Candidate Formation

Candidate Formation


Pastoral Formation of Candidates

Summer Service Project

A permanent deacon is ordained to serve as an icon of Christ the Servant. He is a minister of the Word, of the Altar and of Charity. To enrich the practical experience of those being formed as deacons the Permanent Diaconate Division offers greater opportunities to serve in a ministry of charity. Thanks to the good help of Catholic Human Services, men in diaconate formation spend twelve hours each summer with hands on experience at an Archdiocesan ministry of charity. This hands-on practical experience is of tremendous benefit to our future deacons.

Pastoral Internships

During the final three years of candidacy, each candidate will have three parish assignments outside their home parish.  During these internships pastors/supervisors will be asked to involve the candidates in the life of the parish to give the candidate a wide variety of pastoral experiences before ordination. The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons states that:

'During formation, engagement in a wide variety of' pastoral placements, 'at least on a limited basis, will not only give the candidate a greater awareness of the needs and mission of the [diocesan] Church, but will assist in the discernment and development of his own … talents and gifts.' These pastoral experiences 'should provide an opportunity for theological reflection, as well as occasions to translate' intellectual knowledge into pastoral service. (ND §228) 

Pastors should be willing to mentor and reflect with the candidate throughout the internship.  A pastor is encouraged to involve a deacon and/or parochial vicar to assist him and the candidate.

Intellectual Formation of Candidates

All candidates must attend graduate level courses run by the School of Theological Studies. Candidates must demonstrate a passing knowledge of the material presented in the classroom and pass the Diaconate Competency Exams in January of Year V. If a candidate meets the requirements of STS and have proven themselves capable, they are encouraged to pursue the Master of the Arts Degree in Theology offered and assessed by the School of Theological Studies.

The courses are held every Monday evening from 6:30-9:30pm. Homiletics and Liturgy occur on Wednesday Evenings. 

Year I

  • A Critical Introduction to Sacred Scripture
  • Fundamental Theology
  • Foundations of Homiletics (Spring semester, alternating Wednesdays) 

Year II

  • Synoptic Gospels
  • Letters of Saint Paul
  • Homiletics Practicum (Both semesters, alternating Wednesdays)

Year III

  • Church History
  • Christology
  • Homiletics Practicum (Both semesters, alternating Wednesdays)

Year IV

  • Ecclesiology
  • Theology of Grace and Sacraments
  • Moral Theology
  • Homiletics Practicum (Fall semester, alternating Wednesdays)

Year V

  • Liturgical Practicum (Fall semester, Mondays)
  • Johannine Literature
  • Homiletics Practicum (Both semesters, alternating Wednesdays)

Operating Procedures

“Intellectual formation is a necessary dimension of diaconal formation insofar as it offers the deacon a substantial nourishment for his spiritual life and a precious instrument for his ministry. It is particularly urgent today, in the face of the challenge of the new evangelization to which the Church is called at this difficult juncture of the millennium. Religious indifference, obscuring of values, loss of ethical convergence, and cultural pluralism demand that those involved in the ordained ministry have an intellectual formation which is complete and serious.”
– Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, para. 79

“The fundamental courses at least are to conclude with an examination, and at the end…there is to be a final comprehensive examination.”
– Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, para. 82


Using the means of assessment which the professor employs, faculty will provide a written mid-semester and end of semester evaluation of every candidate.

Failure Policy

If a candidate fails a course, he will be afforded the opportunity for one retake examination. If the candidate fails the retake examination, he may continue for one semester. If he fails that semester and retakes the examination, he is liable for dismissal. If he passes that semester, he must make up the first failure before beginning the next year of formation. He accomplishes this by taking Independent Study with a professor.

Academic Assistance

Professors will gladly assist any candidate who needs help in perfecting his study habits and skills, as well as anyone who is having difficulty with any course. The expectation is that the candidate would approach the professor if assistance is needed.


A candidate cannot be proposed for ordination unless he has successfully completed all the courses as well as the comprehensive examination.



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