Preparing to be a Deacon

The Permanent Diaconate is a threefold ministry:

  • Minister of the Word — To proclaim the Gospel and preach the homily.
  • Minister of the Liturgy — To baptize, to witness marriages, communion services, and conduct funeral rites.
  • Minister of Service — To work with the marginalized, the poor, the imprisoned, and bring comfort to the sick.

Candidates for the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church are admitted to the program under the sponsorship of their diocesan bishop or religious superior.  The Diocese of Buffalo Program for Diaconal Formation is aligned with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. 

Requirements

The minimum requirements for acceptance into the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program are:

  • The inquirer must be between 30 and 55 years of age to begin discernment as an inquirer.
  • He must be recommended by the pastor of his parish and must already be involved in parish ministry for a period of time.
  • If married, the inquirer must be married for at least five years, and be in a stable marriage.
  • If not married, he must be living in a celibate state and be resolved to remain celibate his entire life.
  • If divorced, he must have a church annulment.
  • The inquirer must be physically and emotionally healthy and free of any substance dependency.
  • The inquirer must have a clean criminal background.
  • The inquirer must be economically stable and self-sufficient.
  • It is expected that discernment, formation [and eventually diaconal] responsibilities will be in addition to secular occupations.
  • If the inquirer was not raised as a Catholic, five years must have elapsed since his baptism or full reception into the Catholic Church.
  • Graduation from high school or equivalent is required.
  • A willingness to make a commitment to all aspects of the discernment/formation program is expected. Inquirers are expected to successfully complete the necessary studies required during the discernment/formation program.
  • The wife of an inquirer must demonstrate her support and affirmation of her husband's decision and be willing to participate in those programs and activities where the participation of Inquirer's/Aspirant's/Candidate's wife is required.
Among the many qualities and skills needed for fruitful diaconal ministry, the following characteristics are looked for and fostered during inquiry:
  • prayerful desire to grow in the spiritual life
  • demonstrated ability to work with and to serve the needs of others
  • healthy self esteem
  • responsibility
  • capacity for initiative
  • potential for pastoral leadership
  • intelligence and capacity for study
  • respect for authority and commitment to the Church
  • a balanced understanding of the priorities of marriage and family, secular occupation, and ministry
  • a sense of God's call to serve the Church in the role of deacon

Spring Information Sessions

A mandatory Information Session held in the spring of each year outlines the formation, life, and ministry of a deacon.  Both the husband and wife MUST attend before the candidate can begin the application process.  For a list of Diaconate Information Session dates and locations, please email Deacon Timothy Chriswell.

Candidates receive their theological studies through Christ the King Seminary. Those who meet the Seminary's admissions requirements work toward a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry suited specifically for the deacon candidates as they complete their diaconal formation.

In addition to their academic classes, one weekend each month from September through May, candidates stay at the Seminary from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon for study, prayer and reflection in a formation program administered by the Office of the Permanent Diaconate designed especially for them.

To learn more about the diaconal formation program, please email your inquiry to Deacon Timothy Chriswell.

Buffalo Seminary School