When a deacon can start studying?

When a married man can start studying to be a deacon. I know you can’t be a deacon only after 10 years of marriage, but can you complete the training before that time without being ordained?

This is a question that rests with your country and your own diocese. Actually you don’t have to be married at all to be a permanent deacon and universal law makes different age provisions for when a man is married and when he is not.

That said, many dioceses and episcopal conferences will have enacted particular law or normative guidelines, especially concerning a married man and his studies for the diaconate. I would suggest contacting the diocese and its director of diaconal formation and seeing what they do – or might be willing to do – in your circumstances.

It would help to know if you are American or from elsewhere. There are a number of American deacons on this forum better positioned to help give advice…just as there are other clergy from elsewhere who might have a word of counsel to offer for that circumstance.

I’m currently discerning the Diaconate as an aspirant. If you are in the USA, I would suggest that you consult the National Directory which lays down all the norms that the US Bishops like to have. That can be found here (javascript:popupWindow(‘http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/diaconate/upload/DeaconDirectory.pdf’,640,480):wink:

WHat I woudl suggest to be of even more help though is to contact your diaconate formation office of your diocese. They have people on staff who can answer your questions and give your the correct answer for your diocese. Each diocese is slightly different on their requirements and what they will allow.

May the peace of the Lord be with you!


As others have said, it will really depend on your diocese or bishops’ conference.

I will assume you are speaking about the permanent diaconate and the canonical minimum age at ordination is 35 for a married man or 25 for an unmarried man (Canon 1031§2). A particular bishops conference may set the age higher. Perhaps it is the 10 year difference in age between a married and unmarried man that you are thinking of or particular law in your diocese? My own diocese does not have a “minimum time married” requirement, but rather that a marriage must be stable. The youngest man in our current class is 31 and will pass the canonical age of 35 a few months before our ordinations. I believe him and his wife have been married 7 years. Some bishops also have other requirements (i.e. no children under 14 at ordination) while others do not. That can put a unwritten minimum age/length of marriage restriction on a candidate.

With regard to completing “training” and then perhaps taking time off before ordination? Again that would be up to your bishop. In general that would not be the norm as the formation of clergy is not just a matter of taking classes. The intellectual formation is only one aspect of formation. There is also human, spiritual and pastoral formation that is also done. We have a candidate that left formation three years into formation and is tentatively scheduled to return with the current class in two years (we only have 1 new class every 4 years), but it is not guaranteed. He will have to go through a reevaluation and petition the bishop to be readmitted. He will likely have to be mentored on any areas where he might have regressed in one of the pillars of formation. That is not to say it’s not possible, but normally an aspirant/candidate would not be admitted if they know that they anticipate a significant break between formation and ordination. At least that is how things were explained to my current formation class.

In my diocese you can begin study at 30, I believe. I have also heard that if married, your financial situation needs to be stable so a wife and children can be provided for.

I found this on my Diocese website:

Men seeking to participate in the Diaconal Formation Program of the Diocese should be:

• In good standing in the Church, having been a member for not less than five (5) years and in the Diocese not less than three (3) years.
• An active member of his current parish for a minimum of three (3) years, with a history of pastoral and service ministry.
• A citizen of the United States of America, or holding a valid “Green Card.”
• In stable employment and financial self-sufficiency.
• Without a criminal record.
• In possession of a minimum of a high school diploma and capable of college level studies.
• Between the ages of thirty (30) and fifty-fifty (55).
• Married men should be married in the Church, have been married at least (5) years and, with their wives, living examples of the Sacrament.
• Single men must make a commitment to celibacy.

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