I’m in the deaconate program in the ArchDiocese of Detroit ( just finshed my 1st year)
No, you don’t have to quit your day job, in fact, having a steady source of income was a requirement for acceptance into the program.
The Church recognized that you have to feed you family.
Yes, the deacon does have a ministry outside Mass. In fact, in many ways, that is the primary ministry of the deacon.
A deacon might be asked by his bishop to engage in ministry to the sick, the eldery or those in prison. There might be a call to parish ministry, assisting the pastor as he might need ( preparation of those seeking marriage, RCIA, baptism classes\baptisms)
It all depends on what skills and gifts you bring to the Church and what the current needs of the Church are.
As to why\how I discerned a vocation to the deaconate. I’m still not sure.
I had the thought in my head for awhile, it didn’t go anywhere though. I happened to find myself next to a Byzantine Catholic deacon at a Catholic men’s conference. I talked to him a lot. He was a wealth of information on a deacon’s life and it’s history (the Eastern Churches have pretty much always had an active married deaconate)
I started looking for info on the web and finally went to an informative session put on by the archdiocese. My wife and I talked about it and decided it was something I should pursue.
And I am.
In general, I’ve found I’m happier when I’m doing what God wants me to do, even if I’m not too sure exactly why. And the deaconate is certainly the case.
Feel free to PM me!