Hi guys. I’ve long considered joining the Diaconate later in life (after more studying/marriage [so I will have to wait until I am at least 35]). Of course I know it is all in God’s will so I will not go as far as to say it is concrete yet, but I was wanting some advice as to what materials any current or former Deacons would recommend that I study or any contemplations, reflections, spiritual exercises, etc… I’m currently being helped/guided by a friend of mine who used to be a practicing Deacon and he has given me a lot of insight, but I welcome any suggestions and am eager to learn as much as possible. Thank you all in advance!
Some thoughts: You don’t so much “join” the Diaconate as apply for acceptance into a diocese’s formation program, which typically last 4-5 years, but individual dioceses have different lengths of formation. Classes may be all weekend, every weekend during the school year, or at nights during the week. While there is the minimal ordination age you cited, many dioceses prefer to ordain only older men in recognition of the many demands young children at home make; in my diocese, before acceptance into formation as a practical matter one’s children must at least be in high school. Stability in marriage is a must; some dioceses will accept a man who has had a prior annulled marriage, others won’t. Requiring at least 10 years (sometimes more) of a stable marriage is usually a minimum norm, as is the express written consent of one’s spouse. There is a good deal of paperwork in order to apply, numerous references (including one’s pastor), and several letters of formal acknowledgements by both the candidate and his spouse that a deacon may not remarry should his spouse die – another reason for the “older children” practice.
Developing and nourishing one’s spiritual life is vital, but at this point in your (seemingly) young life, involvement in parish life and in ministries of liturgical and parish / community service should play a big role: lector / Extraordinary Minister, teaching in a religious ed program, volunteering in youth ministry, ministries to the homebound, etc. – these types of activities and experiences are usually heavily considered when a diocese reviews applications for entrance into a diaconal formation program. In our area I think the acceptance rate into formation is around 25% or so of those who apply, and the aspirants / candidates (those in the program over 2 years) are re-evaluated each year of formation.
I know deacons who could be considered “traditionalist” and others who would be considered (at least by “traditionalists”) as being on the liberal side of the spectrum; what’s important is that you have a healthy prayer life and foster that with whatever spiritual reading nourishes you and assists your discernment. Finally, you need to decide if this is what you want for yourself, or if it is what God is calling you to do.
Hope these thoughts help.
Great advice. I’m aware that it was a poor choice of words to say “join” as opposed to apply, but it’s a good thing that you clarified that for anyone else contemplating it.
I am still discerning whether it is currently a me or God issue at this point, so it’s nothing set in stone obviously (that and given my age). I believe God will sort that out eventually though.