Questions about Deacons


#1

What do men learn in five years, one Saturday a month as they prepare to be deacons? Do they get a degree in something? Do they take theology classes?

Once they are deacons, what do they do besides help the priest at Mass? Can one support a family by being a deacon, or do they need to have another job?


#2

Normally one has a secular job. The deacon of course performs many ministries, like taking the Eucharist to the sick and homebound. They can be involved in the aspects of parish life, like marriage prep, catechism, organizing events, bible studies, etc.


#3

Marry, Bury, and carry (baptize)


#4

[quote="TommyWommy, post:1, topic:256108"]
What do men learn in five years, one Saturday a month as they prepare to be deacons? Do they get a degree in something? Do they take theology classes?

Once they are deacons, what do they do besides help the priest at Mass? Can one support a family by being a deacon, or do they need to have another job?

[/quote]

Note that formation programs are different in different dioceses. In our diocese it is a five year program, attending courses at the local seminary every Wednesday night for 3 hours and one weekend a month from Friday 6:30 pm to Sunday at noon at class and in prayer. At the end of the 5 years those who had a bachelors degree receive a Masters either in Theology or Pastoral Studies depending on their curriculum those without a undergraduate degree received a certificate of studies.

The deacon also does pastoral ministry such as visit those in prison, take communion to the sick, aid in the distribution of food to the poor as well as preside at baptisms, at weddings outside the Mass, at funeral services outside the Mass and other funeral rites such as the Vigil Service and the Committal services.

Normally deacons have full time employment outside of their ministry for which they normally do not get paid. Some deacons are employed by their parish or the diocese.


#5

[quote="DCNBILL, post:4, topic:256108"]
Note that formation programs are different in different dioceses. In our diocese it is a five year program, attending courses at the local seminary every Wednesday night for 3 hours and one weekend a month from Friday 6:30 pm to Sunday at noon at class and in prayer. At the end of the 5 years those who had a bachelors degree receive a Masters either in Theology or Pastoral Studies depending on their curriculum those without a undergraduate degree received a certificate of studies.

The deacon also does pastoral ministry such as visit those in prison, take communion to the sick, aid in the distribution of food to the poor as well as preside at baptisms, at weddings outside the Mass, at funeral services outside the Mass and other funeral rites such as the Vigil Service and the Committal services.

Normally deacons have full time employment outside of their ministry for which they normally do not get paid. Some deacons are employed by their parish or the diocese.

[/quote]

The course of study in my diocese is similar to deacon Bill's.

Once ordained, deacons have 7 of the 11 faculties that priest have. We are premitted to marry, bury, baptize, preach (at Mass), teach, proclaim the Gospel at Mass and are Ordinary minister of Holy Communion. We may not: consecrate, anoint (as in sacrament of the sick), absolve, or confirm. Bishops have the additional faculty of being able to ordain.

In addition we may bless, as in persons and holy object. However a deacon's traditional function is in a ministry of service, i.e. hospitals, prisons, rest homes, etc.


#6

[quote="Saint_Macarius, post:3, topic:256108"]
Marry, Bury, and carry (baptize)

[/quote]

Also known as Hatch, Match, and Dispatch.


#7

[quote="DCNBILL, post:4, topic:256108"]
Note that formation programs are different in different dioceses. In our diocese it is a five year program, attending courses at the local seminary every Wednesday night for 3 hours and one weekend a month from Friday 6:30 pm to Sunday at noon at class and in prayer. At the end of the 5 years those who had a bachelors degree receive a Masters either in Theology or Pastoral Studies depending on their curriculum those without a undergraduate degree received a certificate of studies.

The deacon also does pastoral ministry such as visit those in prison, take communion to the sick, aid in the distribution of food to the poor as well as preside at baptisms, at weddings outside the Mass, at funeral services outside the Mass and other funeral rites such as the Vigil Service and the Committal services.

Normally deacons have full time employment outside of their ministry for which they normally do not get paid. Some deacons are employed by their parish or the diocese.

[/quote]

Just to be clear, you have to stay at the seminary overnight? Is this common throughout the various diocese in the US?

-Tim-


#8

Adding to what's already been posted, in our diocese the formation program is one year of discernment, followed by 4 years with classes two nights a week, 3 hours each night, with about the same number of hours per week in homework. Most of the classes are integrated with a Master's theology track at a local Catholic college.

My understanding is that there is much paperwork prior to ordination in which it is made clear to the candidate deacon - and his spouse - that ordination carries with it no financial remuneration at all. Many, but not all, parishes arrange for some small monthly stipend for the deacon; for example, some parishes permit the deacon to retain stipends given by families for a Baptism the deacon might perform; in other parishes, those are always turned over to the pastor.

Other functions I am aware of deacons performing is pre-martial preparation, pre-Baptism classes, conducting RCIA, driving special projects (such as parish teams working on implementation of the new Missal), and sometimes assuming the function of the parish DRE. There is also sometimes assisting with youth group ministries, conducting special teaching sessions with the Religious Education department -- lots of ad hoc tasks.


