Diaconate Inquiry Admissions Process


#1

I started the application process a few weeks ago, and part of that was filling out the application and sending in a check. The deadline was just a few days after the information night, so I sensed that this was considered urgent to get in and the process would start moving along quickly. Boy, I am mistaken I guess.

The check has yet to be deposited. I called the diaconate office as we were looking to change out checking account to an interest bearing one, but in order to do that, I need to close the one I wrote the check on. I was told by the diaconate office that they are reviewing all the applications before sending down the checks to the diocese. That makes sense as why deposit the check if a person has something that might prevent them from going any further. I can live with that.

What I seem to be seeing though is the diaconate office, either intentionally or unintentionally are testing our patience (that has always been a tough one for me and I always seem to have to confess impatience in the confessional). I know that no matter what they ask us to do or when they ask us to do it, the selection date of those who are accepted into aspirancy will not come any quicker.

Anyhow, is this typical for most diocese around the country? I know there is a lot of work that needs to be done between now and the decision time, and part of me just wants to start on it and get it out of the way. I am slightly worried they will ask us to do a large amount of work in a very small amount of time to test us. I also have heard that one of the “unofficial” motto’s of the diaconate program is to just be flexible. I get that, and that has actually been one of my Lenten observances.

Anyhow, I just wanted to get this off my chest, and I actually feel better now that I did. I think the moral of the story is just be patient, trust in God as He will never do anything to hurt us, and enjoy the journey. If bye the Grace of God I do make it into the Aspirancy and then into formation, I’m sure it will be a very long, hard, but rewarding process, so I should just sit back and watch our Father do what He does in this discernment process.

God bless all,

John


#2

John, I’m in a similar situation. For me it’s been in fits and starts. Rush to get letters of recommendation, school transcripts, setup psychological testing… then wait. We have 6 weeks between the application deadline that just passed and the beginning of personal interviews. After that it’s another 2 months before the aspirancy class is selected. As it stands I won’t know if I am selected until August, just four or five weeks before formation would begin.

I just keep telling myself that I have waited 4 or 5 years to make the decision to apply so giving the Church 6 months to decide isn’t unreasonable. I am trying to focus on shoring up some of the spiritual blinds spots I discovered while writing my entrance essay. At worse I spend the next 6 months coming closer to Christ and not being selected.

All that being said I wish I knew right now. :rolleyes:

I’ll keep you and all others in our situation in my prayers.


#3

So did they have you get all the letters, transcripts, etc all at one time, or did they do them over a nice period where you could concentrate on them and not just rush to get them done.

From what I understand, in my dioceses, we do the psychological testing after we are in the aspirancy program.


#4

This is what was due last week in my Diocean program.
• 12 page application
• 2 page wife’s testimonal
• 4-6 page application essay
• 2 letters of recommendation from those you’ve worked with in ministry
• Official copies of transcripts from all college and universities attended directly to formation committee
• Copy of baptismal or profession of faith cert with notations (*)
• Release form for psychological evaluation
• Psychological evaluation scheduled ($450 paid by applicant)
• Letter from doctor stating you are physically fit for ministerial duties
• 2 passport photos of applicant and wife

For me I also had to send copies of my civil marriage certificate and a copy of my wife’s baptismal records since we were married before either of us converted and that was not captured in either of our sacramental records.

Before I could get the application packet I also had to send a letter of request along with a letter from my wife saying she supported me even applying to the program. This was in addition to needing a seperate letter from my pastor recommending me for application.

In total I believe I had about 4 weeks from the information night until everything was due. The psychological evaluation is supposed to be completed before interviews begin and the evaluation report belongs to the diocese. I can only get a verbal report. To get the full written report requires the bishop or head of formation to release it.

Sounds like a ton to do even before you get to know if you are accepted, but the head of formation wants to make sure that they winnow out issues early on so that they can be resolved before selection is completed. The next class will only have 20 men and we only have a class once every 4 years. Ours was the 3rd information night and there were between 18 and 25 couples there. If they had a similar response in other parts of the diocese we might have upwards of 60 applicants for 20 spots even if only 60% ultimately applied.

Given that I can see why he wants to get as much of the paperwork stuff out of the way early. It might also be a way to seperate those that are curious from those that feel they are truly called and see these as minor obstacles.

Your program may be different. Ours is ran by a theologian with a STD so he thinks very much in terms of a master’s degree program. He even says that if you cannot handle that accademic workload the program will be a struggle.


#5

Interesting… I guess ours is paced a little easier. We only have one information night, and I believe in the group that is in the aspirancy program now, there are 7. We have a new aspirancy group each year though.

