Diaconate Formation / Foreign Missions Question


Hello Friends,
I pose this inquiry to Catholic Deacons who may read this forum. I bit of background of myself 1st. I am a lifelong Catholic. 47 years of age. Live in Long Island NY. Widower 5 years ago, remarried this past summer.
My faith has grown by leaps and bounds the past few years. Prior to that I was what one would call a casual observer. My wife has been a partner and great supporter of this deep devotion to Christ and His Church. Most of my time (I’m a retired NYC police officer since 2008), is devoted to theology, studying the gospels, lives of early desert fathers, history of the Church and especially books by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I am seriously considering entering the Diaconate. Being through many different phases of life and the experiences that go with it, I feel I can truly devote my time, energies, patience, and faith, to serving the Lord and His Church in whatever way He see’s fit. My wife is from the Fiji islands which was and still is served by many European priests who went there during the colonial period. Her Parish priest there was from Ireland. I also would very much like to go to area’s across the globe in need, those experiencing persecution of Christian’s. I feel my relative youth (yes 47 is still young LOL), can be of service to the more remote area’s like many parts of Fiji still are. So whether my calling is to the Diaconate here at home or some sort of assistance to foreign missionaries, it’s my yearning to serve in either capacity. Helping those poorest of the poor is my deepest passion.
I have an associate’s degree and am a bit confused as to the education requirements for the Diaconate. My understanding is that the seminary courses are at the masters level but a prior bachelor’s degree is not exactly necessary. Of course I do know many of the Deacon’s and Priest’s at my church but wanted to get some advise from other Deacon’s as well.



If you live in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, here is a webpage with some info: rvcdeacons.org/

If you live in the Diocese of Brooklyn, here is a webpage: dioceseofbrooklyn.org/vocations/the-diaconate/

Each diocese is different. For example, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, candidates for the Deaconate spend 7 years studying at the Seminary. For the Diocese of Brooklyn, it’s 1 year of Aspirancy and 4 years of Candidacy (5 years total). Some dioceses without seminaries do their training in Churches or diocese offices, while some are even using Catholic Distance University.

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s website says the following regarding qualifications for being accepted to Aspirancy:

  1. Educational Background: All inquirers must be high school graduates or have earned the appropriate equivalent (either in the United States or their native country). Some college background is also preferred.


I’m not quite sure what it is exactly you are asking. If it is with respect to educational requriements, you need to check with your diocese, each is different. Here, a college degree is required.

If it is with respect to the difficulty of the course work, yes, it is challenging, and I have a doctorate.

If it is with respect to assignments, you serve at the pleasure of your bishop and I think it unlikely that if you are ordained in New York, you would ever have an opportunity to serve in Fiji, or any other foreign location. If you hope to serve in foreign mission territory, I would speculate that you should seek a formation program in that location.



I fully agree that you serve at the pleasure of the bishop, but I would also say that most bishops are very willing to examine the calling of any deacon.

I was in diaconal formation myself in Detroit, for 3 out of the 5 years required. I stepped back when my wife and I were expecting our 5th child, and then our 6th. I’ll look at re-entering formation when the youngest child is 5 or 6. I have since completed almost all of the academic work ( except for Homiletics and the liturgical practica)

In the meantime, I have found regular mission work with a diocese in Tanzania.

I am also still very much in contact with our Archdiocesan moderator for the diaconal program. They have always been very open to discerning with a deacon on where they are called to serve. One of my classmates is a retired cop. He felt called to do prison work, and the bishop agreed.

Another travels extensively for work, and ministers to fellow travelers.

In my case, I have found nothing but support from the Archdiocese about continuing to do mission trips to Tanzania, and do mission preaching both in and outside of the archdiocese.

Maybe our archdiocese is unusual in that respect, only having experience in my own, but I imagine that most bishops would be willing to work with the charisms of the deacons.

If he was looking at a permanent move to Fiji, then yes, I would agree, speak to the bishop in Fiji, but mission work, even for several years at a time, would not require incarnation in Fiji, nor be a hindrance to ordination in most diocese here


Getting back to the OP about the educational aspect of diaconate candidates, our program has a mix of different types of educational backgrounds. Most of the men in my class are getting the master’s degree, but there are a handful that are getting their bachelor’s. They take the same classes but their assignments are a bit different than the master’s program. For example, while we have to submit four papers of a certain length for the course, the bachelor’s students may just have to submit three papers that are a bit shorter in length.

We even have a couple of retired guys who are just taking the classes for no credit at all because they did not want the degree!

So, they will work with you. In fact, if you have an Associates, then they will probably have you complete the bachelor’s.

God Bless!


That is not necessarily the case. It is up to each diocese to determine what educational background it will require. Up till this year, my diocese was fairly flexible, but with this next class the Bishop has made it an absolute requirement that all candidates have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

Check with your diocese


A sincere thank you to all of you for the replies. Interestingly enough, I am accompanying a Deacon from my Parrish to our sister Parrish in Guatemala this July 2015. He organized a sponsorship program where myself and other parishioners send about $150 a year which facilitates a child to go to the Church school there. Now here is why this particular program has proved so very successful in the 20+ years since he started it. The money does not go to the child or the school, but goes to the parents. The parents are explained to that this money is to directly supplement the income they would have gained if the child were working in the fields. If they break the pledge and the child misses school for any extended period, barring illness of course, they are out of the program. It’s a win-win for both the parents and the child, who gets a proper education and a chance to finally break the cycle of child labor, no education, and generational poverty.
So I will have 10 days down there to pick his brain and get a small taste of doing missionary work amongst the poorest of the poor.


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