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The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth starts a new class for the Permanent Diaconate every 2 years. During these intervals, we offer two informational sessions that present the details of the Permanent Diaconate and the Formation Process that repeat continuously for the two years. To attend the first session, it is important to talk to your family.
Contact our Coordinator of Inquiry, Admissions, and Aspirancy and fill out the Short Inquiry Form from our webpage. There are two informational sessions, the Inquirer attends both and the wife is required to attend the second session. Both sessions last for about 2 hours.
Overview of Formation
The formation for the Permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is a six (6) year process. Understanding that a deacon is to be a Minister of Charity, a Minister of the Word, and a Minister of Liturgy, the formation is built around the person, the knowledge, and the spirituality of the potential future deacon. During this time, the formation is focused on 4 dimensions: spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral.
The first year is called Inquiry. As part of the discernment process for the Inquirer, the first year gives the inquirer an introduction to formation and allow the formation team time to get to know a little about this potential deacon and his wife. This period of formation includes weeknight faith formation classes (optional for the wife) and one Saturday a month workshops (wives are required to attend some sessions) focused on spiritual, human, and pastoral formation. Toward the end of Inquiry, with the advice from the Formation Team, the Bishop will determine whether to accept the Inquirers into Aspirancy.
The next two years are called Aspirancy. This period of formation includes weeknight theology classes (optional for the wife) and one Saturday a month (for both the man and wife…excludes June and July) focused on spiritual, human, and pastoral formation. During this time, the aspirants and their wives will be put in small discussion groups. Toward the end of Aspirancy, with the advice from the Formation Team, the Bishop will determine whether to accept the Aspirants into Candidacy.
If the decision is to continue formation, the next 3 years will be higher level theology courses, continued Saturday formation, retreats, parish placements, and three years of charity ministry (e.g., hospital, correctional system, shelters, hospices). The emphasis for these last three years is to provide the formation to be the best deacon God has called him to be, while maintaining a healthy and growing marriage and family life. These last three years will also include more intense spiritual formation on the weekend retreats.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have prepared a list of questions that are frequently asked by those interested in becoming a Permanent Deacon. Please look through the categories below. If you cannot find the answer to your question, feel free to contact us.
Click on the sections below to expand them and view more information.
Who is the Permanent Deacon?
The Permanent Deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church called to be a "sacramental sign" of the Servant Jesus in the world. The Permanent Deacon is a reminder to all the baptized of their call to be people of service and ministers of justice in the world. The Permanent Deacon leads by his own witness of faithful service and advocacy for justice and he empowers others to be signs of Jesus' service in the world. Before he was ordained, the Permanent Deacon was an active Catholic lay person, known for his dedication and service to the people of God. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Permanent Deacon is ordained to lifelong service of the people of God.
What is the role of the Permanent Deacon?
The Permanent Deacon's role is most properly defined by his lifestyle of personal commitment to Christian service. He is primarily responsible for promoting and sustaining the apostolic activity of the Church in his most characteristic ministry; the ministry of charity and justice, a ministry that is distinguished by works of social concern and human development. In addition, the Permanent Deacon may baptize solemnly, officiate at marriages and funeral services, assist as Permanent Deacon in liturgical celebrations and preach in the Eucharistic Liturgy, and he may preside at various forms of community devotions.
As an individual, the Permanent Deacon maintains his current job and family life. Through his Ordination, the Permanent Deacon is committed to a lifelong ministry of worship, word, and service. The Permanent Deacon neither replaces nor inhibits the ministry of priest or laity in the Church. The Permanent Deacon's role is unique, and its focus is to be a living reminder of Christ the Servant present in the Church and world today.
What kinds of things does the Permanent Deacon do?
The Permanent Deacon reaches out to the poor, the sick, the elderly, the forgotten, the divorced, the alienated, the imprisoned, those who have no voice or suffer injustice, and others. He performs works of charity, justice, and administration in the name of the Church. He helps organize, lead, and support lay ministry. He may assist in marriage and baptismal preparation as well as other forms of catechesis.
Since the Permanent Deacon is identified in the role of servant, he can be more effective as an evangelizer and as a liturgical minister who proclaims the gospel and preaches from a base of direct contact and ministry among God's poor and needy.
The Permanent Deacon is often called to lead God’s people in prayer (Liturgy of the Hours, officiating at wakes and funerals).
What is the difference between Transitional and Permanent Deacon?
