Feel the calling to be a Deacon


#1

Hello all,

For a few years now I have felt the calling to be a Deacon, my wife was actually the first to know, but just recently after a very difficult time in my life I feel as God is asking me to finally pursue my calling.

I am married with 2 wonderful children.

I need a lot of guidance and prayers for me to take the next step in becoming a Deacon. I’m not sure which direction to take or how to get started.

I am 29 years old and will soon be 30 in April. I know you have to be a certain age in some diocese.

I know it is a very difficult journey, but with constant prayers and my eyes on God I know I will achieve my vocation.

Thank you all for your help.
God Bless You!


#2

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength, fortitude & wisdom in your discernment. God bless you.


#3

Did your call come before or after Children?
If you haven’t already, I would suggest you learn the “Art of Natural Family Planning” by John and Sheila Kippely. They present a complete approach to NFP unlike other methods that tend to focus on the woman and method efficacy of postponing children. A complete approach to NFP increases the husband’s role with marriage and family life and reinforces God’s plan for marriage. After you have NFP down become an instructor and if you still believe God is calling you to be a Deacon then you will have a special gift to share with married couples especially men.
Deacons who don’t know NFP have missed a huge chapter in their formation.


#4

Nporta, you will be in my prayers. I too am discerning the call and have begun the application process. What I would suggest it to call the Diaconate office for your diocese and make an appointment to talk with them. They can explain all the requirements best and help you start to forge down that path. They also may give you some great suggestions to help discern the call yourself, but know that even if you feel that you are being called, the Church will need to validate that. In many diocese’s, there is a year call the aspirancy year which is built into the diaconate program. It is a year that is used by you and the church to validate the calling.

Another great resource that you should look though is the “The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States”. It contains a lot of the information of what a deacon is, what he isn’t, what things will he do, and I believe it also states what are required things (how long you have to be married if you are married, how old you must be, etc).

God bless you while you look at this and my prayers are with you. I know it can be a scary time at times. I have woken up a few times early in the process where I thought I must be nuts to even consider this. I haven’t had one of those thoughts in a long, long time though.

GB,

John


#5

I am in the 1st year- which is a year of discernment. The application process is long…I had a 12 page application that included essays on different topics. Your priest will have to write a letter of recommendation and there is also a psychological exam that has to be done (3 hours of questions and interviews for me). In my diocese, Savannah, GA, the minimum age is 35 to apply. Being very active in your church and it’s different programs is a must…

A good starting point is asking to be an altar server. Our parish had never had adult servers, but I asked my pastor to help train youth servers and now I get to participate in all masses.

Your wife will need to be on board 110%. She will also have to write a letter in your behalf. You know, if she dies, you will not be able to re-marry? Many diocese will not accept candidates with very young children because of this.

Anyway, hope this helps. God bless you on this journey.


#6

Great advice Eric… get involved with your church if you are not already.

Some other areas that you may want to get involved in are outside of the mass though. Much of a Deacon’s life is spent outside the physical church and in the community. Reach out to the needy… help out with Jail ministry. This is a great experience as many of these men and women are arching and thirsting for Jesus. Most dioceses will have an office that will assist you with this and will pair you up with someone who has been doing this for some time.

Volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter is also another great opportunity. It get’s you working with those who need help and that is what the Church is all about. On many Thursday’s I will volunteer at a local Soup kitchen and I love doing it.

If you are an Eucharistic minister, you could also take communion to the jails on Sunday’s (or to nursing homes or shut in’s). If you are not an Eucharistic minister, what are you waiting for? Talk with your pastor and find out when the next training session is. I love distributing communion!

You can also be a lector and read the readings. As a Deacon, you will have to proclaim the word of God, so now is a great time to get yourself comfortable of standing up and reading the readings. I know 10+ years ago when I started to do this it terrified me, but now I have no concerns and love doing it.

Another option is to teach PSR or help with the RCIA program. Both are great opportunities to develop teaching skills which you may need as a deacon.

The key is get involved (inside the physical church and outside of it). Social outreach is big as there are may marginalized people out there and one of the roles of the Deacon is to be a servant, just like Jesus was.

Anyhow, when I first approached the diaconate, they commended me on how I helped with readings and as a Eucharistic minister, and in doing the Liturgy of the Hours, but they said that is just a small part of what a deacon does and they encouraged me to start doing the social outreach items too, to help balance that all out.

Lastly, If you do not have a spiritual director I would recommend that you obtain one to assist you with your discernment and your spiritual life in general.

GB,

John


#7

All due respect BooBoo1, NFP had absolutely nothing to do with my discernment to towards Holy Orders.

