PERMANENT DIACONATE"Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."
|Welcome to the web site of the Permanent Diaconate of the Diocese of Fresno!
The Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Fresno began in 1998 and has expanded with four classes of deacons having been ordained so far. It takes 5 ½ years to properly form a deacon in our diocese – 2 years of Lay Formation and 3 ½ years of Diaconate Formation. In the journey to the permanent diaconate, an Aspirancy year is required. It is a time of intense and prayerful discernment of a vocation to the diaconate. According to our new model, the Aspirancy Year is done concurrently with the second year of Lay Formation.
Lay Formation classes are offered by the Office of Formation and Evangelization; Diaconate Formation classes are offered by the Diaconate Office. Lay Formation classes are offered in several locations throughout the Diocese. Please contact the Office of Formation and Evangelization for more information at (559) 488-7474. Men who have previously completed the New Wine Program/Vino Nuevo Programs, and who are interested in entering the Diaconate Formation Program should contact the Diaconate Office. Diaconate Formation is only offered in English at this time. Men must be at least 35 years of age on ordination day and must not exceed 59 years of age when they start the Aspirancy Year.
If you sense that God is calling you to be a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fresno, your first step is to contact your pastor. With his affirmation, you may contact us at the Pastoral Center, in Fresno, at (559) 493-2840. Prior to receiving an application, you and your wife (if married), will need to meet with myself and Deacon Chuck for an initial interview. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You may call outside these hours and leave a message. We will return your call during those two days. You may also email me at [email protected], or the Assistant Director of Formation, Deacon Charles Reyburn, at [email protected]. For additional general information on the Permanent Diaconate, in general, please click on the following link:
Yours in Christ,
Deacon John Sousa, Director of the Permanent Diaconate
DEACONS: SEND US PICTURES OF YOU IN YOUR PARISH MINISTRIES!If you have pictures of your participation in various parish ministries, please email them to the diaconate office. Please identify any other persons included in the picture, as well as the activity, the location, and the date. We would like to begin a photo collage of examples of what ministries and activities our deacons are involved in.
|What Is A Permanent Deacon?
Since the beginning of Christianity, the diaconate has been primarily a ministry of love and justice. As members of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, they proclaim the Gospel and preach at liturgical services; they lead the community in prayer, and conduct baptisms and witness marriages, and they address the needs of the community in an active ministry of outreach and service to others. Pope John Paul II described diaconal ministry as “. . the Church’s service sacramentalized.” Pope Paul VI offered the vision that the Permanent Diaconate is a “. . .driving force for the Church’s service.” The word “deacon” has its origin in the Greek word for “servant.” Since the renewal of the Permanent Diaconate by the Church Fathers at Vatican II, we have come to understand that deacons have a unique expression of ordained ministry, called to “pour out their own lives in service to others.” Deacons help the Church link the two greatest commandments of Christ: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As explained by nationally-recognized author Deacon William Ditewig, the Church sees the deacon as “. . a sacramental witness to Christ within the community, and the deacon also serves as a prophetic reminder to all the baptized of their own responsibility to care for others.” Most Permanent Deacons are married and also have family responsibilities, a consideration Council participants saw as a blessing for the Church, as deacons would be a direct presence of their sacred ministry outside the church environment. By his call to ordained ministry, a deacon is engaged in his ministry at home, at work, or wherever he is participating in activities not directly related to the church, as an example of an authentic witness and teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Deacon Ditewig concludes: “It is precisely in his leadership and presence outside formal ecclesial structures, that the deacon can often enable and empower others to exercise their own . . . responsibilities as Christians.”
Deacons In Scripture
Within the letter to Timothy (3:8-10, 12-13), we read of the qualifications for men being considered for diaconal ministry in the early Church: “Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money: they must hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
|WHEN WILL THE NEXT DIACONATE FORMATION CLASS BEGIN?
In coordination with the Lay Formation Institute (LFI) offered by our diocesan Office of Formation and Evangelization, new diaconate formation classes are scheduled to begin every three years. Men who are discerning whether they are genuinely called to a diaconal vocation must meet minimum requirements: have successfully participated in a lay ministry formation program such as LFI; not be more than 59 years of age as of September, 2018; be active in one or more parish ministries; have a letter of recommendation from their current pastor; have received all their sacraments of initiation; wife is agreeable to full participation in diaconal journey beginning with the Aspirancy year, and have no canonical impediments to ordination. Applications will be available starting October, 2017. For further information, contact the Permanent Diaconate Office by clicking on the “Contact Us” link. Normal diaconate office hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Journey To The Diaconate Begins With Participation In The Lay Formation Institute
Inquirers begin their journey for discernment as to whether they have a diaconate vocation by registering with the Office of Formation and Evangelization to participate in the Lay Formation Institute (LFI). If you have previously successfully completed the New Wine or Vino Nuevo programs, this requirement does not apply. Applications for LFI are available NOW from the Office of Formation and Evangelization at the Pastoral Center in Fresno. LFI is a multi-year catechesis program in the Catholic faith, and is conducted by interactive remote teleconferencing classes at specific parish centers in the diocese. These are located in cities near you:
Fresno (English and Spanish presentations)
Visalia (English and Spanish presentations)
Bakersfield (English presentations only)
Merced (Spanish presentations only)
Hanford (Spanish presentations only)
For further information, you may call (559) 488-7474 for Grace Alston, or you may email her at [email protected]. Yearly tuition for LFI is currently around $300. Completed applications require a letter of recommendation from your pastor. Accepted applicants will also have a personal interview with the School of Ministries Coordinator. Time commitments are weekly classes, September through May for two (2) hours, plus homework assignments. Applicants will need an active email for class participation.
10 COMMANDMENTS FOR DEACONS
(Article reprinted from The Link, February, 1976)