Permanent Diaconate: The Program

The decision to move forward with a program of studies and formation for the Permanent Diaconate is the result of a number of years of discernment and discussion among clergy and laity during the period of preparation for our Diocesan Pastoral Plan which was inaugurated in 2010.[1]  During the many months of preparation for the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, in surveys and in the focus groups, a desire for the Permanent Diaconate was expressed and, indeed, individual men approached the Diocese about discerning this vocation. Although not stated explicitly in the finished report[2] on the Diocesan Pastoral Plan that the Permanent Diaconate would be a goal, there was much said about expanding vocational outreach and furthering the new ecclesial structures advocated by the Second Vatican Council.[3]  As discernment continued in our Diocese, other dioceses in British Columbia were also bringing the question of the Diaconate forward as a possibility.[4]  During this Year of Faith (2012-2013), concrete proposals for such a program were formulated through our Council of Priests and a small committee was struck to guide the process under our Vicar General.

It soon became evident that certain challenges relative to the Diaconate would need to be met in our Diocese. First of all, even though there have been a few Permanent Deacons working in the Diocese in years past, there has not been a strong tradition of Deacons as such, nor has there been a Diaconate Formation Program in our Diocese. Another concern is the lack of resource capacity for such a program in our local Church. Furthermore, both clergy and laity would need catechesis on the Diaconate itself and how it would function within our community and what pastoral tasks it would undertake.

I am very grateful that our Diocese has found a way to meet these and other challenges by designing a program that is modest in scope and cost effective. Information on the Permanent Diaconate Program including application forms have been distributed to parishes. A Discernment Committee will review the applications and make recommendations to the Bishop for acceptance. A Formation Team in the Diocese will oversee the spiritual formation component of the program and a four year academic program available on line from Newman Theological College in Edmonton will be undertaken in the Diocese. Since the Permanent Diaconate is also open to men who are married, wives are encouraged to participate in the program to the degree that they are able. There can be no doubt that married men, living their marriages as a Sacrament, bring the gifts of fidelity and permanency to the Diaconate, much to the benefit of the Church. Pope John Paul II has stated: “By facing in a spirit of faith the challenges of married life and the demands of daily living, they strengthen the family life not only of the Church community but of the whole of society.”[5]

 

[1] Pastoral Letter: Diocesan Pastoral Plan 2010-2015
[2] Report of the Diocese of Victoria Pastoral Planning Committee – Mission, Priorities, Goals and Actions
[3] Pastoral Letter: Religious Education and Vocations p. 10ff; Stewardship, Administration and Finance p. 13
[4] Archdiocese of Vancouver inaugurated a program in February, 2011
[5] John Paul II, Address to the Permanent Deacons of the United States, 19 September, 1987, m.5.


For more information about the Permanent Diaconate Program, please contact the Pastoral Centre at (250) 479-1331 or email chancery@rcdvictoria.org.

~ Download the Bishop's Pastoral Letter here


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Last Updated

Oct 7, 2017

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