Is it something a person who will be a minister of Holy Matrimony and marriage preparation? YES! But I fail to see logic in the statement I underlined. A deacon is not ordained to teach NFP, he is ordained to serve the Church; one specialty may be NFP but the vast majority will not be experts in the process nor is there a need or prerequisite for ordination.


#8

Not sure if you are from the US, but the USCCB has set a minimum age for ordination at 35. Most dioceses will generally not ordain men even at that age, I’m sure some will. I would be reluctant to enter formation with young children. By your age I’m sure they are both in their adolescent years and are in great need of a present father. I can promise you , formation and duties as a deacon will take you away from your family and your job; both are central to the raising of small children.

I have three children, when I started formation my kids were 15 & 12. During formation we adopted another at 15, she is right in the middle of our two boys.

They are now 22, 20, and 19. It was a challenge for my wife and I, especially my wife who was taking the same classes that I was for credit towards a masters degree for catechists. She had to withdraw with a year of formation left when we adopted our daughter.

I would suggest you talk to your diocese’s vocations director and the director of the diaconate for your diocese before you go any further to see if the Church agrees with your calling at this time. She may, but then again, She may say yes but not now.

Good luck!


#9

Thank you all for the wonderful advise. Here in my Archdioceses of Miami the minimum age for a deacon is at age 31, just one year away for me.

I will take everything into consideration and begin to start my journey. My wife knows how hard it will be and she in definitely on board. My kids are ages 5 and 2 so that is something I will need to consider as well.

Thank you!


#10

It is not impossible to raise very small children and be a cleric at the same time, I don’t mean to discourage you. The directors in your diocese will let you know if the young age of your children would postpone your acceptance into formation.

Just a side note, we have a priest who is a convert to the Church who was previously an Episcopalian priest. He is married and has three small kids; the latest one was born within the last year. That was an incredible and yet VERY rare sight; to see a Roman Catholic priest baptize his own infant!


#11

I waited until my children were out of the house before I started my formation. The time spent in classes and the homework that was involved in the formation process took up a lot of my time and I did not want to miss all of that time with my children. There were a few gentlemen in formation with younger children but I think that most of them left the program after the first year. I am not saying it would be impossible but just a warning of the time and effort that formation involves.

My prayers are with the OP in his discernment.


#12

When I started formation, my youngest was 10 and my oldest was 14 (we have four children). I did not find the demands of formation to be detrimental to our family life, nor did my wife. There were 57 men originally in our class. 43 were ordained. Of those who were not ordained, I am not aware that the demands of children at home was a reason for any of them not making it to ordination. Moreover, several of the men in my class had children in the same age range as our children and were able to organize their time effectively.


#13

Wow 43 ordained, in one class!! :thumbsup: Where did you have the ordination?


#14

I started formation when I had 4 children. The oldest of whom was 12, our youngest (at the time) was 1.

I did end up stepping back from formation, when we began expecting our 5th child, and now have our 6th. But I did continue with the academic studies.

I’ll look at going back into formation in a few years, when the youngest becomes an altar boy and my wife is then free of young children at Mass.

One comment I will make, is that young children often enhance a ministry. My service ministry was as an EMHC to the homebound elderly in our parish. Visiting the elderly really is best done with small children, they light up the person’s face like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

One lady remarked how lucky I was to have daughters. She had two sons, and now 5 grandsons. She mentioned that, as a girl, she had always envisioned tea parties with her daughters.

So the next Sunday, I brought along my girls in big bonnets, a china set and snacks. So while the ladies were having their tea, I was in the kitchen preparing and serving.

I though of Acts 6, how the Diaconate was created to bring food to widows and children. A tea party was probably not foremost on St. Peter’s mind when he ordained the first Deacons, but I’m sure that particular party brought a smile to his face.


#15

the Cathedral


#16

If you do not already have a spiritual director, I would suggest you find one and begin meeting with him regularly.

Directors are skilled in helping people discern vocations.

Also, EXISTING involvement in your parish’s ministries is very important. Many pastors are reluctant to recommend someone to the diaconate that are not involved in existing ministries.

In other words, you shouldn’t race to join a bunch of new ministries, but rather, continual what you are [hopefully] already doing; and have been doing for some time.

There is too much variance between dioceses regarding having young children, what age you must be to begin, and so forth. The only rules that matter are those of your own diocese.

So . . . continue your parish ministries, get a spiritual director, and start meeting with your pastor about your calling.

God will show you, over time, whether he is calling you to sacred orders. Just pray and be receptive to what Christ wants.

God bless,


#17

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.