By RENEE WEBB
Men who are interested in learning more about the permanent diaconate are encouraged to attend one of the inquiry nights to be held throughout the Diocese of Sioux City.
“This is a year that men can apply to the deacon formation program,” said Deacon Tim Murphy, director of deacon personnel, who noted the next year for applications will not come until 2020. “There will be four inquiry nights around the diocese for men to find out more about becoming and being a deacon.”
The first night is planned for 7 p.m. on Nov. 7 at Holy Trinity Parish-Corpus Christi (in the building across from the church) in Fort Dodge, a second is set for 7:30 p.m., Nov. 15, in the parish center of St. Mary Parish in Storm Lake, a third night will be held at 7 p.m., Nov. 20, at the parish hall of Blessed Sacrament-Holy Cross Parish in Sioux City and a fourth night is slated for 7 p.m., Nov. 21, in the family room at St. Lawrence Church in Carroll.
“We’re planning to begin a cohort in formation in August 2018, so we’re especially interested to meet men who are thinking seriously about applying to the program now,” said Deacon David Lopez, director of deacon formation. “That said, we’re open to anyone with an interest in the diaconate, even just to learn more about it.”
There is no cost, nor obligation to apply for the diaconate program, to attend.
Deacon Murphy said even those who wish to encourage others may go to the inquiry meetings. Wives are welcome to attend.
Men must 35 years old to be ordained, he noted, so those who are 30 by this May could qualify to begin formation in 2018. Given that some men still have young families, Deacon Murphy said a deacon candidate with four young children will be on hand with his wife at the Carroll meeting to talk about how the process is working for them.
“Deacons are ordained ministers – clergy – so they have several important roles in the church,” said Deacon Lopez. “In their parish ministry, deacons serve at Mass, preach homilies, baptize, lead funeral vigils and burials, and witness marriage.”
Many deacons, noted Deacon Murphy, are involved in catechizing and sacramental prep, serving in a variety of ministries such as the religious education program, RCIA, marriage preparation and baptismal prep.
With a call to serve others, deacons often visit the sick, those in prison and help the poor in a variety of ways. Charitable works often go beyond the parish.
“Deacons must be ‘on fire’ for the faith and desire to evangelize especially in the growing ranks of fallen-away Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated ‘nones’ or spiritual but not religious,’” said Deacon Lopez.
As the number of priests in active ministry declines and Ministry 2025 pastoral planning continues to unfold, it is anticipated deacon roles in parishes will increase.
“They already are more and more,” noted Deacon Murphy. “And because many of our deacons are in their 60s and 70s now, we will have a great need for new deacons before 2025.”
There is always more to be done for Christ and the church, added Deacon Lopez, who said there is also a need for more lay leaders, and deacons can help recruit, train and support them.
“The most common thing people say about how they got started in the diaconate is that they felt called to ‘do more’ in the church,” said Deacon Lopez. “If that’s you, please attend one of these inquiry night. If you’ve felt God stirring in your heart recently, or if your appetite for prayer and for knowing more about the faith has been growing, these also might be signs of a possible vocation.”
A call or e-mail regarding your attendance at an upcoming inquiry night may be helpful to the deacons for a sense of who may attend, but it is not necessary. If you have questions or wish to notify them of your attendance, email Deacon Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Deacon Lopez at email@example.com.
If you are unable to attend one of the informational evenings, but wish to learn more about applying for the diaconate, please contact Deacon Murphy or Lopez as soon as possible. The deadline to submit an application for the diaconate is mid-February.