Permanent diaconate.

Good morning.

I am wondering how exacting preparation and training are for the above?

There is a man here who the priest has at one time suggested go forwards for this.

he is a sterling man of deep faith. BUT he has had little education and is very limited. The last four years I have been helping him with a difficult court case. I am a highly trained and qualified teacher and specialised in literacy problems… Not sure how much with him is lack of appropriate education; rural Ireland farming famiiies tend to take kids out of school early.

When he reads an official letter, he has to put his finger under every word and mouth it,Once he understands, that it fine. In my day we would have called him a “plodder” ; always loved plodders! Old legend of tortoise and hare…

But people have as in the case taken great advantage of him

I think he would make a wonderful deacon; strong family man, deep faith. SIncere man who in his youth thought about the priesthood

But I do not know how exacting this is?

Wondering if with coaching? I have always found him eminently teachable…

Deacons are part of the clergy and so must discern and be accepted into the program. It’s a four year study program, at college level, and involves the same training as a priest. If your friend feels he is being called to the permanent diaconate, then he should contact your diocese’s office of vocations. There are many saints who barely made it through the academic part of priestly training, but their holiness and understanding of the Church more than made up for it.

This ! I know the parish priest has asked him to consider it. Too much humility in this man and yes I thought immediately re Sr John Vianney

Will ask your kind prayers on this… Thank you.

NB does it have to be full time and /or residential? I thought they were drawing in men who were already in full time jobs?

This ! I know the parish priest has asked him to consider it. Too much humility in this man and yes I thought immediately re Sr John Vianney

Will ask your kind prayers on this… Thank you.

NB does it have to be full time and /or residential? I thought they were drawing in men who were already in full time jobs?

Deacons are assigned to a parish and are given other full-time volunteer duties by the bishop. They are expected to earn income enough to support their family outside of their parish and diocesan duties.

Ah thanks and yes he does that already. Am pondering on all this… Once he has understood something it is there in his heart. Deeply and fully so. Pondering…

I can only speak for the programs I know of in the US, but all of them expect men to be able to do graduate level work. In many diocese the training involves obtaining a Master Degree in Theology. Of the 20 men in my formation class, I think I am one of four men that does not already hold a graduate degree. Of us four, I think only one does not hold a college degree, but he has the capacity to if he had wanted to pursue a degree.

In my own program we have just started into the heavier academics. We can easily have 50-100+ pages of reading each week looking at the syllabus. The readings run the gamut from scripture to the Catechism and Vatican documents as well as various books. We also then have papers or speeches that we have to prepare and present. This is on top of our regular jobs, family life, and weekly supervised ministry. We were told to expect to spend roughly 15-25 hours a week on formation between class, studying and ministry.

To give you an idea of the types of classes we have, they include Scripture (Gospels, Pauline Epistles, OT Salvation History, Overview of the Major Prophets), Survey of Canon Law, Introduction to Theology, Sacramental Theology, Ecclesiology and Church History, Overview of Christology and Mariology, Scriptural Exergesis, Homoletics, and then mini courses on special topics. Because all our diaconal candidates have full time jobs, our classes are handled in an accelerated format. This means that a 16 week course is condensed into a 8 week format. To cover all the material requires extensive reading outside of class. We are expected to pickup many things on our own through reading and self study. One of our professors said we are expected to retain about 80% of what seminary students do in half the time.

As I understand it there was a desire by the Bishops to make sure Deacons were more rigorously trained in theology and scripture that perhaps was done in the past. Because of that there has been a huge focus in more academically rigorous programs in the US. This academic focus though has the draw back that it begins to preclude men who do not have the ability to handle a heavy academic workload.

Could he make it through with coaching? Possibly. It would really depend on the diocese and Bishop. It also would likely depend on how much time he had to plod through the material. I wish there was a way to broaden the base of men we could draw from, while still insuring that they have an education that can provide the necessary underpinnings for the vocation.

Five years here.
Wives have to agree with it, (time concerns) and they also have classes of their own.
Most of the men here in Deaconate Formation are older men, whose children no longer need them 24-7.
It’s pretty rigorous.
We have 5 Deacons at our parish. They visit the sick, and Baptize and run the finances, several various duties, preside at Adoration, many things.
We couldn’t function without them. They teach MANY religious Ed classes for me, including the many classes for RCIA and Children’s conversion classes. There’s never been a time where I needed an extra catechist that one of more of them have happily stepped up to help.

