Question for Deacons


I won’t go into a long story here but one way or another, I may be discerning the diaconate. For some time, I had a deep sense I may have been called to the priesthood but “missed” it. As a married man, I struggled with this, in prayer and every time someone asked me if I considered seminary, etc. It began three years ago, when I “reverted” and has never subsided.

Recently, after meeting with a deacon I know, I had to step back and consider if I could be called to a different ministry and just not seen it. This deacon was the third (priest or deacon) in the past 12 months to take me aside and ask: “Have you ever considered you might be called to the diaconate?” If you’re reading this now and saying, 'Well duh! God does speak through others," I understand. I am thick-headed.

I read like crazy but I haven’t seen any good books about the diaconate. Could someone suggest some for me? Also, if anyone would be willing to share his vocation testimony, I would really appreciate it.

I will continue to pray about this. Please pray for me.

Thank you and have a blessed weekend!

Perhaps you can have a chat with the deacon who took you aside? It sounds like he would be glad to answer your questions and give you his testimony.

I will say a prayer for you.

I am still discerning a call to the permanent diaconate, but here are a couple books I’ve read or am reading:

The Diaconate: A Full and Equal Order by James Monroe Barnett
The Deacon Reader by James Keating
A New Friendship: The Spirituality and Ministry of the Deacon by Edward Buelt

The deacon that asked me when I was going into formation also loaned me a pamphlet style book (maybe 30 pages) titled something like “Diaconal Spirituality: A call to service” (?) I think it was from his diocesan formation program though.

I think it’s important to remember that the permanent diaconate isn’t a “priest light” vocation. That is why I have been focusing on the spirituality and ministry of the diaconate as seperate to the call to the presbyter.

Thank you.

Oh yes, I heard his testimony over a cup of coffee yesterday!

I will speak to him again but I just had the urge to try and find some books over the weekend.

Thank you for the book titles.

Yes, I am well aware that the diaconate is not “priest light” and I appreciate the wise words. This is precisely why, whenever I have been asked previously whether I would consider discerning the ministry, I have declined. It was my belief that I could not honestly proceed if I thought deep down it was a way to get “closer” to priesthood.

What changed is that I had to be honest with myself and see that I had not truly explored whether the diaconate was what I was being called to. Serving as a catechist and an extraordinary minister of holy communion, I began to encounter our deacon, who also teaches religious education classes and does nursing home ministry. It is observing me in these roles that caused him to approach me regarding seminary.

Am I making sense?

That makes perfect sense and my apologies if I implied you saw the diaconate as a form of junior priest. I guess what I was getting at was it’s important for my discernment is how the diaconate fits between service of the laity and priestly ministry. What distinguishes the spritual call of the deacon? It sounds like that is kinda where you’ve been at also. I guess I’m still trying to figure out where a call to lay service crosses over into the call to the diaconate. Hopefully I figure that out some day. :smiley:

I would also suggest starting to pray the liturgy of the hours if you don’t already do so. I find it has given me time to truly reflect on the call.

I guess I’m still trying to figure out where a call to lay service crosses over into the call to the diaconate. Hopefully I figure that out some day.

Great point.

I ponder that sometimes too. So far, a few things have come to mind (heart?).

Commitment and identification. Like a casual dating relationship that matures into marriage… I’m realizing it’s one thing to throw words around like priest, deacon, minister and quite another to actually say “yes” and take that step! Also, like a married man with a ring, your identity is then more deeply intertwined with the role. In other words, it’s no longer “I do this sometimes” but rather “this is what and who I am.”

It always comes back to Our Lord’s summary of the Law and the Prophets: put your all into loving God and put your all into loving folks. Amen? He’ll show us the details on a “need to know” basis! :wink:

Oh… thanks for the suggestion about the Liturgy of the Hours. Funny, I just bought a new guide to the hours this evening! Also, I find rosary every morning and again at night if possible is a great habit.

I suggest you talk to your diocese’s vocation director. If your diocese is calling forth a class of deacons, you should know that a HUGE part of the formation process is for each candidate to discern this very issue. I wasn’t sure I was called to the diaconate until our pre-ordination retreat (5 days), which was after almost 5 years of formation and only about a month before ordination.

