The core of diaconal formation is the four-year process leading to ordination, although ordination may be delayed if the Directors perceive a need for additional formation.
Year 1 – Spirituality Year
The focus of the Spirituality Year is twofold:
- To begin a deep spiritual journey that will be strengthened each year of formation and continue throughout the man’s life as a deacon.
- To help the man develop the habits and skills necessary for formation and that will serve him in his life of diaconal ministry.
During the Spirituality Year the man is considered an Aspirant. He is taught and challenged to discern the call he feels to diaconal ministry. Also during this year, the Church begins to evaluate and discern whether his call seems genuine and whether or not he possesses the qualities necessary for diaconal ministry.
During this first year, Academic and Pastoral Classes are offered. The man begins his study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Church History and is introduced to a basic understanding of Philosophy. He also begins his Pastoral formation by learning the parts of the Mass, serving at the altar, and learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
His Spiritual Formation begins with an understanding of Ignatian Spirituality. He is introduced to sin and virtue and the universal call to holiness. There is an emphasis on developing a life of prayer.
Toward the end of the year, those who are asked to continue are called to Candidacy formally by the Archbishop in a special ritual Mass and they are now called Candidates. The discernment and evaluation processes continue throughout formation.
Each of the successive three years follows the pattern established in the first year. That is, there are classes in intellectual, pastoral, and spiritual formation.