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Deacon Formation Details

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Deacon Formation Details

We consider it our privilege as well as our mission to, Help nurture and lead the deacon candidate during his journey through his own human, spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral formation.

…deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons…Deacons may be married only once and must manage their children and their households well. Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus. (1Tm 3:8-13)

What is the Ministry of the Deacon?

"By ordination, particularly and officially committed to service, the deacon is to inspire, promote and help coordinate the service that the whole Church must undertake in imitation of Christ. He has a special responsibility to identify to the Church those who are in need and particularly those who are without power of voice at the margins of our society. Among such people, the deacon is to speak about Christ and to offer them the Church’s varied assistance. But in the Church, he is also to speak about the needy, to articulate their needs, and to inspire and mobilize the whole community’s response. He thus becomes a representative figure in whom the Church reaches out to the needy and the needy challenge the Church."

This ministry of love is also a ministry of justice that aims not only at meeting needs but also at addressing their structural and institutional causes. Action on behalf of social justice is thus an integral part of the deacon's ministry of love. He must not only assist the powerless and speak for the voiceless, but also help them find their own voice and to assume power over their lives. This prophetic role of social criticism and reform can be carried out in specific ministries, but deacons who have secular occupations also have many opportunities to carry it out in their everyday work."

National Conference of Catholic Bishops: Permanent Deacons in the United States – Guidelines on Their Formation and Ministry – 1984 Revision, pars 37 – 38.

General Requirements

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Diaconate History and the Diocese of Oakland

September 29, 1964, the bishops attending the Second Vatican Council voted to restore the ancient office of the permanent diaconate as a response to contemporary circumstances and needs. On June 18, 1967, Pope Paul VI issued, in "motu proprio," the "General Norms for Restoring the Permanent Diaconate in the Latin Church." Then during the early 1970’s, U.S. bishops approved the ordination of married deacons and today the United States has more permanent deacons than anywhere else in the world.

The move to establish the diaconate in Oakland originated with the Priests Senate in 1973. Though the Black Catholic Caucus promoted the idea it was hoped that the diaconate would provide a means of creating greater minority representation in leadership positions in the diocese. A study committee was formed and the Senate and Bishop Begin approved the program in June 1974.

On October 4, 1975 the first diaconate class was accepted for candidacy at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. Formation was completed under the direction of Fathers James Schexnayder and Dan Danielson. On February 17, 1978 the first deacon class of twenty-seven men was ordained. The Diocese of Oakland has ordained six additional classes since then and currently has over 100 deacons providing distinguished service to the community.

Deacon Wife

The wife of a deacon candidate plays a vital role in supporting his formation. She is also strongly encouraged to participate as often as possible during her husband's formation process to help give her a better understanding of the role of the deacon in the Church and community he will be serving. She must be included in the screening process as well as in the formulation of the diaconal assignment. The candidate’s wife must sign a personal letter to the bishop indicating that she understands the responsibilities her husband will assume upon ordination and that she approves of her husband's request for ordination, without any reservation.

Partial list of Diaconate Candidate Qualifications:

    • Practicing Catholic for 10 years or more
    • Must have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, and be validly married by the Church, if applicable
    • At least 35 years of age but not older than 55 years of age at the time of application
    • Good physical and mental health
    • Gainfully employed or retired
    • Sufficient time to devote to the formation program
    • If married, both oral and written support, endorsement and consent of his wife and family. His wife should be wiling to participate in the formation process
    • Demonstrated leadership ability. Capacity to fulfill the social justice ministry component of the deacon's ministry
    • A commitment to celibacy is required of non-married candidates, as well as widowers


    Formation Process

    Spiritual FormationJoe Gourley Rite of Lector

    • Discernment Retreat
    • Candidacy Retreat
    • Ministry of Justice and Charity
    • Proclamation
    • Prayer and Spirituality
    • Social Teaching
    • Institution of the Reader
    • Deacon as Icon of Jesus the Servant


    Doctrinal Formationbible chalice paten

    • Old Testament
    • New Testament
    • Sacramental Theology
    • Liturgy
    • Ecclesiology
    • Canon Law
    • Homiletics
    • Ethics and Morality
    • Ecumenism


    Pastoral Formation2011 Rite of Lector

    • Basics of Pastoral Ministry
    • Boundaries
    • Charity and Justice Internship
    • Institution of Acolyte
    • Ministry in the Diocese of Oakland
    • Multicultural Ministry and Mission
    • Liturgical Internship


    Current Formation News

    15 new deacons with Bishop Barber

    The deacon class of 2013 began in August 2008 with a series of discernment workshops.  As with all vocations, a man considering the Permanent Diaconate must discern God’s will for his life and whether he is being called to be a deacon.  During the Inquiry stage, workshops providing tools for discernment are conducted prior to application to the program.  These workshops are for the inquirer and his wife, if married.  The process to become a deacon moves through stages:  Inquirer, Applicant, Aspirant, Candidate and finally Ordination.

    The class completed their Aspirancy period in June 2010.  Candidacy began in September 2010.  Fifteen men were ordained on November 16, 2013.  Please pray for these men as they continue their ministry as Permanent Deacons.

    For more information or if you would like your name placed on the waiting list for notification when a new class begins, please call 510-267-8348