Archdiocese of Baltimore – Class of 2015
Deacon Formation Team
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A deacon receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders and therefore is no longer a lay person. He is a member of the clergy of the Catholic Church. By his ordination, the deacon is the interpreter of the needs and the desires of the Christian communities and the sign or sacrament of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve. (Pope Paul VI)
From the very early Church, diaconal ministry has focused on Love and Justice, the Word of God, and the Liturgy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1570) makes this point quite strongly by stating that deacons “share in Christ’s mission….as servant of all.”
The deacon is an animator and promoter of the community’s active love. The deacon must bring Christ’s healing power to the needy, whether the need is physical, economic, or spiritual. The deacon must present Christ’s power in the Church and in the marketplace.
Through the ministry of the Word of God, the deacon teaches and provides catechetical instruction and Christian counseling. The deacon can offer spiritual direction and conduct retreats. Most importantly, the deacon preaches and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The deacon assists at the Mass by proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, offering the general intercessions, preparing the gifts, and distributing Holy Communion. The deacon also administers the sacrament of Baptism; and the deacon witnesses the sacrament of Matrimony. The deacon may preside at the Rites of Christian burial, at Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, at the Celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office), novenas and other liturgical rites. In addition, the deacon has the ancient duty of bringing Viaticum to the dying.
There are four dimensions of Deacon Formation:
Human Formation aims for the fuller development of one’s humanity so that the deacon’s humanity can be a bridge for communicating Jesus. The capacity to relate to others which is fundamental for a person called to be in service for the community. The whole being is involved in formation including the body, mind and heart: psychological competence, communication skills, maintaining one’s physical well being, nurturing healthy relationships, and openness to the arts, sciences and politics of human life. Integrating all of this and more is essential to become a complete and holy person.
The spiritual formation dimension of the deacon formation program is rooted in the understanding that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. As Genesis 1:26 proclaims, God has spoken at creation, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Deacon spiritual formation is also rooted in the knowledge that God has formed all people. Again as Genesis 2:7-8 boldly proclaims, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breadth of life.” The spiritual life is a life drawing closer to God by always growing in awareness of God’s creative intimacy.
This understanding is the foundational principle of the spiritual formation aspects in the Deacon Formation Program. The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (Washington, DC: USCCB) expresses this very eloquently: “The spiritual life is, therefore, dynamic and never static. The first goal of spiritual formation is the establishment and nourishment of attitude, habits, and practices that will set the foundation for a lifetime of ongoing spiritual discipline.”
The theological program is predominantly taught by the faculty of Saint Mary’s Seminary and University on 18 Saturdays during an academic year from 8:30 am—3 pm. A member of the faculty is the liaison with the Deacon Formation Team to facilitate the theological component of the formation program. The written work by the candidates is assigned, read, and evaluated by the Formation Team. This approach helps the team to assess more clearly each man’s progress.
The intellectual dimension of formation must be designed to communicate a knowledge of the faith and church tradition that is ‘complete and serious’ so that each participant will be prepared to carry out his vital ministry.” (National Directory, para. 118).
The courses included:
Pastoral Formation entails the development of skills and competencies that enable deacons to serve their people well. It is the practical side of theology. Deacons must keep themselves aware of the challenges of the people he serves. They should continue to enhance their pastoral skills by gathering new insights on how to minister and allowing themselves to be evaluated so that they can continue to be formed. They develop:
The following requirements must be achieved prior to acceptance into the four-year formation program.
Personal Requirements. You must:
* The Deacon Formation Team will consider equivalencies or exceptions for any of these requirements.