Here is how the workload was laid out for us. I believe this is in the order that we will be asked to do these

] Completed Application & fee
] Accepted by Admissions Team
] Fingerprinting & Background
] Required Documents (including photos of applicant & spouse (if married), birth certificate, academic transcripts, sacramental records, basic health information)
] Personal biography and reflection information
] If married, consent statement from the applicant’s wife and her biographical information
] Pastor’s recommendation
] Letter(s) of reference
] Signed consent form for needed psychological screening
] Work references
] Interviews of applicant, wife, children living at home by members of Admissions team
] Recommendation by Director, Admissions Team to Bishop for acceptance into Aspirancy
] Acceptance by Bishop into Aspirancy

Our application was 6 pages and seemed to go on forever, and at times it seemed really personal, but I understand why they ask all these questions.

I have someone I know who is in the aspirancy year currently, and the scholastic work sounds challenging, but too difficult. They come right out and tell us that it is taught at the undergraduate college level. I have a masters degree, so I am not too concerned, but I think the biggest obstacle for anyone is making sure you keep up with the reading and work assigned. I know from my masters days, the biggest challenge for me was getting behind in the work and then having to work twice as hard to get current.

I also think the Diaconate formation will be a lot different that my masters program in that for my MBA, the motto of the professors was to treat us and expect us to act like in the real world… meaning, when your opponent is down, “kick 'em”. This isn’t a view that I share, but we were actually given points for ripping a fellow classmates work apart in a presentation if they made a mistake and we were expected to hold them accountable for it. I have never, now would ever work for an organization that had those belief’s. I had a serious issue with this and sat down with the dean of the program to discuss it. His basic premise was that I may have to deal with that in some employment situation in my life, so now is the time to develop the skin to deal with it. In all fairness, I used to be terrified to speak in front of groups, but after having gone through all that in the MBA, I have no issues speaking in large groups… so I guess it did help me in some ways.

Suffice it to say though, I highly doubt the diaconate will take that approach to things, and from what I have heard, the men in the program (and their wives) are all there to help each other (as are the instructors).


#6

We are imperfect creatures at our best. I applied and filled out all the paperwork, only to have it returned to me with the statement: “We are changing our application process.” To say I was a little angry is a definite understatement. But I learned to let it go (something necessary in formation).

So, when the process was changed, I reapplied. I was accepted, but still did not like the process. We are having our own issues with the continuation of the Diaconate Program here in my Archdiocese.

So please be patient with those of us who are trying to sort out the applications. I will pray for all your deacon applicants, their wives and their families.


#7

We turned in our paperwork as we got them starting with the letter of application, letter from the Pastor and the letter from my wife stating that she gives her permission to start the process.

It may be a bit stressful waiting for approval and all but it is the process you should be focused on. Begin your formation now, submit to the will of God with humility which you will need a lot of during the process. Pray, pray and then pray. If you are accepted as I pray that you will be, please try not to be focused on the goal, be open to the road that you will travel, it is not a super highway but a lazy country road full of beauty, hairpin curves at times, maybe a detour or two but a wonderful path all the same.

God bless.


#8

John, sounds like they are going after the same things, but just a different focus. Part of it might be that the director of formation is returning to St Louis at the end of the year so it’s possible he’s also trying to get everything in place to hand over to the new director. In many ways I’m glad that most of the paperwork stuff is out of the way. I wish I had more time to polish my essay, but in the end what I wrote is what I wrote.

Deacon Bill, thanks for the reminder that formation is not about the end goal, but conforming us to Christ. I’ll try to look at the view instead of focusing on the next curve on the mountian. :wink:


#9

So in other words, Pray, and when in doubt, pray some more. Sounds like a good life lesson. :slight_smile:


#10

I met with my spiritual director last night and he used to be part of the deacon formation faculty, and was recommended by the director of the program as a good person to have as a spiritual director. I have been seeing him since last year, but last night he recommended that I start to write my personal narrative or biography. He said soon enough they will be asking for this, so I might as well start on this. The only thing he told me about what I need to do is write from the heart on how I feel I got to where I am on my spiritual journey. I’m sure the Diaconate office will give more instructions than that, but may I ask what others who have gone through the application process for the aspirancy have been given as guidelines or suggestions? Was there a min and max page limit? Certain questions to ponder in your narrative, etc?

I figure I will just start the outline on the high points that I need to hit upon, and eventually just fill that all in with the details. I think it will be a good reflection and I have already uncovered some pieces that I have long forgotten that are quite interesting. Such as when I was in 6th grade at my Catholic Grade school, we had an award that I was not even aware of at the time called the Jesus Christ award. I was given to students who the teachers thought best exemplified the image of Jesus in all that they do. I was one of those recipients, and it’s something to think that my teachers, back many years ago, thought I exemplified Jesus in a way. I wonder if they would say the same thing now (I’m not sure I would want to know, but I hope that I still exhibit those outstanding qualities of our Lord).

