Widowed Deacon-in-training in a relationship?


#1

I have a question regarding the training of Catholic Deacons and the requirements associated with the calling.

I know of a deacon who was widowed approximately 3 years ago and is currently in his second year of education to become a deacon for the church. A family member of mine who has been widowed for almost three years has recently started dating this person rather seriously. My knowledge of the Catholic faith was that widowed deacons made vows of celibacy. Does this include abstinence of dating or from other serious relationships?
I’m rather worried, both for the deacon in training that he may be making a very serious mistake that could disrupt his calling to the church, and also my family member who may not be aware of the rules/regulations of the faith.
Any answers or links to references would be greatly appreciated.

God bless.


#2

[quote="Curious74, post:1, topic:309846"]
I have a question regarding the training of Catholic Deacons and the requirements associated with the calling.

I know of a deacon who was widowed approximately 3 years ago and is currently in his second year of education to become a deacon for the church. A family member of mine who has been widowed for almost three years has recently started dating this person rather seriously. My knowledge of the Catholic faith was that widowed deacons made vows of celibacy. Does this include abstinence of dating or from other serious relationships?
I'm rather worried, both for the deacon in training that he may be making a very serious mistake that could disrupt his calling to the church, and also my family member who may not be aware of the rules/regulations of the faith.
Any answers or links to references would be greatly appreciated.

God bless.

[/quote]

I don't understand your question. Is he already an Ordained Deacon, or is studying to become a Deacon?


#3

My apologies, he is studying to become a deacon.


#4

[quote="Curious74, post:1, topic:309846"]
I have a question regarding the training of Catholic Deacons and the requirements associated with the calling.

I know of a deacon who was widowed approximately 3 years ago and is currently in his second year of education to become a deacon for the church. A family member of mine who has been widowed for almost three years has recently started dating this person rather seriously. My knowledge of the Catholic faith was that widowed deacons made vows of celibacy. Does this include abstinence of dating or from other serious relationships?
I'm rather worried, both for the deacon in training that he may be making a very serious mistake that could disrupt his calling to the church, and also my family member who may not be aware of the rules/regulations of the faith.
Any answers or links to references would be greatly appreciated.

God bless.

[/quote]

If he's in training then he's not a deacon yet and is free to pursue the vocation of married life.

Obviously, both people in this arrangement are seriously considering the vocation of marriage or they wouldn't be dating.

This person is already two years into his diaconate training. Be assured that he knows the rules and regulations of dating in his situation.

I don't see a problem with any of this. If they want to get married it will have to take place before his ordination to the diaconate.


#5

[quote="kmuestwin, post:4, topic:309846"]
If he's in training then he's not a deacon yet and is free to pursue the vocation of married life.

Obviously, both people in this arrangement are seriously considering the vocation of marriage or they wouldn't be dating.

This person is already two years into his diaconate training. Be assured that he knows the rules and regulations of dating in his situation.

I don't see a problem with any of this. If they want to get married it will have to take place before his ordination to the diaconate.

[/quote]

I don't think it's quite that simple. He needs to put his diaconate training on hold until he has made up his mind whether he wants to get married and be trained to be a married permanent deacon, or to remain a widower and be trained to be a celibate deacon (and possibly later a priest).

What they are doing may not be against any formal rules, but it is also not a good idea either pastorally or personally.

In most dioceses training for a mature candidate for the diaconate takes only three years or so, so if he is already two years into training he should be at least formally engaged to this woman (with the marriage date set obviously for a date nefore his ordination date) not merely "seriously dating". If they are not ready to get engaged yet, then they should break off either the dating or the diaconate training.

Also note that in most if not all dioceses, the bishop needs to get a formal agreement and endorsement from a potential candidate's wife BEFORE he begins training as a candidate to be a married deacon. Most dioceses also require that the wife be known to the bishop to be a practising Catholic.


#6

Interesting. I had an earlier question about this issue and I guess this is the answer. So a man can get married multiple times as long as it is because the death of the spouse in every case, and still receive ordination?


#7

I think the larger issue here is that the diocesan rules I’m acquainted with require that a candidate for diaconal ordination be married for x number of years and prove to be in a stable marriage. In our diocese, that number is 10; it may be different elsewhere. This man’s right to date before ordination is unquestioned; however, were he to marry this close (a year or two) before ordination, he would seem to be in a “newlywed” status and presumably fall short of the rules in his diocese regarding how long a diaconal candidate must be married before ordination.


