Men who are inclined to serve the community and develop their faith might have a deeper calling — one to the permanent diaconate.
“We’re looking for men who are truly being called to a life of service,” said Deacon Robert Hoffman, director of the St. Francis School of Theology.
Those who are interested in considering the diaconate are invited to attend one of several upcoming retreats where they can discern while getting more information about the St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons, the diaconate formation program for the Archdiocese of Denver.
“It’s a good name, formation, because it will take men from where they’re at to something much deeper — a deeper relationship with Christ,” said Deacon Hoffman.
“We look for that deep relationship with Christ to begin with,” he said. “We look for men that truly have a calling to the diaconate. Because it is a life-changer.”
Called to be ‘God’s living vessels’
The diaconate is a three-fold ministry that includes responsibility for the Word, liturgy and charity. Men hoping to pursue it must be at least 35 years old at the time of ordination and must begin formation before he turns 61 years old. They should be obedient, flexible and willing to serve wherever they are needed.
The deacons in this archdiocese have had a tremendously positive effect on the Church of Denver.”
Every other year, the diaconate program accepts an incoming class. The next one will begin in the fall of 2019.
For men who are married, their wives are encouraged to be involved with their formation. If a wife passes away before a husband who is a deacon, he will remain celibate from that point on. Men who are not married will remain celibate and are not allowed to marry.
The diaconate program takes four years followed by three years of continued education after the men are ordained permanent deacons.
After ordination, the archbishop assigns the deacons to serve at a parish and take on a role within an outside ministry, such as at hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
“The deacons in this archdiocese have had a tremendously positive effect on the Church of Denver,” said Deacon Joseph Donohue, director of deacon personnel.
“Through this liturgical effort, the deacons minister as God’s living vessels,” he said. “To be these instruments, deacons live out the beatitudes — not only in their parish ministry, but throughout the archdiocese.”
Deacon Hoffman believes going out to the peripheries is a crucial part of the vocation.
“From the charitable side is where you may have the biggest impact with the deacon,” he said. “There are so many things that priests don’t have an opportunity or the time [to do] because they’re so busy with their parishes.”
Deacons minister to those throughout the community, and do so with knowledge of Church doctrine and truth, Deacon Hoffman added. They also perform baptisms, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services outside of the Mass, preach the Gospel and homilies and distribute Communion.
It’s through being instruments of God’s love on earth, said Deacon Donohoe, that deacons impact the Church.
“In a special way, deacons are able to take the prayers and labors of the people present them to God at the altar so that their burdens and cares are raised up to God,” he said. “Through this liturgical effort, the deacons minister as God’s living vessels.”
Both deacons hope local men will take seriously the call to the diaconate.
“I simply hope that they can assist the archbishop in all of the ministries that he desires and feels are critical to the archdiocese,” said Deacon Hoffman.
Interested in becoming a deacon?
The Holy Spirit calls men to the Holy Order of deacon in a variety of ways. For some, it is the stirring within their hearts that leads them to explore the diaconate. For others, the Holy Spirit may move the man’s wife or family to introduce the subject, thus initiating his inquiry. Within the parish setting, there may be parishioners who, in witnessing the man’s service and ministry, suggest he should consider the diaconate. Finally, the pastor and his staff may identify men who exemplify the spirituality and service for whom the diaconate may seem appropriate. If the Holy Spirit is calling you to consider the diaconate, the St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons is forming a new class for men of the Archdiocese of Denver. If you are interested, please call your pastor or St. Francis School of Theology for Deacons at 303-715-3236, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.