From staff reports
Diaconate information sessions for those discerning the vocation of permanent deacon will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 and Oct. 9, both at the Diocesan Chancery, 701 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville.
The sessions will enable those men interested in learning more about the Diaconate Formation Program to have questions answered, such as, “What is a deacon? How long is the formation program? Where are courses held? What costs are involved?”
“There is great need in a number of dioceses for deacons,” said Deacon Michael Riley, associate director of the Office of Clergy and Consecrated Life, which is hosting the information nights. “Many of the deacons we have at this time are getting older and reaching retirement age.”
Attendance at one of the sessions is a prerequisite for applying to the diaconate program. If the man is married, his wife must accompany him to the information session. It is also strongly suggested that a participant have at least one formal meeting with his parish pastor prior to attending a session.
The diaconate program was revised in the Diocese about five years ago, when Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and others in the Office of Clergy agreed that lengthening the program from four to five years would allow for better preparation. The goal for each year’s class was seven – but Deacon Riley said that 11 would be accepted into the program this month.
“Seven is our goal – but if we have men of high quality, that number can be raised,” he explained. The first class to be ordained to the permanent diaconate after the program’s revision will take place in 2020.
The program includes both classes at the Diocesan Chancery and 10 foundation courses taken at Georgian Court University, Lakewood. If a participant already has a bachelor’s degree, credit for GCU courses will earn him a master’s degree in theology.
Deacons assist in a volunteer capacity in parishes in many ways, Deacon Riley noted, including assisting the priest at Mass, helping with Sacramental preparation and arranging funeral liturgies.
“Deacons can baptize, witness marriages and bury the dead,” he said. “Many times we will visit the sick, bring Last Eucharist to the dying, and other Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy … A deacon is one there to serve.”
Deacon Riley, who ministers in the joined parishes of St. Alphonsus, Hopewell; St. James, Pennington, and St. George, Titusville, noted there are various ways to discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate.
“One thing is prayer, of course – but also having discussions about your calling with your pastor, and with other deacons in your parish or nearby parishes,” he said. “Also have discussions with your wife and family, because families do make sacrifices when the husband and dad becomes a deacon, in terms of time away.”
To register for an information session, contact Deacon Riley, 609-403-7134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.