#8

Thank you for the responses, I certainly appreciate the information.
I suppose that leads to other inquiries, such as is an ordained deacon also permitted to date freely?


#9

No. One who is ordained cannot get married. Marriage must always take place before ordination, even in the Eastern Rites where there is a long tradition of married clergy (including priests).


#10

In theory yes. Or if the previous marriage/s had been declared null.

However each candidate for ordination is invited by the bishop as an individual as a result of the bishop’s individual judgment of the fitness of that individual. Nobody has a "right’ to ordination.


#11

There are exceptions where a widowed deacon may be allowed to marry with permission. Often it's when the care of small children is involved. There may be other circumstances.

However given that he is not yet a deacon, that wouldn't apply here. If he were a deacon, we have to be charitable and assume the best and that he may be one of the cases of exception.

It's best to try and avoid finding scandal where none exists. It's really a private matter between the deacon-in-training, the person he is dating, and the bishop and those responsible for his formation.

Why are you worried about this person being trained as a deacon? Is he a close friend or family member? If not it's a case of MYOB.


#12

my understanding is that both priests and deacons can only have been married once based on St. Paul’s instruction in his letters. If the person has been married once and if she died and it was a valid marriage then he would not be able to be married again if he is pursuing the deaconate. Is this first hand knowledge that “they are serious?” or just supportive friends? You might be acting on hersay here, I don’t know. If he is just taking classes and trying to decern whether to become a deacon or maybe remarry, it should basically not be your concern or business and evetually under the guidance of his spiritual advisors will sort this out.


#13

[quote="Petergee, post:5, topic:309846"]
...until he has made up his mind whether he wants to get married and be trained to be a married permanent deacon, or to remain a widower and be trained to be a celibate deacon (and possibly later a priest).

[/quote]

Though a different issue, it should be resolved before training. The Diaconate and the Priesthood are different vocations. Though not the topic of this thread, the question should not be will they "go all the way and be a Priest". Men called to the Diaconate should train for and practice the ministry of a Deacon. Those to the Priesthood as a Priest.

Sorry about taking it off topic, but that is a pet peeve of mine. Both are valid, substantial and honorable callings. But they are different from each other.

As to the original topic: a discussion with his Spiritual Director then the Vocations Director will give him the answer. Should it be that he would like to marry again and this would not allow for an ordained vocation, then that is a valid answer to discernment as well. Ministry as a lay person is also valid, substantial and honorable!


#14

[quote="robwar, post:12, topic:309846"]
my understanding is that both priests and deacons can only have been married once based on St. Paul's instruction in his letters. If the person has been married once and if she died and it was a valid marriage then he would not be able to be married again if he is pursuing the deaconate.

[/quote]

Hmm... there's nothing in canon law that states this restriction. It's possible that a bishop might make this an informal guide that he follows in deciding whether to ordain a man as a permanent deacon, but that's not a necessity.

On the other hand, if the man is recently married, then it wouldn't be too surprising that his formators might ask him to discern whether it's appropriate for him to step down from formation until his marriage is a little less recent. ;)

In the case of the OP's question, one would hope that the prospective deacon has talked with his formators in advance about his desire to date (and potentially, to marry). This isn't the sort of thing that formators like to find out about second-hand...


#15

[quote="robwar, post:12, topic:309846"]
my understanding is that both priests and deacons can only have been married once based on St. Paul's instruction in his letters. If the person has been married once and if she died and it was a valid marriage then he would not be able to be married again if he is pursuing the deaconate. Is this first hand knowledge that "they are serious?" or just supportive friends? You might be acting on hersay here, I don't know. If he is just taking classes and trying to decern whether to become a deacon or maybe remarry, it should basically not be your concern or business and evetually under the guidance of his spiritual advisors will sort this out.

[/quote]

In the Orthodox Church it is that way. Then again there is a difference in theology about marriage (Orthodox believe marriages are forever) so I was curious if at least in practice it was the same in the Latin Rite. I was not able to get an answer before but by the sound of this thread it looks like the answer is that men can get married a second time (or more) and still receive ordination provided of course the marriage is Sacramental meaning the previous marriage ended with the death of the wife.