#9

[quote="TimothyH, post:7, topic:256108"]
Just to be clear, you have to stay at the seminary overnight? Is this common throughout the various diocese in the US?

-Tim-

[/quote]

Our Diocese has a retreat house where the majority of classes are held. We do stay over night, and classes go into the night.

When we firsts started it was one weekend a month, Friday through Sunday, ending with the Sunday mass at 11. The Saturday evening spirituality classes, all 4 years of formation, lasted most weekends until midnight. Saturdays were killers, mass at 6:45 AM, and then classes started and lasted all day.

The teachers were mostly from our diocese and the Arch Diocese of New Orleans; most were and are seminary instructors.

Later on in the program, two years into it I guess, our leader realized we wouldn't have the hours needed to receive the proper formation, so they added night classes as needed during the week and also additional weekend classes.

This process is not easy, with a family and a full time job, I have no regrets but I am glad the formation process is over.

We are required to receive continuing education each year, and attend retreats.

I didn't have a college degree before starting, and I did not receive a degree with this, only ordination. Some dioceses do offer degrees and require them for deacons, mine does not.


#10

[quote="TimothyH, post:7, topic:256108"]
Just to be clear, you have to stay at the seminary overnight? Is this common throughout the various diocese in the US?

-Tim-

[/quote]

Yes we stay overnight, 3 hours of class on Friday eve, 9 hours of class on Saturday and 2 hours of class on Sunday, with prayer, Mass and meals in between. Beds were hard but the food was great!

I do not think this is the situation in every diocese, we are just lucky enough to have a Regional Seminary in our diocese willing to cooperate in the permanent diaconate formation process.


#11

I am attending my first class tomorrow! We will meet once a month from 8am-6pm and will also have an online component to the class as well. For those with Bachelor's degrees, they will be obtaining a Master's degree in Theology. Each semester is a different college class. My program will be four years of formal study and then probably a year in ministry, prep for ordination. We already had a semester of discernemtn plus around a year of applying, waiting, etc.


#12

I live in England.
here we have only a few seminaries in the whole country. I have been looking at my nearest seminary - Wonersh. there deacons are trained on Saturdays, once a month for a period of 5 years. at the end of that time they receive an academic "Foundation Degree" (A UK qualification lower than a bachelors degree).

The primary calling of a Deacon, (as I understand it) is service or charity, plus teaching (Catachesis, marriage preparation etc.) The Teaching includes reading the Gospel and giving sermons at mass.
Their sacramental role is in a sense secondary, as mentioned before includes witnessing the marriages of the faithful on behalf of the Church, Baptising adults & infants, and funerals where there is no requiem Mass. They are the Ordinary minister of the Eucharist & especially the Precious Blood. They are the Ordinary minister of the Gospel (if a deacon is present he should read the gospel, not the Priest... he may give the Sermon, but only with the permission of the Priest.)

They are Ordaned. Through this ordination they receive a special grace in their calling as servants to the church. It is this Ordination which marks them out as different from the Laity.... Other than reading the gospel, there is nothing which Deacon can do sacramentally which a duly appointed member of the Laity cannot do under specific circumstances if there is no possibility of a Priest being available (e.g. baptise a infant or other person who is unlikely to survive long enough to receive baptism in the ordinary way).


#13

I will be attending the orientation for the 'New Wine Program' this weekend which is the first step in being considered for the diaconate program that is also a 3 year course in our diocese. Here's some info in regards to New Wine.
Adult Ministries New Wine is a lay ministry formation program offered through the Diocese of Fresno. It consists of 11 courses and 2 overnight retreats taught by priests, deacons and qualified lay leaders over the course of 3 years.

New Wine is a three year formation program for men and women that develops ministry and leadership as well as strengthens competence and confidence to live out one’s unique call to ministry.
New Wine is an ideal learning experience for men and women willing to take leadership in ministry.
It provides basic foundation in theology and pastoral skills.
You must have the support and recommendation of your pastor.
The curriculum includes courses on scripture, sacraments, church history, ministry, communication and leadership skills, etc. Theological reflection is an important component within the sequence of courses.
Participants prepare for class by reading assigned texts and completing focus questions.
Weekly classes are 2.5 hours each and include prayer, small and large group discussion and activities, lectures, skill development and time for individual reflection.
The process we use values our Catholic tradition, individual experience and input, critical reflection and group formation.
Although New Wine is a requirement for the permanent diaconate program, completion of New Wine does not guarantee acceptance for men into the permanent diaconate program. Likewise, you will not automatically receive a master catechist certificate, both must be applied for through the proper Diocesan offices.


#14

[quote="TommyWommy, post:1, topic:256108"]
What do men learn in five years, one Saturday a month as they prepare to be deacons? Do they get a degree in something? Do they take theology classes?

