What is the Diaconate?
The Order of Diaconate is an ancient order of the Church re-instituted as a permanent office by Pope Paul VI at the suggestion of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). While every priest is ordained a deacon as a necessary step towards ordination to the priesthood, ordination to the diaconate does not have to be transitory. Many men are ordained to what is called the permanent diaconate and serve as deacons the rest of their lives.
Deacons are men who love God and love the Church; they feel called to serve in a more committed way. 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 Diaconate Formation Program in the Diocese of Bismarck
In the Diocese of Bismarck, men have been called forth to be ordained as permanent deacons since 1981. The Diaconate Office assists men who are studying to become deacons in their formation through a five year program of academic instruction, spiritual and human development as well as practical pastoral experience. Upon completion, each man is prepared to minister as a deacon in parish and other ministerial situations, to preach the Gospel, to serve the poor and assist during the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy of the Church.
Applicants to the Diaconate Program come from various professional and academic backgrounds. A man must be between 30 and 55 years of age to apply. The wives of married applicants attend all of the formation sessions alongside their husband. They are a great support to their husbands during formation as well as after ordination during their ministry.
Other criteria include:
-Be a practicing Catholic layman who is a fully initiated Catholic in good standing with the Church
-Have a high school diploma or equivalent
-Be actively involved in ministry in the parish
-Be economically stable and self sufficient financially
-Be physically and emotionally healthy and free of any substance dependency
-If married, be in a stable marriage of at least five years and have the support and agreement of his wife and family to pursue a diaconal vocation-if unmarried (being single or a widower), to be living in a lifestyle consistent with the call to the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church.
What does a deacon do?
The Bishop ordains men as deacons so that his daily work, and the daily work of his priests, can be carried out with greater effect. Deacons therefore assist at Eucharistic liturgies, perform baptisms, witness marriages, preside at funeral rites, give benediction during eucharistic adoration, teach the faith on various levels and serve as chaplains in hospitals and prisons. Deacons assist with many projects that directly help the poor and are also very present to the sick and dying in their hour of need. Because of the vibrant presence of deacons in the Diocese of Bismarck, more people are encountering Christ each day and are receiving the message of hope and healing that he offers.
To request additional information or to apply to the Diaconate Formation Program, contact:
Director, Office of the Diaconate
520 N. Washington St.
PO Box 1137
Bismarck, ND 58502-1137