The principle function of the permanent diaconate is to collaborate with the Archbishop and priests in the exercise of the ministry of Word, Liturgy and Service, which is not of their own wisdom but of the word of God, calling all to conversion and holiness. ("Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons", 1998) In the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the staff consists of a director and associate director for deacons. Their office provides a formation program that includes a human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimension for those called to ordained service. Additionally this office has the responsibility for helping interested applicants discern their possible call to formation and ordination. This includes the inquirer, aspirant and candidate phases of formation, with evaluation and testing. It also, has responsibility for post-ordination formation for the ordained deacons and their spouses in human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas.
Who and What Is a Deacon?
A permanent deacon is a man, married or single, who is called by God and church from among its members to be ordained to a life of service and spiritual leadership. He must be a man of faith, one who listens to and prays about the Word of God. He is a man who has responded to a call of Christ, to serve his brothers and sisters. He must be deeply and reverently committed to living the Word of God. His life, even before ordination to the diaconate, must have been lived so as to witness his desire for and dedication to the service of God.
The deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church called to be a “sacramental sign” of the Servant Jesus in the world. Through the reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders, he becomes a member of the clergy and ceases to be a member of the laity. The deacon is a reminder to all the baptized of their call to be people of service and ministers of justice. He leads his own witness of faithful service and advocacy for justice and he empowers others to be signs of Jesus’ service in the world.
What Do Deacons Do?
Deacons are most visible to the community in their liturgical role. The call to the Order of Deacons, however, is primarily a call to a ministry of service. He is to share in the bishop’s ministry of care for God’s people, exercising that care in a wide variety of ministries: hospitals, nursing homes, community centers, prisons, social work, diocesan administration and parish life. The diaconal ministry is a call to leadership in service and, thus, the deacon should call others to ministry by his witness and example. As a facilitator of ministry, the deacon works with the pastor and parish staff in identifying areas of need, helping develop programs to meet the need and training lay men and women to perform the ministry.
The deacon is called to proclaim and live the Word of God. Thus he may preach, instruct converts, offer religious education to adults and children, and participate in the many other activities of the archdiocese. In his liturgical and sacramental functions he may baptize, witness marriages for the Church, distribute Holy Communion, take Holy Communion to the sick, officiate at wakes and funeral services, administer sacramentals and preside at prayer services.
Although the deacon receives a sacred order, he does not necessarily function in the order as his full-time occupation, but remains responsible for the support of himself and his family in his normal job. He offers his service as a deacon, dedicating 10 to 12 hours each week to his work of the church.
What Is the Formation Program?
The four-year deacon formation program leading to ordination as a permanent deacon consists of the Aspirancy year and Candidacy (three years). When the application period is over, the program staff, with the counsel of the Committee on Admissions, makes recommendations to the Archbishop concerning admission to the Aspirancy year. The Archbishop makes the decision concerning admission.
The Aspirancy year is primarily a time for discernment on the part of the applicant as well as on the part of the Church as represented by the program staff and the Archbishop. There will be a weekend session each month at the Pastoral Center in Oklahoma City, beginning in September and continuing through May. At the end of the Aspirancy year, the program staff will make recommendations to the Archbishop as to which aspirants will be admitted to the three-year Candidacy period.
Each of the three years of the Candidacy period includes attendance at monthly weekend sessions at the Catholic Pastoral Center, and a weekend spiritual retreat. In addition, the candidate must take at least one Pastoral Ministry Program course each semester (Fall and Spring) each of the three years. The candidate is expected to complete the Pastoral Ministry Program ten-course requirement for the Archdiocese’s Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. This requirement may be completed after ordination. Those who have completed the Pastoral Ministry Program before entering or during the three years of candidacy will take other courses recommended by the program staff.
Please mark your calendars for October 21-23,2016 and plan to attend this year’s retreat at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to attend a retreat at SLC, we hope that you will make every effort to experience this year’s retreat. The retreat master will be Fr. Albert Bruecken.
The Spiritual LIie Center is a place of prayer. Here you will find a place to retreat from daily living and a place conducive to the quieting the soul.
Chapel of Mary, the First Disciple
Blessed Sacarament Chapel
Twelve men were ordained to the Permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Oct. 18, 2013. Please pray for these men as they begin their ministry and for all the Deacons in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Click here to read their bios