The purpose of the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program of the Diocese of Colorado Springs is the preparation of men for the permanent diaconal ministry of the diocese; to the extent possible, that preparation also includes their wives for a supportive role in this ministry and for adequate awareness to give consent.
This preparation for the permanent diaconate takes place in four interrelated dimensions: human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. In each of these dimensions, the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program is designed to afford candidates guidance, challenge, encouragement, and support.
Human Formation. After the model of Christ, the Incarnate Word, the program of human formation seeks to ensure that the character and human personality of the permanent deacon render him a man of communion, that is, a bridge or an instrument, not an obstacle, in mediating the redemptive gifts of God to his. The heart of this formation is an ongoing growth in the practice of the virtues, lived out in the context of the permanent diaconal vocation.
Spiritual Formation. After the model of Christ, the loving Son of the Father, spiritual formation seeks to ensure that the permanent deacon lives in an intimate and unceasing union with God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. The heart of this formation is conversion and discipleship, lived out in ecclesial communion in the spirit of the beatitudes.
Intellectual Formation. After the model of Christ the Teacher, intellectual formation prolongs a post-baptismal mystagogia, in this case not simply for personal benefit but for service in the community of faith. The heart of this formation is an integral Christian faith, embracing both authentic belief and authentic conduct.
Pastoral Formation. After the model of Christ the Good Shepherd, pastoral formation seeks to foster the knowledge and skill to teach and to preach, to celebrate the sacraments, to respond to pastoral needs, and to take appropriate initiatives required by a role of leadership. The heart of this formation is the diaconal character, a life poured out in pastoral charity, with a sense of zeal and joy.
Integration of the Four Dimensions. Human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation are to be understood in a unified and integrated sense. They are neither discrete nor layered dimensions of diaconal existence, but interrelated aspects of a human response to God’s transforming grace. Accordingly, in the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program, all members of the formation community are simultaneously engaged in all four dimensions of diaconal formation.
Human formation uncovers the foundation of the other three. For spiritual formation it fosters development of the virtues and personal qualities that grace perfects in building on nature. For intellectual formation it fosters development of the human qualities of perceptiveness, analysis, and good judgment as a basis for conducting theological study. For pastoral formation it fosters development of the skills, the character, and the commitment that enable the candidate to exercise a service-minded ministry.
Spiritual formation imparts a form to the other three. For human formation, it both assumes and fosters development of a basic relational capacity with God and with others. For intellectual formation it provides opportunities for a loving experience of the mysteries that theology investigates. For pastoral formation it presses candidates to an ever more affective and effective pastoral charity.
Intellectual formation yields an understanding of the other three. For human formation it fosters development of human intelligence as a perfection of the self and as a service to the community of faith. For spiritual formation it deepens and broadens the candidate’s spiritual life by affording content, criteria, and historic witnesses to spiritual growth. For pastoral formation it engenders a comprehensive understanding of the mystery of faith, as well as the skills to engage in an evangelization of culture.
Pastoral formation synthesizes an expression of the other three. For human formation it allows candidates to begin to experience themselves as points of connection between God and his people. For spiritual formation it expresses the spiritual fruitfulness of the ministry, which both demands and furthers a vital union with Christ. For intellectual formation it provides the experience of a ministerial context that allows reality-testing and raises further questions for inquiry.
The point of integration must necessarily be the candidate himself. The Permanent Diaconal Formation Program is designed to ordain a man of character, holiness, pastoral understanding, and pastoral effectiveness—an ardent but gentle servant-leader. Aspirants begin the program already blessed in these qualities. The extent to which they harmonize these qualities and bring them to maturity depends on their own resolve and their cooperation with grace.
Application Requirements for the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program
The following are considered the minimum requirements for candidates applying for admission to the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program.
- At the time of applying, the applicant must be no younger than 30 and no older than 55 years;
- An applicant must have the support of both his wife (if married) and his Pastor;
- An applicant who is unmarried at the time of ordination may not marry afterwards. A deacon who is widowered may not remarry.
Calendar of the Permanent Diaconal Formation Program
The next class will begin in the Fall of 2023. Information sessions on the program and the application process will begin in the Fall of 2022.