You should also know that discernment of a vocation is a two way street. It isn’t just your decision, it is also up to the bishop, advised by all those who have been involved in your formation, to make the decision is well. When I considered this aspect, it frankly took off a great weight, knowing that is wasn’t ALL up to me.

Like you, I had several priests and deacons tell me before I applied, that I should consider the diaconate. Listen. Pray. Best of luck. God Bless.

Thank you for more wise words.

Yes, I am well aware of the “two way street” as you call it! I have read a bit about discernment and spoken to enough folks to have heard stories of guys being “released” after a month, a year, whatever. The way it has been explained to me, you should not truly be sure you have been called until you are called by the bishop to ordination. As difficult as that sounds, I realize one must accept this to proceed.

I am thankful for any and all (lay) ministry the Lord has entrusted to this unworthy sinner already. IF he wants me to make a deeper commitment and IF the church discerns that this is the case, I am eager to say “yes.” :o That is how I am trying to see it.

I have just finished 101 Questions & Answers About Deacons. Very interesting.

I used to tell me deacon candidate classmates that I wouldn’t be sure of my calling to the diaconate until I felt the cold marble floor of the cathedral against my cheek…:thumbsup:

Ahhh the kids sang the Litany of the Saints today at Mass and I went right back to that moment. :slight_smile:

William Ditewig has also written several books about the diaconate that you may find helpful.

Ha! I love it. :wink:

That image reminded me of a consolation I experienced years ago, in the very beginning of what I began to see as a call.

The first time I attended mass at our cathedral, where of course countless priests and deacons are ordained, I got what I can best describe as “butterflies” or electricity as I approached the beautiful marble platform to receive communion.

“Yes, Lord?”

I believe I am called to the diaconate. What a beautiful way for married men to participate in the Holy Eucharist.

Yes, it is!

I have had folks come up to me and inquire as to whether I have thought of the diaconate, including lay ministers, CCD instructors and a priest. Another priest I spoke with about this thought it was an excellent idea, perhaps because (I was thinking) our parish does not have one. I have read extensively on the subject and prayed a lot about it and plan on attending an informational meeting with the deacon who oversees this for the archdiocese early next year. I pray for all who have the call and I hope you all will pray for me. I think an openness to service is one part of the calling, along with a love of the mass, Sacred Scripture, evangelizing people by word and action, as well as theology. Let’s face it–you have to have all of these qualities as the formation takes years and is an intellectual pursuit, as well as spiritual.

I see it has been nearly a month since I started this thread and I am 100% “stuck” since that time.

Not that I’m sad or anything- I am as active and happy as ever with the ministries in which I participate. I’m just stuck with regards to any new awareness of my vocation.

I pray all the time, get to confession often and spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament regularly. My prayer life is cool, just not one clue about this matter. I am still deeply attracted to the priesthood. I have begun to read about the diaconate and find it to be an awesome ministry. But I am not getting a “nudge” from the Lord about it.

Pray for me.

And a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving to all. :wink:

I will pray for you. And a blessed Thanksgiving to you as well!

I attended a wake recently. My neighbor’s wife died.

On my way out the door, I deliberately “hid” the large crucifix I wear every day, because it occurred to me that at a wake or funeral, I would not want to mislead anyone and “impersonate” clergy.

Anyhow, there I am at the wake. I speak to a few people, then visit the casket to pray for the deceased and the family. While I’m waiting to speak to my neighbor, I see a family member gesturing toward me.

"There’s the deacon, " he says, pointing. “Aren’t you the deacon?”

I of course explain I am not the deacon. I’m wondering why he would think that, in my white shirt, big crucifix tucked neatly under my shirt.

After the wake I decided to stop into my old church to pray near the tabernacle for a while. On the way, I stop into the hardware store for something. I bump into a guy with whom I used to work. He asks what I’ve been up to and I mention I’m working part time at the bookstore and doing some volunteer ministry.

"So, are you gonna be a deacon ?" he asks.

I’ve been praying every day for direction, clarity, a nudge.

I wonder if this is part of the answer.

I personally believe these little misunderstandings by chancother nothing if the sort, in reality. Angels and folks guided by the Spirit operate in the world. Perhaps this is all part of the vocare of God? Maybe?

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