. I’m changing careers to allow more time off for family and vocation later on. Switched from engineer to graduate student for teaching later on. My youngest is 5. The next formation is supposed to start within the next 3 years. Hopefully I’ll be one of them. Assuming I’m selected and ordained, my youngest would be 13. Four years ago I was advised to wait until my children grew up a little more.

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