#16

[quote="Gorgias, post:14, topic:309846"]
Hmm... there's nothing in canon law that states this restriction. It's possible that a bishop might make this an informal guide that he follows in deciding whether to ordain a man as a permanent deacon, but that's not a necessity.

On the other hand, if the man is recently married, then it wouldn't be too surprising that his formators might ask him to discern whether it's appropriate for him to step down from formation until his marriage is a little less recent. ;)

In the case of the OP's question, one would hope that the prospective deacon has talked with his formators in advance about his desire to date (and potentially, to marry). This isn't the sort of thing that formators like to find out about second-hand...

[/quote]

My information came from speaking with more than one deacon. I know in at least my archdiocese of Detroit, the call to the deaconate is suppose to be discerned by the man and if married with the full support of the spouse and their discernment too. I think that while deacons can be married, it was my understanding that if their spouse dies, they are not suppose to be able to remarry and remain a deacon at the same time and as a priest, be the spouse or previous spouse of one wife. I've known a few deacons that lost their spouses and then moved onto the priesthood. Back to the OP, the person he is concerned about is just taking beginning classes and may just be starting to discern and decide what God is calling him to do. It comes across as more hersay than anything.


#17

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:15, topic:309846"]
In the Orthodox Church it is that way. Then again there is a difference in theology about marriage (Orthodox believe marriages are forever) so I was curious if at least in practice it was the same in the Latin Rite. I was not able to get an answer before but by the sound of this thread it looks like the answer is that men can get married a second time (or more) and still receive ordination provided of course the marriage is Sacramental meaning the previous marriage ended with the death of the wife.

[/quote]

How then can Orthodox allow divorce and remarriage? Do both marriages last forever?

God Bless


#18

[quote="ChurchSoldier, post:13, topic:309846"]
Though a different issue, it should be resolved before training. The Diaconate and the Priesthood are different vocations. Though not the topic of this thread, the question should not be will they "go all the way and be a Priest". Men called to the Diaconate should train for and practice the ministry of a Deacon. Those to the Priesthood as a Priest.

Sorry about taking it off topic, but that is a pet peeve of mine. Both are valid, substantial and honorable callings. But they are different from each other.

As to the original topic: a discussion with his Spiritual Director then the Vocations Director will give him the answer. Should it be that he would like to marry again and this would not allow for an ordained vocation, then that is a valid answer to discernment as well. Ministry as a lay person is also valid, substantial and honorable!

[/quote]

Yes I agree with you and I certainly wasn't implying that every celibate deacon must or even should go on to be a priest.


#19

Right; and I’m not contesting that what they’re saying is untrue. However, my guess is that what they’re telling you has more to do with the way that their bishop(s) run their deacon formation programs than it does with any formal ecclesiastical restriction.

I know in at least my archdiocese of Detroit, the call to the deaconate is suppose to be discerned by the man and if married with the full support of the spouse and their discernment too.

This is correct.

I think that while deacons can be married, it was my understanding that if their spouse dies, they are not suppose to be able to remarry and remain a deacon at the same time

This is also correct; however, there is the explicit possibility (mentioned in canon law) that a permanent deacon who is a widower may receive permission to marry, as OraLabora has mentioned.

be the spouse or previous spouse of one wife.

And while it may be less likely that a bishop will accept a man who’s been married more than once into a formation program, it’s not (to the best of my knowledge) a formal requirement. I’m not up to date with Church documents on the formation of permanent deacons, though. Even so, I would still think that references to this issue would speak to careful discernment rather than to outright impediment.

Back to the OP, the person he is concerned about is just taking beginning classes and may just be starting to discern and decide what God is calling him to do.

Right. So, this is more a theoretical discussion than anything else. Nevertheless, there isn’t, to the best of my knowledge, anything that would make him irregular for orders.


#20

[quote="robwar, post:12, topic:309846"]
my understanding is that both priests and deacons can only have been married once based on St. Paul's instruction in his letters.

[/quote]

The Catholic understanding is that St Paul's instruction precludes polygamy (two "wives" at the same time) but does not exclude remarriage after the death of a wife (which from the Gospels our Saviour also allowed for).

Widowed deacons cannot remarry AFTER ordination (except with special dispensation, and only if the wife died AFTER the deacon's ordination)

but in principle a man could be widowed multiple times BEFORE ordination.


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