The Diaconal Formation Program
The “heart” of the Deacon is best expressed in the scripture, “…I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22: 27C) The Holy Order of the Diaconate came into existence at the very beginnings of the Church, and recently has been renewed in the Diocese of New York. The purpose of this program is to nurture and instruct those persons in whom the “heart of a Deacon” has been discerned, and to equip them for ministry.
The Diaconal Formation Program is a four-year course of study, and consists of a variety of experiences, both academic and practical. The core of the program follows the curriculum of the Education for Ministry Program from Sewanee, the Seminary of the South, which covers both Old and New Testaments, Church History, Spirituality and Theology, and how we integrate them into our daily life and faith. Other courses include Homiletics, Leadership Styles and Parish Dynamics, Ethics, Liturgics, the Book of Common Prayer and Pastoral Care. One unit of Clinical Pastoral Education or Clinical Pastoral Training is required as is a Field Placement.
As of September, 2006, the program fees are $600 tuition per year and approximately $250 per year for books and materials. The cost of education for ministry is additional to this, as is the fee for Clinical Pastoral Education. Financial aid is available.
Postulants and Candidates for the Diaconate meet together once a month, on the third Saturday of each month from September through April, from 8:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. There is an annual retreat for all participants in May. The Saturday meetings are held at St. Thomas Church, Mamaroneck, which is in Region II and easily accessible by car or train.
Ordination to the Diaconate occurs at the completion of the third year, if all requirements up to that point have been successfully met. The fourth year is spent completing the Education for Ministry course and in continuing formation as newly-ordained Deacons. The group for newly ordained Deacons continues to meet for a second year after ordination.
The key word in describing this program is formation. It is more than an accumulation or completion of study. The program exists to form the ministry of those who are called to this Order, and to nurture them as they seek not only education but understanding of what it is to be a Deacon.