Men who are to be ordained priests are ordained Deacons prior to priesthood. These men are sometimes referred to as Transitional Permanent Deacons, because they are in the process of transition to priesthood. Men who are ordained Deacons and remain in that state for the rest of their lives are referred to as Permanent Deacons. Both Transitional and Permanent Deacons are ordained into the one Order of Deacon.
Is the Permanent Deacon ordained for the parish or for the diocese?
Orders are the sacrament of the whole Church. Anyone ordained; bishop, priest, or Permanent Deacon, is ordained for the Church. The promise of obedience at Ordination is to the diocesan bishop. It is up to the bishop to assign clergy to whatever ministry is most appropriate for the good of the whole Church. That assignment may be to the local parish, another parish, or to some other institution or ministry. As an ordained minister, the Permanent Deacon has a special relationship to the diocesan bishop. As a Permanent Deacon, he is the "eyes and ears" of the bishop in things pertaining to the welfare and needs of the people.
Can Permanent Deacon be married?
Married men can become Permanent Deacons. If married, a potential candidate should be in a stable marriage for at least five years and have the expressed consent and support of his wife. If a married Permanent Deacon is widowed, ordinarily he may not remarry. Wives of Permanent Deacons take part in the full formation process so that they and their husbands can grow together and support one another in their lives and ministries. When single men are ordained as Permanent Deacons, they make a promise of celibacy and may not marry once they are ordained.
What is some of the history of the restored Diaconate?
The Order of Deacon was instituted by the apostles. Initially, seven were chosen and "hands laid on them" (Ordination) so that they could carry on in the name of the apostles the ministry to certain widows in need. The ministry assigned to Permanent Deacons grew to include others in need, administration of temporal affairs of the Church, preaching, and certain sacramental ministries (Acts 6 and following).
After a few hundred years the Order of Deacon disappeared as a separate and distinct order in the Western Church. This order was restored as a permanent and public ministry in the Roman Church as a result of a decision made by the bishops at the Second Vatican Council. The restoration of the Permanent Diaconate was authorized in the United States in 1968. The number of Permanent Deacons in the United States has continued to grow steadily. In 2000 there were more than 12,000 Permanent Deacons ministering in more than 140 (arch)dioceses in the United States.
The above link takes you to the Deacons web pages.
What is the age requirements?
The age of the man entering the inquiry process for the Permanent Diaconate should be between the age of 30 and 55 (he must be 56 or younger when the first class begins).
Many men in our current cohorts are between the ages of 46 and 60; some have small children, but the couple has family and friends who can take care of the children when they are in formation. Even though many deacons continue to serve into their 80’s, with a 6-year program, the man should be 55 or younger before beginning the process.
We encourage those who exceed this age, who may be a vital part of their parish and offer many years of service to our diocese, to consider being a catechist (Word), an acolyte (Liturgy), or be involved in pastoral care ministry in the hospitals or correctional system (Charity).
What is the education requirements?
Whereas the first year of Inquiry are basic faith formation courses, the next five years include college-level theology classes. Reading assignments are typically 100 pages a week, there are presentations, research papers, and written tests (occasionally oral tests).
Whereas a college degree is recommended, a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g. GED) is required, before admission to formation.
What should be the residency status?
Before being admitted to formation, the Inquirer and his wife (if married) must be either a US citizen or a Permanent Resident (aka Green Card).
What is the time requirements?
Time for formation for the permanent diaconate should include weeknights and Saturdays, study and homework time, special assignments, and retreats. Remember, for most, this is going to be added to your normal life of family, church ministry, and careers. The numbers below may vary depending on your reading speed and study habits. It does not include travel time and miscellaneous time like traffic and time to eat. Weeknight classes are virtual via Zoom and Saturday classes are in-person at a local parish.
Inquiry Year – Classroom: 2 hours a week for 6 weeks in the Fall and 12 weeks in the Spring. For many people 3-4 hours of homework time per hour in the classroom. One Saturday a month for 10 months: 9am to 12pm. For many people, 2-3 hours of reading assignments for Saturday workshops.
Aspirant (Years 1-2) – Classroom: 2.50 hours a week for 16 weeks in the Fall and 16 weeks in the Spring. Wives are required to attend some classes on Saturdays. For many people 3-4 hours of homework time per hour in the classroom. ALSO, one Saturday a month for 10 months: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. For many people, 5-10 hours of homework for Saturday classes.
Candidate (Years 3-5) – The Academic classes will increase in requirements, the Saturday classes will continue, but an increase in parish duties, social ministry (e.g., hospital, correctional system), and annual retreats will be added.
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