Peace,

John


#11

Yes, the narrative gives us time to review where we are on our journey. It should prove exciting and enjoyable. They will probably want a little background on your education, your marital status, your spiritual life (books, prayer, retreats etc) and what is calling you to the Diaconate Program. They will also ask how you see the Diaconate fitting into your family life and what your (if any) children think about this process.They also want to know where you are already serving (Lector, St. Vincent dePaul, coaching ). Hope this helps frame your narrative


#12

Well, I received the paperwork over the weekend and the personal narrative is a little more than I had anticipated. Here is what they would like. Luckily, there is not a maximum page count, but in talking with the secretary of the program, she said not to go overboard either. She said some men have done this all in 3 pages (which in her opinion was not much at all) and I think she said that someone did this in 50 pages or so. Hopefully mine won’t be too long, but there is a lot in here. I’m sure the Holy Spirit will help me though all this,

Your Personal Biography and Reflection which should include all of the following:
a. A chronological description of your life (from birth to the present, which should include main events,special happenings, times of particular stress or hardship, places of residence and parishes; Education (including areas of specialization or particular interest); Military Service (including types and places of service, ranks achieved, and decorations or penalties received, your feelings about such service); a description of your Courtship and Marriage.

b. Short descriptions of your parents’ origins, life, work, marriage, and if deceased, date and causes of death. If they are living. please give their present names and addresses.

c. A reflection on your past and present relationships with: your parents and in-laws; your brothers and sisters (including their current occupations, residences, and family situations, and if married, their
spouses’ names); your wife and children- and their relationships with you; your fellow employees; your neighbors and fellow parishioners.

d. A reflection on your happiness with your present occupation; a listing of and reflection on your progression through your previous occupations and employment; what do you think will be the relationship between your present occupation and your future ministry?

e.A description of your involvement in the Church over the years and especially in the last five years; your personal and family prayer life and your practice of Catholic faith; your desire now to be a deacon and its progression in your life; your understanding of ministry; your vision and expectations of the diaconate; any special circumstances affecting your decision; your expectations of the aspirancy year and Deacon formation program; why are you seeking this ordained, permanent Order in the Church; how you see it affecting your life and the service you presently give the Church.

f. How you see the aspirancy year, formation program and a diaconal ministry affecting your life and the life of your family; a reflection on your wife’s attitude toward the diaconate, your participation in it, and her willingness to participate in the activities of the Diaconate Formation Program with you; her involvement in, and support of, your decision to apply for the diaconate; your children’s attitude
toward this.

g. Those who have helped you in this decision and given you encouragement.


#13

Goodness gracious that seems like a lot.! Are you sure they didn’t accidently send you an application for canonization instead? :slight_smile:


#14

:smiley:

John, glad you finally got your paperwork and have more guidance. I’m kinda glad much of what you have to cover was on my 12 page application. If I had to free form all of that I would have never made it in my 6 page limit. :slight_smile:


#15

Much of all of this was also on my application. Seems like overkill to me, but I am finding out that the true motto for the Diaconate is “Be Flexible”.


#16

Just an update… I had turned in everything prior to May 1, and just received notification today that I will be having three interviews with current deacons between now and the end of June. Funny how I thought I would be going nuts waiting to hear something, but I really haven’t given it much though. I’m just accepting the path that the Holy Spirit is taking my wife and I on and not stressing about it too much.

I was going to ask if any of you who have gone though this before would have any advice for the personal interviews, but I have a feeling most of you would just say “be yourself”. That’s all I know how to be, so I guess I’ll just stick with that.

Thanks all for your prayers,

John


#17

Just an update… I had turned in everything prior to May 1, and just received notification today that I will be having three interviews with current deacons between now and the end of June. Funny how I thought I would be going nuts waiting to hear something, but I really haven’t given it much though. I’m just accepting the path that the Holy Spirit is taking my wife and I on and not stressing about it too much.

I was going to ask if any of you who have gone though this before would have any advice for the personal interviews, but I have a feeling most of you would just say “be yourself”. That’s all I know how to be, so I guess I’ll just stick with that.

Thanks all for your prayers,

John


#18

Even more than “be yourself”, I would say, “be brutally honest”. Don’t try to hide the warts and blemishes; trust me we all have them.


#19

Great point Deacon Jeff, thank you for reminding me. I did that with my initial interview with the diaconate, and I also included a lot of those warts in my personal narrative, spiritual journey document. Actually, I have been surprised that they are still interested as I know I don’t feel worthy to be called to be a deacon, if that is what He is doing, but I know none of us are worthy.


#20

You are right there none of us are worthy to participate in Holy Orders, it is only by the Grace of God that we are able.:thumbsup: Just keep trusting in the Lord and keep up the prayers.

My prayers are also with you.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.