Source: Diocese of Sacramento, Office of the Permanent Diaconate
The first deacons are described in the Acts of the Apostles and referred to in the writings of St. Paul. In Acts 6:1-6 seven men of good reputation among the Christian community are chosen to assist the apostles in the care of the community’s needs.
Deacons were relied upon as leaders and enablers of local apostolic communities, as related in several places both in the New Testament and writings of the Fathers of the Church. Deacons assisted the episcopal ministry of the early Church, acting as the bridge between the bishop and the local community’s needs.
Deacons were examples of loyal faith and dedicated service to the Church, especially St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, and St. Francis of Assisi.
The restoration of the order of Permanent Deacons, seen as vital to the life of the Church by the bishops of Vatican Council II, has been implemented and enhanced by Pope Paul VI, the National Catholic Conference of Bishops, and Pope John Paul II.
In the Sacramento Diocese, the restored Order of Permanent Diaconate began in 1977 with the first class of permanent deacons ordained in1981. The Permanent Diaconate has received the encouragement and support of the past and present bishops of our Sacramento Diocese: Bishop Alden Bell, Bishop Francis Quinn, Auxiliary Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, Auxiliary Bishop Richard Garcia and Bishop William Weigand.
The terms “Deacon” and “Diaconate” derive from the Greek word diakonia which means “service” or “ministry.” A deacon, then, is ordained by the Church for service. But what kind of service?
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church speaks of three areas of diaconal service: Ministry of Charity, Ministry of the Word, and Ministry of Liturgy.
Ministry of Charity
Ministry of the Word
Ministry of Liturgy
Deacons: A Special Role to Play in the World
There is no simple answer to the question “Am I called to be a deacon?” However, we believe that the person of faith through personal prayer, competent spiritual direction and recognition that the Church has the obligation to discern if such a vocation is truly present can discover God’s will.
Criteria for entry
The Formation Program, which starts with a propaedeutic or aspirancy period of a year, includes both, the aspirant and his wife. During this time emphasis is given to the discernment of the call to the diaconate. To aid this process of discernment, the study and reflection of basic Catholic teachings, Catholic Spirituality, pastoral ministry and specifically, diaconal service, are emphasized.
The aspirancy period is followed by a four-year course of studies and pastoral experience (see below). This program is designed to equip the aspirant to the diaconate with the spiritual, theological, liturgical and pastoral skills for ministry as a deacon in the Church.
Preliminary Formation and Year of Aspirancy
Basic religious formation through Diocesan Lay Formation Institute or other equivalent college programs prior to admission. After admission the aspirant follows a one-year program of discernment and study, prior to the four-year formation program.
History of Spirituality I
Ministry Skills I
Church History I
Liturgy of the Hours
Ministry to the Poor
History of the Catholic Church in America
Rites of Christian Burial
Religion and Culture
Sacrament of Marriage
Critical Life Issues
Sacrament of Holy Orders
The Role of the Deacon in Catechesis and Evangelization
Ecumenical and Interreligious dialogue
Mary and the Church