The next steps for the formation of permanent deacons are now underway in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
With the decision to begin calling, forming and ordaining permanent deacons, the Diocese of Saskatoon joins many other Catholic dioceses across the world in restoring this ancient practice.
“The permanent diaconate, restored by the Second Vatican Council, in complete continuity with ancient tradition and the specific decision of the Council of Trent, has flourished in these last decades in many parts of the church — with promising results, especially for the urgent missionary work of new evangelization,” states a 1998 Vatican declaration about the Formation of Deacons.
Several men are presently discerning a call to the permanent diaconate in the Saskatoon diocese.
Four men presently journeying through this year’s diocesan Justice and Outreach Year (JOY) of Formation program have expressed interest in the permanent diaconate, says Diocesan Administrator Rev. Kevin McGee.
The JOY program has been identified as a prerequisite for those discerning the diaconate in our diocese, McGee explains. A diaconate formation committee is now determining next steps for these potential candidates in the year ahead.
It is presently envisioned that formation for deacons in the Diocese of Saskatoon will be undertaken on an individual basis, tailored to the education and experience of each candidate, says McGee. As with other holy orders, the discernment process involves both the candidate and the faith community.
The permanent diaconate is open to married men over 35 years of age, and single men over 25 years of age — but details about how permanent deacons are formed and how they function varies from diocese to diocese.
Having the JOY program as a prerequisite year reflects a strong diocesan focus on service and outreach when it comes to forming permanent deacons, McGee notes.
In 2015, when Saskatoon’s bishop announced plans to move forward with both the JOY program and the permanent diaconate in the diocese, he explained how both answer a profound need for outreach and service.
“We situated our discussion in the context of God’s call and our response,” said Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen (now Archbishop of Regina).
“We looked at different models of the diaconate, and eventually experienced a coming together of minds and hearts, as we were increasingly drawn toward a vision of the diaconate that would have as its primary focus a ministry of outreach which summoned the whole church to reach out in service and compassion to places of great need,” said Bolen in 2015.
Running from September to June, JOY offers once-a-month practical formation and engagement in justice and outreach, grounded in Catholic social teaching. Fifteen participants — men and women, lay and religious — are presently taking the inaugural year of the JOY program.
Applications are now underway for next year’s JOY program. To apply, or for more information, see the JOY website: www.joyformationprogram.com or contact Kate O’Gorman at (306) 659-5847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Those interested in discerning a call to the permanent diaconate in the diocese are invited to contact Diocesan Administrator Rev. Kevin McGee at (306) 659-5824 or email email@example.com