The Office of the Diaconate provides general catechesis and information on the vocation of the deacon. It conducts the selection and admission process for applicants to diaconate formation and provides, through the Athenaeum of Ohio, a diaconate formation program for the archdiocese. The Office encourages spiritual, intellectual, personal, ministerial and communal growth among deacons and serves as a resource for placement and other personnel concerns of diocesan deacons.
Deacons are best described by who they are rather than by what they do. Men who are ordained to the diaconate promise to live out the charism of service to God’s people through the Word, Sacrament and Charity for the rest of their lives. The role of the deacon is to be a helper of the bishops and priests and to proclaim by his life the Church’s call to serve the needs of others. The deacon is the animator and promoter of what the community of faith must be: a community of service.
- Be a resident of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a Catholic male in good standing in the Catholic Church and fully initiated in the faith and, if a neophyte, must have lived the faith for three years prior to application.
- Be at least 35 but not more than 69 years of age at the time of ordination.
- May be either single or married. If single at the time of ordination the candidate will make a promise to remain celibate for the rest of his life. If married the applicant must be able to give evidence of being in a stable and growing marriage relationship, and his wife must be willing to support her husband actively through formation and ministry;
- If divorced and remarried, have obtained a declaration of nullity or a canonical dissolution of the prior marriage. If more than one declaration of nullity (including lack of form cases) or canonical dissolution of the marriage is needed (for husband & wife), the man may not be considered for the diaconate. If a man marries civilly prior to having obtained a declaration of nullity or a canonical dissolution of the prior marriage, he may not be considered for the diaconate.
- Never have procured or helped another person procure an effective abortion.
- Never have undergone an effective vasectomy nor will the applicant’s wife have undergone an effective tubal ligation.
- Never have been involved in any activity that would be unbecoming to the clerical state or that would bring scandal to the Church.
- Be keeping the needs of his family as a priority;
- Be at least a high school graduate and be able to complete the academic requirements of the formation program;
- Be physically, psychologically and emotionally sound and be able to function without the need for constant support or counseling;
- Have demonstrated ability and a willingness to minister to the needs of fellow parishioners and to the wider community;
- Have completed at least 5 of the required courses in the LPMP (or its equivalent);
- Be endorsed by his present pastor and parish pastoral council;
- He will minimally have completed the theological and ministerial requirements for obtaining a certificate in lay ministry. (Education is evaluated on an individual case basis).
The Lay Pastoral Ministry Program and the Deacon Formation Program are two entirely separate and unrelated programs. The LPMP is not a prerequisite for, nor a step in, the Deacon Formation Program. One of the application requirements for deacon formation is a certain level of theological and ministerial education. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati this education is most easily obtained through the LPMP program, but there are other schools which provide the required education as well. Therefore, men in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program are not taking classes in preparation for entry into the deacon program but to prepare themselves to minister whether they are called to the diaconate or not.
The formation classes are on a three-year cycle corresponding to the length of the program and the need to give adequate attention to the men in formation and their families. A class started in September of 2016. Another class will begin in September 2019, 2022 and so forth. Applications for the program are accepted from November through March preceding the beginning of a class in September. (Keep in mind that applicants will have obtained the minimum theological and ministerial education requirements prior to starting deacon formation.)
Selection includes the receipt of all forms, certificates, transcripts, etc. as required. Each man also takes a battery of psychological inventories and participates in an interview with a counseling professional. A home visit and extended interview with the applicant (and wife) is conducted by the deacon office staff. All this information is then evaluated by a team (both clergy and lay) and letters indicating whether a person has been accepted or not are then mailed.
A deacon is called by the Archbishop, not the local parish community. Though a man is normally assigned to his home parish by the Archbishop, at the Archbishop’s discretion he may be asked to serve somewhere else in the archdiocese where there is need for his ministry. Therefore, the question in the selection process is whether or not the archdiocese in the person of the Archbishop is calling a man to the permanent diaconate.
The Archbishop entrusts the Diaconate Office with the responsibility of discerning whether a man has the appropriate motives, abilities, attitude and personality traits which are called for by Canon Law and the Guidelines of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for permanent deacons.
No. Like the Seminary Formation Program, the Deacon Formation Program constitutes one more period of discernment. The candidate may find, as he learns more about himself and the diaconate, that ordained ministry is not his calling. Periodic evaluation of each man by his pastor and teachers in addition to regular self-evaluation allow the formation staff to assist each individual in his vocation journey. These may result in either the candidate or the formation staff suggesting that the formation relationship be terminated.
Once a man is accepted into the Deacon Formation Program there are three additional years of preparation for ordination. The formation for diaconate is not only academic but also spiritual and ministerial. A man in deacon formation meets monthly with a spiritual director. He and his wife also develop a mentoring relationship with an ordained deacon and his wife, meeting together at least two hours a month.
Candidates are installed as reader and acolyte in due time as well as being accepted as candidates for the order of deacon by the Archbishop. For each installation the students carry out ministerial projects in their parish correlating to the Word, Liturgy and Charity/Justice.
The most important thing a man in formation can do is to keep in conversation with his pastor and/or parish staff. The man needs to elicit honest feedback on his ministry. The student needs to be challenged to grow, to become accustomed to doing both self-evaluation and engaging in evaluation in the context of a ministry team or parish staff. Because he is geographically close to his parish, this is the best arena for the man in formation to try out different ministries, to continue to empower other parishioners to respond to needs for service in the community, and to sharpen his team ministry skills.
In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati a Deacon is only granted faculties to preach on weekdays and at funerals, weddings and baptisms. He may apply for permission to preach on Sundays after at least one year of ordination and successful completion of the required post-ordination courses, and the final approval of the Archbishop and his pastor.
Office of the Diaconate
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
100 East Eighth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202