Application and Selection Process
Pre-requisites: A solid catechetical foundation is an integral part of diaconal formation. Completion of the combined Adult Faith Formation/Parish Leadership program offered by the Kino Institute of the Diocese of Phoenix is required prior to entering the formation program. Applicants can be accepted after completing the first year of the Kino program if they have strong pastoral support. A pastor will need to indicate in his letter of support that he feels his applicant is capable of finishing Kino while in the Spirituality Year of formation.
Levels of Admission: It is important to understand that diaconal formation involves four stages: Inquirer, Applicant, and Aspirant, and Candidate.
- Inquirer—Recommended by Pastor—no obligation or commitment
- Applicant—Submitted an application—commitment to prayer, reading and discernment—Application is reviewed
- Aspirant—Application accepted as complete – Aspirant is evaluated by psychological, background, marriage evaluations
- Candidate—Formal Diaconal formation with advanced theological studies
Inquirer: Is an individual who has met with, written to, telephoned or otherwise communicated with an official of the Office of the Diaconate indicating a serious interest in exploring admission to the diaconate; and/or an individual nominated by his pastor. Individuals are verbally quick screened for such eligibility factors as age, marital status, residence, and ministry experience. If appropriate, the individual is provided with an information packet and put on the mailing list. The Office of the Diaconate maintains a record of the inquiry or nomination for 180 days. The general criteria for admission are described in the next section. In the six-month period prior to the formation of a new cohort, inquirers who have received a recommendation from their pastor will be interviewed (with their family) and receive assistance in completing the application. Formation meetings begin in the fall (of odd-numbered years).
The inquirer who seeks consideration for ordination to the diaconate needs to enter into dialogue with his parish community. It is the pastor who initially presents him for consideration into diaconal formation through a letter that confirms he is a practicing Catholic of good repute and in good standing.
Applicant: Is an individual who has completed and filed the forms for admission to the diaconate and has been notified in writing that the admission packet has been received. Applications are generally accepted only during the months of March through July, every odd year, unless a special arrangement has been made with the Diaconate Office. If an application is received after the July 31 deadline it cannot be considered. Applications are screened, and the admission’s packet audited by the staff in the order in which they are received. The notification of acceptance as an official applicant comes from the Formation Office.
Applicants enter into a year of prayer, spiritual reflection and discernment known as the Spirituality Year. They will engage in directed spiritual reading and reflection. They must also participate in mandatory formation events, complete the Practicum on Personal Prayer and Discernment and join a “Discernment Circle.” Applicant status is normally a one year period. Applicants are required to limit their involvement in parish ministries during this year in order to focus more specifically on prayer and spiritual growth.
General Criteria for Deacon Applicants
“…deacons must be respectable men whose word can be trusted, moderate in the amount of wine they drink and with no squalid greed for money. They must be conscientious believers in the mystery of faith. They are to be examined first, and only admitted to serve as deacons if there is nothing against them…” I Tim. 3:8-12
The applicant for the Diaconate in the Diocese of Phoenix should be a man who:
- Is committed to and lives out Gospel values of justice, charity and service.
- Has shown leadership qualities in parish/diocesan ministry for the past five years.
- Has a prayerful disposition.
- If married, is in a stable and happy marriage (2 years minimum) and whose wife and children support him in pursuing the diaconate.
- If not married, is willing to commit to celibacy.
- Situations of divorce/annulment will require special approval; in general, no more than one divorce/annulment and no children from the first marriage.
- If a convert to the faith; baptism or profession must have been made more than 5 years prior to application.
- Is living within the geographical boundaries of the Diocese of Phoenix as a permanent resident of the United States.
- Has completed the pre-requisite catechetical program of instruction—Kino Adult Faith Formation/Parish Leadership
- Is capable of college level work in theological studies and is open to spiritual and ministerial formation. (Has at least a high school diploma (no GED)).
- Can successfully pass a thorough criminal and financial background check.
- Is no younger than 30 and no older than 55 years to enter the process.
- Is capable of giving serious attention and time to theological study, spiritual formation and ministry.
- Has a stable work history (2 years min.).
- Has a positive attitude towards the Church and is flexible in adapting to the future needs of the Church.
- Is formally presented for the diaconate by his pastor who will see that he is mentored during the 5 years of formation.
- Must be physically and psychologically healthy.
- Should demonstrate grateful fidelity to all that the Church teaches.
Those men whose first language is not English may have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and receive a score that represents an acceptable fluency in English.
It is expected that applicants have been actively involved in the Church’s apostolate in their parish or Catholic agency. This may include programs of educational ministry, liturgical ministry, parish council, social ministry and so forth. Social ministries include serving the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, the imprisoned, life issues, etc.
Aspirant. Admission as an Aspirant means that the petitioner has been admitted to the (typically) year-long propaedeutic period (preparation for study or instruction). It is marked by participation in the formation meetings, practicum in outreach and justice and in a “discernment circle,” and completion of a battery of tests and interviews. Spiritual reading, reflection, prayer and discernment will continue. Admission to Aspirancy requires the following criteria:
- Application has been audited and found complete.
- Staff Screening for disqualifiers and impediments.
- Completion of the pre-requisite Kino program
- Letter of petition from the individual to the Bishop has been received.
- Letter of approval from his wife has been received if he is married.
- Letters of recommendation have been received.
- Transcripts from high school and college have been received
- Participation in required formation meetings.
- Involvement in a Discernment Circle.
- Testing and Examinations completed including but not necessarily limited to the following:
- Medical Examination
- Dental Examination
- Educational Examinations as appropriate.
- An interview with either the Associate Director of Education and Formation, or with the Director, or delegate, has been completed
- The Associate Director of Education and Formation presents an overview of each applicant to the Admission and Scrutiny Committee. This body makes a recommendation to the Director of the Office of the Diaconate regarding the disposition of each applicant.
- The Director of the Office of the Diaconate reviews the recommendation and the application to determine whether to forward it to the Bishop.
- The Bishop reviews the applicant’s file and decides whether to invite the individual to continue the discernment process as an Aspirant.
Candidate. Admission as a Candidate means that the Aspirant has been invited by the Bishop to enter a time of formal preparation for ordination that requires 3 years or more.
During this period the Candidate will receive advanced theological education and practical diaconal formation. After the first year as he progresses in discernment and formation he will be installed into the Ministry of Lector and then approximately a year later to the Ministry of Acolyte.