Appoint, therefore, for yourselves . . . deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.
— Didache XV, 1
From the earliest days of the Church, many needs have arisen that have called forth the various gifts of the Holy Spirit through the generous service of Christian men and women.
One distinct example of this is the order of Diakonia, or “service.” In Sacred Scripture, the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-6) details the commissioning of the first deacons — select men who were “reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom” and appointed to the task of caring for the daily distribution.
Today, permanent deacons continue to be an icon in the Church of Christ the Servant. Within the Diocese of Colorado Springs, this is most often seen with permanent deacons assisting at Mass, teaching sacramental preparation, visiting the sick and homebound, and assisting in various pastoral duties in the parish. These men have been chosen from among the faithful and formed to carry out this vocation of service. You might personally know a few of them in your parish.
Many men from our parishes over the years have shown interest in the diaconate and, with the help of the Permanent Deacon Formation Program, have discerned this vocation. This discernment is part of a five- year process that involves academic, spiritual, pastoral, and human formation. Currently, there are 20 men in formation looking towards ordination in 2020.
One of those candidates, Bob Elliott, recalls how he was called to discern the permanent diaconate:
“I don’t so much remember the day or time or even the circumstances . . . it wasn’t an ‘ahh haa’ moment. However, I found myself several years ago ‘taking inventory’ . . . I came to realize the gifts that God had afforded me. I could see the constant of God’s love despite all of my shortcomings,” Elliott said.
“At some point, someone, unsolicited, asked if I had ever considered the permanent diaconate. I chuckled with my response — ‘no I hadn’t’ — and ignored the comment. Some time passed and again, a different person commented that I should ‘seriously pray about becoming a deacon.’”
During the coming months, several information sessions about discerning the call and applying to the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program for the Class of 2024 will be held throughout the diocese. At these information sessions, you can learn more about the vocation to the permanent diaconate, the expectations and pre-requisites for applying, and how to go about the application process. Guidelines for discernment can be found at http://www.diocs.org/Vocations/Permanent-Diaconate.
The application process will close in late summer of 2018, and interviews will be held beginning in early 2019. Those applicants accepted into the program would begin the first year of formation in the fall of 2019.
If you are a Catholic male in good standing and you think that the Lord is inviting you to consider this vocation, please plan on attending one of the information sessions, which will be held at various parishes around the diocese during April and May:
Session I: April 22 at 6 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock.
Session II: May 6 at 6 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Burlington.
Session III: May 20 at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph Parish in Salida (in school gym)
Session IV: May 25 at 6 p.m. at Holy Apostles Parish (in the parish hall located in the basement of the main building)
(Father Jim Baron is director of permanent diaconate formation for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)