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The Permanent Diaconate
History of the Permanent Diaconate | Permanent Diaconate Progarm at St. Peter's Institute
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Restored after 1500 years by Second Vatican Council, the Diaconate is rooted in the New Testament Church. The apostles chose deacons to help them respond to the pressing needs of the infant Church and to maintain fidelity to its mission of service. Deacons are called to embody the ideal of every follower of Christ, to be "one who serves." (Luke 22:27)
Permanent Deacons are:
Ministers of Service -- Though all are servants by Baptism, the permanent deacon is ordained as a sacramental sign of the Christ the Servant. Deacons offer direct service to those in need, and also help church members to discover their participation in the ministry of Christ. Service is the calling of the deacon.
Ministers of the Church -- Permanent deacons are ordained for the service of the diocese and are recognized as collaborative associates of the Bishop and priests, lay ministers and professionals. The ministry of permanent deacons in parishes, and in special outreach ministries, calls for a team approach complimentary to the ministries of others.
Ordained Ministers -- Permanent deacons share in the Sacrament of Orders with the Bishop and priests. By ordination the permanent deacon is brought into a new relationship in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Graced for ministry, the permanent deacon is publicly acknowledged by the Church as one called by God to serve the community of believers and the evangelizing mission of the church.
What They Do -- A permanent deacon's ministry evolves in response to specific needs and his God-given talents. There are three dimensions of diaconal service: Ministry of Love and Justice, Ministry of the Word of God, and Ministry within the Liturgy. Permanent deacons prepare the faithful to receive the sacraments and to carry out their vocations as baptized Christians. They are able to preach, teach, counsel and give spiritual guidance. They baptize, witness marriages and preside at wake services. In all that they do, permanent deacons act as servants of the church.
AGE: Candidates must be at least 35 years of age at the time of ordination and are eligible for admission to the program until age 60.
STATUS: Married candidates must have been married seven to ten years to qualify for admission to the program. Single men will be required to make a solemn public commitment to the celibate life and will normally not be permitted to marry after being ordained as a permanent deacon.
INCOME: Candidates must be employed, or retired with an income, during the Permanent Diaconate Formation and Study Program, at the time of ordination, and during their Ministry. Permanent deacons do not get paid for their diaconal services.
HEALTH: Candidates will require a certificate of satisfactory health from a doctor determined by the seminary. Psychological assessments will also be required.
EDUCATION: Candidates are required to demonstrate the equivalent of two years of university or college education. Consideration will be given to the demonstration of proficiency through equivalency tests. The Admissions Committee may also take work experience into consideration.
VALIDITY: Candidates must provide a Baptismal Certificate, a Confirmation Certificate, and a Marriage Certificate if applicable. (Proof of Declaration of Nullity, if applicable.)
RESIDENCY: A candidate must be a person of faith, prudence and good reputation. Among the letters of recommendation, one is required from the candidate's pastor and lay minister attesting to his attributes. A police check will also be done on each applicant for the program. A candidate must also have the full support of his wife and family.
SERVICE: A candidate should already be involved in service activities within the parish, or in the community. The permanent diaconate is a continuation of service, rather than just a beginning.