Basic Requirements for Admission to the Diaconal Formation Program
DIOCESE OF AUSTIN DIACONAL FORMATION PROGRAM
ASPIRANT APPLICATION PACKET
Basic Requirements For Admission to the Diaconal Formation Program
- The minimum age for men to receive ordination is thirty-five (35) years. Maximum age to enter the Diaconal Formation Program is sixty (60)years, unless the Bishop allows an exception.
- Five years should elapse between a convert’s or returning Catholic’s entry into the Church and his acceptance into formation. He must be sponsored by his pastor or another priest of the diocese and must have a pastoral supervisor. Care must be given to someone in whom a sudden conversion experience seems to precipitate a diaconal vocation.
- If married, the couple must be in a marriage that is considered valid by the Catholic Church. This is documented by official marriage certificate issued by the parish where the marriage occurred. If the husband or wife had a prior marriage, either a death certificate or documents from a diocesan tribunal are required to substantiate that they are in a valid marriage. If the man is single, but has been married before, then either a death certificate or documents from a diocesan tribunal are required to substantiate that he is free to enter into a valid marriage. Care should be extended to those who are recently widowed or divorced. The single applicant must have lived in a celibate state for at least five years.
- The married applicant must demonstrate evidence of a stable marriage for a minimum of five years and have the enthusiastic support of his wife. This requirement is substantiated through letters of recommendation by persons who have known the applicant and his wife (if married) for several years and by interviews conducted during the application process. The married applicants and their wives will take a marriage assessment instrument.
- The applicant should be in good health. He should have a physical examination within six months of the application date, and a report from the examining physician must be included with the application. This report should state that the applicant is capable of sustaining the rigors of a strenuous academic formation program while maintaining his current work status.
- Permanent deacons must be economically stable and self-sufficient. It is expected that the ministry of diaconate will be part time for most deacons, so that each must have a source of income for support of self and family, including providing for their retirement needs. Deacons are not paid for their ministry.
- Graduation from high school or the equivalent is required.
- Applicants are expected to complete the necessary studies required during the five years of the formation period. Due to the intensity of the formation, active ministry within the parish may need to be reduced during the formation period.
- The applicant should have a reasonable knowledge of the service role of the deacon in the Church. An applicant will participate in an admissions tool called the “Deacon Perceiver,” which measures the natural gifts a man has against an ideal composite of “who a deacon should be.”
- Each applicant should exemplify a spiritual and prayer life prior to entering formation and training.
- The willingness of the applicant to make a strong commitment of time and talent for study during the formation period should be evident. If married, the spouse’s understanding and agreement to this commitment must also be evident.
- The National Directory calls for an understanding of the fundamentals of Catholic teaching. Familiarity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, both Universal and U.S., as well as a brief overview of the Bible with awareness of appropriate resources is required.
- The man and his wife, if married, must be cleared to minister to youth and at-risk adults within the diocese. This involves a criminal background check and completion of the “Ethics and Integrity in Ministry (EIM)” workshop. This must be done prior to entering the Aspirancy Period.