Deacons and their children


#1

For a while now I have felt an unexplained calling to become more involved in the Church and our parish. I recently discovered a book on Deacons and I wanted to ask a question here before getting my hopes up.

I am married with two small children. I have read as much as possible about requirements and restrictions but I haven't read anything about children. Are there any age restrictions, for example, on children of prospective deacons?

For the record, I'm in no rush and I understand that the process is many years long.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!


#2

Since being a deacon means that you also have to invest (a lot of) time in the Church it is required that both of your children can take care of themselfs. This is usually 18+, but if they are going to college and you are paying for it, you can see that they aren’t sustaining themselfs. So, I’d say when both of your children have finished college and are working.

You yourself can only be ordained a married deacon if you are at least 35 years of age (at the time of ordination) and if your wife agrees. Your wife is also required to take several classes to prepare her for your new task.

I wish you a lot of luck and guidance. :wink:


#3

In most dioceses it takes about 3 years to train a deacon, depending on his previous education, life experience, maturity etc.

There is no specific rule about ages of a deacon's children. Of course the Church doesn't want to deprive children of their material needs or their need for their father's personal attention and involvement.

In many dioceses deacons are allowed to continue working at least part-time in a secular job and are only required for Church duties 2 or 3 days a week.

When the permanent diaconate was restored to the Latin-rite Church after Vatican II (interestingly the Council of Trent had called for this but for some reason it never happened) it was envisaged that most permanent deacons would be in their 30s or 40s. As it has turned out most of them are older and have retired from their secular jobs and their families have grown, but I'm sure the Church would like to see more younger deacons.


#4

I personally waited until my children were out of the house before I applied to the diaconate. Being busy with my job, family and my work in Church ministry was already a stretch for my time.

But this was a personal discernment made between me and my spiritual director at the time.


#5

I don't believe there is any such restriction of your children being 18+ or able to take care of themselves. Are you sure you are not thinking of rules for a widower to become a priest? There is a huge difference. While priestly formation requires full-time schooling and seminary, the diaconate (At least in my diocese) involves taking classes for one weekend per month, and doing the work from home in between.

One of the deacons in our parish has children that are about 19 and 17, and he just celebrated his 10 year jubilee.

In Christ,
Frank


#6

Thank you all for your replies.

In all honesty I imagine myself finishing off a bit more formal education before entering the deaconate program. Here the program is approximately five years which would mean that my children would be about 17 & 13 at the time.

I certainly can understand the Church’s desire to have deacons that are not all retired. Personally I wish we had a permanent deacon in our parish. I would be especially appreciative of having someone to talk to that would represent a bridge between ordained ministers and laity.


#7

[quote="Cominghome89, post:5, topic:198198"]
I don't believe there is any such restriction of your children being 18+ or able to take care of themselves. Are you sure you are not thinking of rules for a widower to become a priest? There is a huge difference. While priestly formation requires full-time schooling and seminary, the diaconate (At least in my diocese) involves taking classes for one weekend per month, and doing the work from home in between.

One of the deacons in our parish has children that are about 19 and 17, and he just celebrated his 10 year jubilee.

In Christ,
Frank

[/quote]

I think having "younger" deacons would be great. Our diocese won't accept as aspirants into the diaconate formation program anyone with children basically younger than high school. One deacon I know had to go through hoops to get accepted because his youngest was 8th grade. Other places are different. From people I've talked to, I have the idea that the Midwest and West tend to skew younger with deacons; the Northeast, older.


#8

Jason:

Dioceses are all over the map when it comes to the age of children, and whether they accept candidates with young children.

Might I suggest that you speak to the Director of the Diaconate in your own diocese – it doesn’t matter what other places are doing, it only matters what the guidelines are in your own diocese.

We have over 200 deacons here in my archdiocese; many of them had young children during formation, others had older or grown children. There are pros and cons for both young children and for older children.

I would advise you get more involved in parish life - generally acceptance into a program of formation presupposes men who are already quite active in their own parishes, and have been so for some period of time.

God bless,


#9

[quote="Diaconia, post:8, topic:198198"]
I would advise you get more involved in parish life - generally acceptance into a program of formation presupposes men who are already quite active in their own parishes, and have been so for some period of time.

[/quote]

This is exactly what I've been doing. We are part of a couples group and I'm involved in a men's prayer group. I'm also registered in a catechism diploma and was told by the parish priest that he would involve me with the catechism classes next year.

These are all small steps in becoming a better Catholic and learning how to serve our community.


#10

UPDATE
I've just come home from a retreat at our local seminary and I was talking to one of the formation priests about the possibility of becoming a deacon.

It turns out that our archdiocese does not have a deacon program in place making it impossible to become a deacon in this area. I was surprised to hear this news given that deacons reinstalled in the Church almost 50 years ago. He also mentioned that our current bishop has been here for the past 11 years and he would be surprised if the bishop were to make a change any time soon.

His advice is to ask for a meeting with our bishop to ask about future plans for permanent deacons in our archdiocese. Apparently he is a very approachable man who gladly listens to any, and all visitors.

Does anyone have any advice on how I should proceed or on what message, or approach, I should take in the meeting.

Thank you in advance!


#11

Our kids were 15, 13 and 10 when my husband was ordained. I know men whose kids were younger. We had one man ordained a few years ago who had an infant and several men who had children after they were ordained. Family comes first so the deacon has to work things out with the pastor as to duties that my interfere with children’s needs.


#12

My feeling is that there should be a level of trust between the parish and the deacon that he is going to manage his time between his family and the Church (with the family getting priority).

It seems a little odd that someone else would dictate to me my level of commitment to either based on the ages of my children.


#13

Our diocese was also slow to ordain permanent deacons(first class ordained in Jan 03). Before meeting the bishop, I would get my facts together about how deacons are serving in other dioceses and the impact they have made. Find the closest diocese to you with permanent deacons and if their program is a good one-contact the deacon director of that diocese for all the info you will need to approach your bishop.

Good luck.


#14

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