Applying to become a permanent deacon is not like applying for a secular job or profession, but involves you and the Church, particularly your bishop, discerning whether or not God is calling you to serve His Church as a deacon. As you can imagine this process of discernment takes time, and commitment on both sides.
Here are the basic facts about training to ordained a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Lancaster. It’s called a course of formation because its aim isn’t only to give you the knowledge, competencies and skills to serve as a deacon, but seeks to assist you in forming yourself, through the grace, into an icon of Christ the Servant.
The formation programme lasts between five or six years, and includes the following:
- A one-year introductory programme known as the Propaedeutic Year, during which you, your director and ultimately the bishop, decide if you are to progress onto the Formation Course.
- A four or five year Course of Formation, that includes being a student on Maryvale’s distance-learning BA course in Applied Theology. This degree course is funded by the diocese, and involves a minimum time commitment of 17 hours a week in order to study modules and write assignments. The Maryvale Institute is an international Catholic college based in Birmingham that is expert in distance learning along the lines of the Open University. Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate occurs at the end of year 4, depending on the final decision of the bishop. The student may complete the fifth year in order to obtain a BA (Hons) in Applied Theology.
- The Course of Formation will also involve a practical internship in a training parish, which is either a nearby parish or your own parish, in which you will gain practical, pastoral and liturgical skills.
Minimum Admission Requirements
Bishop Michael Campbell has issued the minimum requirements for admission onto the Diocese of Lancaster’s Formation Programme, which are set out in the Directory on the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Lancaster.
An applicant must:
1. Be a baptised man who is confirmed and has received his first Holy Communion;
2. Have been a Catholic for a minimum of five years;
3. Be legally a permanent UK resident;
4. Be at least 40 if married or single at the time of his ordination;
5. Be no more than 60 by the time he is due for ordination;
6. Enjoy reasonable physical and good mental health with no condition that would seriously
impede his ministry:
7. Have the necessary ability to complete the formation programme;
8. Be reasonably financially secure;
9. Understand that permanent deacons who are employed or who have been employed are bound
by Canon Law to support themselves from their own funds;
10. Be a current parishioner and have been domiciled in a parish within the Lancaster Diocese for normally at least 3 years:
11. If single, have a settled stable life with a good reputation within the community. He must fully understand the charism of celibacy. He must understand that ordination would mean a life-long commitment to celibacy.
12. If married, to have been validly married for at least 5 years;
13. If widowed have had at least 2 years to heal from the death of his wife;
14. Should his wife predecease him, be willing in normal circumstances to remain celibate
for the rest of his life;
15. Have the full support and consent of his wife, her consent expressed in a hand-written letter accompanying his application. She will also be asked to confirm her consent and support to the bishop at the selection interview;
16. Enjoy, with his immediate family, a good reputation within the community;
17. Not belong to any organisation or engage in any work or professional activity that is, according to the norms of the Church and the prudent judgement of the Bishop, inconsistent with the diaconal ministry;
18. Be able to give the necessary time to both the formation programme and the diaconal
ministry without it being detrimental to his family or working life;
19. Have been active and involved in the parish, or Church, for some time and accepted within the Church and parish community;
20. Be willing to undergo the diocesan formation programme and be involved in on-going
development after ordination;
21. Be willing to make a life-long commitment to serve the Church according to the model
of Christ who came not to be served but to serve;
22. Be willing to promise obedience to the Bishop and his successors and be willing to accept any pastoral assignment that may be given to him;
23. Be highly recommended by his parish priest or those who have worked with him in ministry;
24. Be willing to undergo psychological assessment as to his suitability and to undergo all checks required by the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy prior to formation;
25. Be willing to undergo a full medical examination;
26. Be free of all irregularities and impediments to Orders;
27. Be orthodox both in belief and practice, and be willing to take the Oath of Fidelity and make a profession of faith according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See;
28. Be dedicated to our Lord in the Eucharist, and,
29. above all, he must be a man of faith and prayer.
What do I do next?
Having read what is required of men training for ordination to the permanent diaconate your next step, if you so decide, is to either contact your parish priest or to contact directly the Diocese of Lancaster’s Vocations Director for the Permanent Diaconate.
Prayers to aid you in your discernment of your vocation
Prayer of Dedication
Teach us, Good Lord,
To Serve Thee as Thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.
(St Ignatius of Loyola)
Take, Lord, and Receive
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, you have given me.
I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. Amen
(St Ignatius of Loyola)
The Goal of Life
The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into
us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the centre of our lives,
they displace God
and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better
leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
(St Ignatius of Loyola)