?

[/quote]

depends on the diocese, there is probably a link on your diocesan webpage describing their formation.

[quote="TommyWommy, post:1, topic:256108"]

Once they are deacons, what do they do besides help the priest at Mass? Can one support a family by being a deacon, or do they need to have another job?

[/quote]

again it depends on the parish or diocese. in general they can hold as a paid job any position held by any lay Catholic or priest in service of a diocese or parish, except those reserved for priests. The primarily assist the bishop and are appointed at his discretion. They can witness marriages, perform baptisms, conduct funerals outside Mass, and give some blessings, they proclaim the Gospel at Mass, can preach in certain circumstances. some get a salary, some get a stipend, some rely on donations. No a deacon with a family to support cannot quit his day job unless he has a full time paid job with a diocese or Catholic institution.


#15

What they learn:

Here's a list of the names of the modules being taught this year at the seminary nearest to me (In the UK)
There's also a Reading list in the same section on the website: It's an extensive reading list.

Modules

Reading List


#16

Thanks, everyone, for your responses. Is it true that a married deacon cannot remarry if his wife dies?


#17

[quote="TommyWommy, post:16, topic:256108"]
Thanks, everyone, for your responses. Is it true that a married deacon cannot remarry if his wife dies?

[/quote]

from the USCCB website's Frequently Asked Questions About Deacons:

May married men be ordained deacons?
Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the diaconate, when it was restored as a permanent order in the hierarchy, could be opened to "mature married men," later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. This is in keeping with the ancient tradition of the Church, in which married men were ordained into ministry. Also in keeping with ancient practice is the expectation that while a married man may be ordained, an ordained man, if his wife should die, may not marry again without special permission.

So, for the most part, widowed deacons cannot remarry. In limited cases, permission to remarry may be granted, such as if a widowed deacon has young children. There is also a general presumption against widowed deacons becoming priests. In the few cases of widowed deacons becoming priests that I personally know of, they were all retired from their secular careers and in full-time ministry when widowed and their children were all adults.


#18

[quote="DCNBILL, post:4, topic:256108"]
Note that formation programs are different in different dioceses. In our diocese it is a five year program, attending courses at the local seminary every Wednesday night for 3 hours and one weekend a month from Friday 6:30 pm to Sunday at noon at class and in prayer. At the end of the 5 years those who had a bachelors degree receive a Masters either in Theology or Pastoral Studies depending on their curriculum those without a undergraduate degree received a certificate of studies.

The deacon also does pastoral ministry such as visit those in prison, take communion to the sick, aid in the distribution of food to the poor as well as preside at baptisms, at weddings outside the Mass, at funeral services outside the Mass and other funeral rites such as the Vigil Service and the Committal services.

Normally deacons have full time employment outside of their ministry for which they normally do not get paid. Some deacons are employed by their parish or the diocese.

[/quote]

How would one begin the process of becoming a Deacon? My Pastor said, "You would make a phenomenal Deacon." But, where do you begin? He mentioned that college would be hard for someone in my career, retail. But, he also compliments me on my "Reflections", I write him once a week on the upcoming Gospel reading for Sunday and attempt to write my own "Reflection" or what I get from the reading. It seems now he is so busy with school being back in session I am unsure of what to do. Except exercise prayer and patience. Any ideas?


#19

[quote="JerrySeibert, post:18, topic:256108"]
How would one begin the process of becoming a Deacon? My Pastor said, "You would make a phenomenal Deacon." But, where do you begin? He mentioned that college would be hard for someone in my career, retail. But, he also compliments me on my "Reflections", I write him once a week on the upcoming Gospel reading for Sunday and attempt to write my own "Reflection" or what I get from the reading. It seems now he is so busy with school being back in session I am unsure of what to do. Except exercise prayer and patience. Any ideas?

[/quote]

In your case, I would call your Diocese and talk with someone who deals with those who are considering the diaconate. Each diocese is different but there should be a process in place. In my case there is a 3-year course for those who desire formal foundational training for those in lay ministry and then I can apply for being a permanent deacon which is an addition 3-year course. Since our diocese is rather vast, they telecast the classes from different locations within the diocese. Even with that it's still a 2 hour drive to the nearest telecast location for me. :( I'll figure it out and I hope it isn't as difficult for you even though being in the retail business will make it difficult but hopefully not impossible. We have one guy in the class who is a fireman. I believe that occupation would make it a challenge as well.


#20

I believe that most every diocese has some sort of diaconate office. Get in touch with them and see what the requirements are. Some dioceses have lay ministry courses that must be completed before you even apply for the diaconate, while some do not.

I completed a 2 year lay ministry course in my previous diocese with the expectation that I would then apply for formal diaconate formation. However, I then moved to a new state. My new diocese does not have any type of pre-requisite, just apply and see what happens.

I am happy that I have been accepted into the formation program and we just had our first class last week!

Good luck on whatever path God has chosen for you!


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