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For Initial Discernment and Admission into Diaconate Formation
Inquiry Phase (Initial Discernment)
The Office of the Diaconate is looking for matured men who are already living a lifestyle of service to the Church and their community, men whose lifestyles of service would be further strengthened and sacramentalized by the reception of Holy Orders. Typically, the men recommended by their pastors and deacons have an attitude of Christian service in kindness and humility.
Given the nature of the deacon’s ministry of service, discernment of a vocation to the diaconate is always engaged in cooperatively with the Church. Men who express an interest in applying for the diaconate formation must meet certain specific requirements. After completion of the initial discernment and having gone through some scrutiny the individual may submit his application for acceptance into diaconate formation.
Admission to Aspirancy
The Aspirant path of formation is a two (2) year process. In accord with Canon Law, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops establishes the minimum age for ordination to the permanent diaconate at thirty-five (35) for all candidates, married or celibate. The establishment of a maximum age for ordination is at the discretion of the diocesan bishop, keeping in mind the particular needs and expectations of the diocese regarding diaconal ministry and life.
The following are the basic requirements for consideration to be admitted to Aspirant Path of Diaconate Formation.
Age, Residency, Health and Employment
- In accord with Canon Law, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops establishes the minimum age for ordination to the permanent diaconate at thirty-five (35) for all candidates, married or celibate. The establishment of a maximum age for ordination is at the discretion of the diocesan bishop, keeping in mind the particular needs and expectations of the diocese regarding diaconal ministry (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons, 87)
- Reside in the Diocese of Fort Worth for a minimum of two (2) years
- Must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident
- Be in good health: sufficiently active and energized to endure the rigors of the formation program and later the demands of diaconal ministry
- Have a stable job and a favorable financial situation and a stable employment history
Vocational Support and Sacraments
- Must have a letter of recommendation from parish pastor and a deacon
- Have received the Sacraments of Initiation
- If a convert to Catholicism, must be at least three (3) years beyond reception into full communion in the Catholic Church
- Must be single and celibate for at least three (3) years before he can apply to demonstrate that he enjoys a stable, settled life, and has a history of healthy relationships
- Able and willing to accept to live a life of celibacy
- Must be in a stable and healthy sacramental matrimony of at least ten (10) years or longer. This is a critical key factor in deciding whether to continue the application process
- Enjoy the full, genuine, and active support of his wife who is willing to participate in the formation program, in appropriate ways
- Wife must be Catholic and be active in and in good standing with the Church and parish
- If the Inquirer and/or his wife has a previous marriage which ended in divorce, annulment(s) must be completed, a Declaration of Nullity granted, and convalidation or sanation completed prior to initiating the discernment process
If single or widowed:
- If widowed, have at least two (2) years to heal and recover from the loss of his spouse and be willing to freely embrace celibacy
Ministry to the Poor
- Have a verifiable record of service to the parish community at least for the past two years
- Have demonstrated at least a year of hands-on-service to those in need within his own parish, and/or in the larger community in the Diocese of Fort Worth. This is a critical key factor in deciding whether to continue the application process. Types of service would include, but not limited to:
- helping the poor and homeless,
- ministry to those in jail and prison,
- visiting those in hospitals or confined to their homes due to illness and;
- caring for the bereaved
Education, Faith Formation, and Background
- Have at least a high school education (diploma) or an accredited general equivalency diploma (GED), with an ability to do the required college-level academic work of the program
- If English is not the native language, must have a reasonable grasp of the English language (be able to have a basic conversation). This is a critical key factor in deciding whether to continue the application process
- Have completed the diocesan Adult Safe Environment Awareness Training (VIRTUS) and criminal background check
- No criminal record (felony and/or misdemeanor)
- Be a mature person, in good psychological health and free of addictive behaviors
- Be free from all canonical impediments and irregularities* (canon 1041) for the reception of Holy Orders
Canonical Prohibitions for Receiving Orders
Deacons are sacred ministers (members of the hierarchy). In order to minimize/avoid any possible issue during formation any men who may have incurred in any of these impediments will not be accepted even for inquiry.
Canonical prohibitions (can.1041) which can lead to denial of invitation to the initial discernment and/or admission to Aspirancy include:
- Insanity, a diagnosed mental illness or addiction;
- Commission of apostasy, heresy or schism;
- Being ordained or in perpetual vows as a member of a religious order;
- Being married outside of the Church or being in an invalid marriage;
- Commission of voluntary homicide;
- Performing, financing, procuring or cooperating in an abortion;
- Attempting suicide;
- Self-mutilation including vasectomy or tubal ligation (wife);
- Impersonation of an ordained minister;
- Involvement in any activity that would be unbecoming to the clerical state or that would bring scandal to the Church
The Diocese of Fort Worth is dedicated to a Safe Environment. We offer extensive and mandatory training for all employees and volunteers. Please contact the Safe Environment office if you need assistance or to report an abuse or concern.
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