Bishop calls for new class of deacons in diocese

Friday, March 02, 2018 - Updated: 1:29 pm

The Diocese of Pittsburgh is initiating the nomination and application process for admitting a new class of interested and qualified Catholic men to the Deacon Formation Program, according to an announcement Feb. 27 by Bishop David Zubik.

In addition, the bishop reiterated his intent to call a class into the formation program every other year in order to prepare men to eventually serve in ordained ministry as permanent deacons and to meet the continually growing needs for their service.

“No two deacons are alike. Each one brings his own personal gifts and talents to this ministry, and yet all are united by their love for Jesus Christ and his church, and by a strong desire to serve,” Bishop Zubik said. “We currently have more than 90 permanent deacons in the diocese who are faithfully and diligently exercising their ministry in countless ways.”

In addition, 31 men who responded to the bishop’s previous calls in recent years currently make up two classes of the Deacon Formation Program.

Deacons, along with bishops and priests, constitute the three levels of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. Deacons often assist priests at Mass, preach on occasion and sometimes preside at baptisms, weddings, funeral services and other liturgical functions. In addition, their ministry is rooted in works of service and charity.

Deacons may be called upon to minister to those in hospitals and nursing homes, jails and prisons, or other institutions. They might work with immigrants, youths and young adults, those in special need, or those on the fringes of society. Many deacons work to share the faith by catechizing and evangelizing. Some deacons have administrative duties in the church.

“My hope in calling for another diaconate class is to foster the formation of men who are willing to develop their potential for servant leadership in the church and to embrace the model of Jesus Christ’s humble, loving care for others, especially those who are sick, elderly, imprisoned, hungry, poor, lonely and forgotten,” Bishop Zubik said.

The ministry of deacons can be traced to the earliest days of the church. The New Testament recounts that, when faced with the need for help in caring for the practical well-being of the faithful, the apostles prayed and designated certain men for special service to the community.

A prospective deacon should be a man of solid faith, deep spirituality, and good reputation and character. He should be fully initiated into the sacramental life of the Catholic Church and living in conformity with all of its teachings. He also should be physically, psychologically and emotionally healthy; generously willing to serve the diocesan church; and capable of assuming a leadership role and working well with a diversity of people.

Applicants must be between the ages of 30 and 59. They should have at least a bachelor’s degree and be able to financially support themselves and their family. A married applicant must be in a stable, well-established marriage and have the full support of his wife to enter the formation program, which lasts at least five years.

To begin the process, a prospective applicant’s pastor must submit a nomination on his behalf. The deadline for nominations is May 15. Applications without a nomination will not be considered.

For information, contact the Diocese of Pittsburgh Deacon Formation Program: deacons@diopitt.org or 412-456-3124.

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