Is God Calling You to Serve as a Permanent Deacon?
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Permanent deacons are ordained in the sacrament of Holy Orders to a threefold ministry of service in Charity, Word, and Liturgy. Deacons are called to be approachable men of prayer who inspire and animate others by their examples of Christ-like service. Each permanent deacon makes sacred, lifelong promises of obedience and respect to serve his bishop in the ministry to which the bishop assigns him. Permanent deacons must be financially stable and self-sufficient; they continue to support themselves and their family while offering uncompensated service to the Church. Both married and single men can be ordained to the permanent diaconate. For married men, the vocation to the diaconate is meant to be integrated with, and never a diminishment of, their marital vocation. According to the National Directory, his “ministry within the domestic Church . . . forms the basis of the married deacon’s unique gift within the Church.”
The Permanent Deacon Formation Program in the Diocese of Saginaw is a five-year program, comprised of an inquiry year, a year of aspirancy, and three years of candidacy. Applications for the Permanent Deacon Formation Program are accepted by the Diocese of Saginaw once every four years. The next application period opens in 2020. At least two years of lay ministry formation are required before entering the aspirancy year of the Permanent Deacon Formation Program, unless the applicant possesses a degree in theology, pastoral ministry, or the equivalent. Acceptance into the Lay Ministry Formation Program does not guarantee acceptance into the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program. Each applicant requires the support of his pastor or pastoral administrator, and married men require the consent of their wives in order to apply. Please also note that the minimum age at the time of ordination is 35, and the maximum age is normally 65, though there can be some dialogue regarding the maximum age. The last four years of the program involve a tuition fee of $550 per year for the individual and $550 per year for the parish; most of the remaining costs of the formation program are covered by the diocese. The Permanent Deacon Formation Program focuses on five key areas: human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and diaconal formation. The program year goes from September to early June, and includes one all-day Saturday gathering per month, two or three Tuesday evening online classes per month, and an annual retreat. Unless otherwise specified, spouses are warmly welcome but not required to attend most formation gatherings.
For married permanent deacons, their primary vocation is to their marriage.