Called to be a permanent deacon?

The Diocese of Camden is seeking men who feel they are being called to serve as permanent deacons. Successful candidates will begin the six-year formation program in the fall.

In the Catholic Church, there are three roles in ordained ministry: bishop, priest and deacon. All are members of the clergy.

A permanent deacon is called by God to serve in the manner of Jesus and is ordained as a sacramental sign of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.”

Deacons proclaim the Gospel and, on occasion, preach. They can preside at the Liturgy of the Hours and other prayer services. Deacons can baptize, witness marriages, and conduct wake and grave-site services.

As a leader in charity, the deacon identifies the needs in the parish, and then coordinates the efforts and resources to address those needs. He ministers to the needs of families, single parents, students, the aged, the infirmed, the imprisoned, and those who suffer from poverty or addictions.

Knowing those needs, the deacon brings them to the altar at Mass so that they can be lifted up to God in the Prayers of the Faithful.

The six-year formation program includes study, prayer and active service. Two 13-week courses will be offered each semester in the fall and winter along with two six-week courses in the spring. The candidate will have an additional one-evening formation meeting each month. A day of reflection will be offered each semester and a weekend retreat will be held each year. If married, the candidate’s wife must attend the days of reflection and the retreat, and she is encouraged to attend the courses. The costs of the program are paid by the diocese.

To be considered for acceptance into the program, the man should be between 29 and 59 years of age, have sound moral character, be mature in faith, and have a sense of vocation to service.

He should have already demonstrated active service and involvement among the people of his parish and community, and be attuned to the needs and life of the church and family life. He should be able to offer 10-12 hours per week to the program and to the diaconate when ordained.

If married, he must have the support of his wife. Single men must remain single once they are ordained as permanent deacons.

If you missed the recent information meetings, there is still time to apply. To enter the process, the candidate must be recommended by his pastor. For more information, contact the Office of the Diaconate at 856-583-2858.

The candidate should make his interest in the Permanent Diaconate Program known to his pastor as quickly as possible and send the following information to the Office of the Diaconate at Diocese of Camden, 631 Market Street, Camden, NJ 08102: Name, age, address, phone numbers, parish and marital status.

Decaon Leo McBlain is director of the Office of the Diaconate, Diocese of Camden.

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