Applications being accepted for the permanent diaconate

Upcoming meetings to offer information

DUBUQUE — The first deacons were instituted to assist the apostles in the mission of the church (see Acts 6:1-6). They were sent to serve as Jesus served, and today deacons carry out this service through the tri-fold munera of liturgy, word and charity. The deacons were very active in the early church, often the bishop’s right-hand man, frequently given the responsibilities of financial management along with the more important service; distribution of food and alms to the needy. By the Middle Ages, the importance of the deacon grew. Of the 37 men elected pope between 432-684, 34 were chosen from the diaconate. History tells us that by the eighth century the diaconate shifted from being permanent to transitional, becoming a preparation stage to the priesthood. The Council of Trent sought to restore the permanent deacon, but this restoration did not occur until Vatican II, 400 years later. In May 1968, the U.S. bishops petitioned the Holy See to ordain permanent deacons. Within the petition, the reasons include; “To aid in extending needed liturgical and charitable service to the faithful in both large urban and small rural communities” and “To provide an impetus and source for creative adaptions of diaconal ministries to the rapidly changing needs of our society.” On Nov. 15, 1978, 15 men were ordained as the first permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Today, Archbishop Jackels grants permission to begin the process for Deacon Class XXI.

This vocational call, answering God’s call, requires prayer, communication and dedication. For a man who is married, such a commitment must be made in conjunction with his wife and family. A man discerning a call to the permanent diaconate must be a faithful, practicing Catholic; have a committed prayer life; and be acting out his baptismal call to service.

The formation process for the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Dubuque is a five-year journey. The first year is the application process as well as class sessions related to personal inquiry and vocational discernment. Next is a year of aspirancy which is followed by three years of candidacy which focus on the four dimensions of formation: 1)human, 2)spiritual, 3)intellectual and 4)pastoral. Formation classes include study of Scripture, systematic theology, Christology, ecclesiology, church history and more. Diaconal formation classes meet twice a month on average on Saturdays from August through May. Classes are held in Waterloo, the geographic center of the archdiocese, from 8:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Church law requires that a man be 35 years old at the time of ordination to be a permanent deacon. Thus, the Permanent Diaconate Formation Board has set the age guidelines for men wishing to apply to be between the ages of 32 and 58. The board also set five-year stability guidelines for application: five years in their marriage (if married), five-years in their job, and five-years in their parish/community. Variances from these guidelines are considered on a case-by-case basis. Wives are invited and urged to attend all formation classes with their husbands to help support their first vocation of marriage. Inevitably, each formation class forms a wonderful bond of unity and friendship. The application process is now open and will close March 31, 2020. Twelve informational meetings are to be held throughout the diocese. A schedule of the meeting dates, locations and times follows:

• Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at St. Cecilia, Ames

• Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at Immaculate Conception, Elma

• Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at St. Patrick, Anamosa

• Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary, Waverly

• Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary, Greene

• Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, 6:30 p.m. at Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, Dyserville

• Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at St. Mary, Marshalltown

• Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at St. Jude, Cedar Rapids

• Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament, Waterloo

• Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, – site to be finalized

• Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at St. Benedict, Decorah

• Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, 6:30 p.m. at Resurrection, Dubuque

Applications for the permanent diaconate must be requested through the applicant’s pastor. For more information, please contact Deacon John Stierman at 800-876-3546 ext. 525 or email DBQCPD@DBQARCH.org.