I agree with Usiage except in the program that I am in, the man goes through 5 years. The first year is call Aspirancy and is not officially part of formation, but it is a year in which the man discerns the call and the Church is also discerning the man.

In all the requirements that I have seen, college education is not needed, but as Usiage has suggested, you will be expected to do work at a higher level. I know in my formation group, on of the men only has a high school diploma. The reading though can be demanding as has been stated. For this coming semester, I will have to read the entire Old Testament, plus all the notes, and the study guide for it. I believe I was told that amounts to about 200 pages a week (just for one class). I will have another class as well that I have to consider too, plus any other projects or assignments that might be given. That might be overwhelming to some. You say this man is a plodder when he reads, and if that means just that he reads slow, that might be fine. If he has trouble with the English language though, that might be really hard for him.

All points to pray over.

God bless,


Thanks everyone… Am I right that deacons do not get paid? And do they have to pay for their tuition?

Yes, no pay.

No, do not have to pay tuition in most diocese but do have some responsibility for some costs, such as books, LOTH, etc. Different diocese have different practices.

The only deacons that get paid by the church, as far as I know, are for duties outside of being a deacon (e.g. parish business manager, director of religious ed, et cetera). Most deacons have full time employment outside the Church or are retired. One of our deacons ordained earlier this summer is still active duty in the US Army…

For tuition it varies. Some require some type of cost sharing (candidate pays a certian percentage) while others either cover the cost from parish sponsorship or out of a diocesan fund. We still have costs for books ($100-250 per year), alb and vestments (much more expensive then you might expect), et cetera. Our yearly retreat is paid for by the parish, but I don’t know how universal that is. We also have some funds set aside to help anyone that can’t pay for everything. While the costs are not exorbitant, there is generally some level of financial investment expected of the candidates.

That is appalling; not getting paid, I mean. It really is. “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” We have a wealthy Church.

“there is generally some level of financial investment expected of the candidates.”

Words fail, they really do .

The church is not wealthy. Owning priceless artifacts doesn’t mean they can just sell them off for profit. We don’t expect other cultures to sell off their historical things.
Deacons can get a housing allowance if they qualify to help them with house payments, but no, they make no salary unless they have a very specific job that would ordinarily be done by a lay person.
Nuns and Sisters make next to nothing, as do priests. I’ve been in parishes that looked wealthy, but had a very hard time keeping the lights on and such. Try putting in a whole new heating system in many churches. It runs in the 10’s of thousands. Nothing lasts forever, and upkeep of a parish runs high.
There are parishes that get huge collections, but then, they offer tons of ministries and have many buildings and classrooms to outfit and upkeep.

Most people, until they have either actually worked in a parish, or sat on a parish Finance council have no idea what it takes to run the parish, pay the staff, pay utilities, and pay the Diocesan taxes to the Bishop.

Deacons do not do this for financial gain, they do this because of the love they have for God. If a man wants to be a deacon to supplement his income or for a retirement plan, then I would caution him to discern really hard if this is the right path for him. I know for me, the reason I am going through formation is not for fame, glory, money, etc, but simply to serve God. It’s not about me, but what God wants of me. In the end, He may show me that this is not the true path that He has for me, but if it is the path, I will serve Him even if that means that I give up a lot of my free time.

One must also remember that the deacon is symbolic of Christ the servant. Reflecting upon Jesus washing the apostles feet is a good way to understand that this is a call to being a servant to the Church. The deacon has three ministries (liturgy, word and charity) but most people only think of liturgy. Many of the deacons that I know spend only a small amount of time doing the ministry of liturgy.

I hear you but i do not agree. As I said, “the labourer is worthy” and this total lack of remuneration will screen out many. Here in Ireland at least.
Even religious living that version of poverty get their keep. And earn it. This should be no different, A simple matter of practicality And by your reckoning priests and bishops should not get paid,
Will not be following this up now.

Leaving this and you on a more cheerful note

Over and out!

Well, as a deacon, I must say that I find your indignation wildly misdirected and uninformed.

Of course by abandoning the thread, you have demonstrated that you lack any desire to understand more fully the diaconal spirituality, so I guess I won’t bother to confuse you with facts that you won’t see anyhow.


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