Deacons of the Diocese of Albany
HomeOur BishopHistory And StatisticsOfficesParishes and ApostolatesResourcesEventsLinksSite MapContact Us
Deacons: Discernment


It is a deacon’s task to reserve and distribute the Eucharist, to assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, to take Viaticum to the dying, to read the sacred scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over worship and the prayers of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, and to officiate at funeral and burial services.

Vatican Council II,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,
Lumen Gentium,
Chapter 3, Number 29.

Character & Qualities

The Character and Qualities of a man who seeks to apply as a candidate for the selection process to become a deacon encompass many factors. The first is a call by the Spirit to become a deacon, this is after he has already demonstrated a call to be a leader (active minister) in his home parish. His call to be a deacon should also be supported by his parish community and wife (if married). He should also possess the following gifts:

  • Good communication skills.

  • Balanced and prudent judgment.

  • Ability to motivate and facilitate others.

  • Be responsible.

  • Respectful and open to others – their ideas, their ethnicity, their culture, their gender, their race, and their religious tradition.

  • Ability to actively listen.

  • Psychologically/emotionally stable.

  • Grounded in the Roman Catholic Tradition.

  • Mature.

  • Prayerful and Spiritual.

  • Actively seeking faith enrichment opportunities.

  • Humble and compassionate.

  • Stable marriage (if married).

  • Willingness to maintain a celibate life style (if single or wife is deceased).

  • Be free from canonical impediments (Code of Canon Law #1041)

  • Is a person whose life reflects a sense of service and commitment to social justice issues.

Top

Eligibility

To apply to become a deacon in the Diocese of Albany, New York you must be male and have generally have completed the Formation for Ministry Program (FMP) with a positive recommendation from the FMP staff. If you believe that you do not need to attend the Formation For Ministry Program, please contact the Director of the Deacon Program at 518 453-6670.

Generally, you must be a minimum of 35 and a maximum of 62 years of age at the time of ordination. As noted underabove,your marriage must be stable. If you are single or widowed, you must be willing to maintain a celibate life style. Exceptions to this policy will be reviewed by the Director of the Deacon Program and the Deacon Acceptance Board and subject to approval by the Bishop.

Educational requirements do not require a college degree. A high school diploma or GED is required. The candidate is also required to be willing and able to undertake and successfully complete the educational, spiritual and personal components of the program.

Top

Role of the Deacon

Deacon assignments are Episcopal in nature. Only the Bishop assigns a deacon to a ministry and only he can relieve the deacon of his assignment. The assignment of a deacon has two parts – one of service and one of liturgy. The service ministry is assumed to be the highest priority, to be the sacramental presence of Jesus in his world.

Service

The service role of the deacon was envisioned by Vatican II and has since been promoted by the Church as his primary role. Just as the liturgical role is one of service at the Table, his service to the wider community, beyond the confines of his faith community, is at the heart of his ministry.

Some deacons serve in soup kitchens, others in jail ministry, others in hospitals and nursing homes, and various other service ministries. They are committed to ministries of charity and promoting social justice within their communities and places of work. They seek to give a voice to those who have none just as Jesus often did. They seek shelter for the homeless and strive to improve the living conditions of all.

Deacons also work in their parish providing needed programs such as catechesis in the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA), Baptism, Faith Formation, pre-Cana and others. Their goal is to turn these ministries of service over to parishioners, empowering them to exercise their leadership capacity. Other deacons work in Diocesan Offices providing outreach to parishes in the Diocese.

Liturgical

The liturgical role of the deacon is to assist the presider at Eucharistic Celebrations. In this capacity the deacon proclaims the Word of God and is the minister the cup of the Precious Blood. If given the facilities at ordination, he may offer the homily.

The deacon may also: lead Sunday Liturgy In The Absence Of A Priest; assists and witness marriage vows during Mass (presides – bless rings, and witness marriage vows outside of Mass), presides at Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass; baptize children outside of Mass; and, presides at Exposition Of The Blessed Sacrament. At the celebrations outside of Mass, the deacon offers the homily. When he is acting in this public ordained role, he is vested in his alb, stole and dalmatic.

Both roles provide service and reflect the true meaning of the word diaconiaservice. For more information check the “About Us” link.

Top

Wives of Deacon Candidates

Wives of Deacon Candidates are expected to support their husbands. They are also encouraged to participate in their spouse’s discernment and formation. If the wife does not support the candidate, he cannot continue in the selection process. More information on the role of the candidate and their wives can be found under the link Deacons & Wives.

Top

Information Nights

Information nights are scheduled for men who believe they have a call to service as an ordained deacon. They provide additional information on the process to become a deacon. If you are married, you are encouraged to have your wife accompany you to the presentation. Please go to the calendar in the “Events” for date and time of the information night.

Top

Deacon Application Process

The application process to become a deacon begins once the FMP program has been completed. A potential candidate should make his desire to become a deacon known to the FMP staff so the staff has the opportunity to provide an evaluation of his call and discernment to become a deacon. Upon completion of FMP, he applies and seeks admission into the Aspirant Path in Deacon Formation.

The Aspirant Path is a distinctive program that provides for a thorough discernment of a deacon vocation. Therefore, it provides an appropriate initiation into deacon spirituality; supervised pastoral experiences, especially among the poor and marginalized; and adequate assessment of the aspirant’s potential to be accepted for candidate formation, and ultimately toward ordination. The Aspirant Path also enables the Formation personnel to create an environment in which a wife of a married aspirant can be appropriately prepared to give her consent to his continuation, and more essentially, to ascertain her compatibility with her husband’s deacon vocation and eventual ministry. It provides the Director for Deacon Formation, and those involved in assisting him in the discernment process, additional time to further observe and evaluate the aspirant’s capability and readiness to be nominated to the bishop for acceptance as a candidate for ordination as a deacon.

The following is a list of documents that are required to be submitted during the application process:

  • A church certificate of Baptism, Confirmation, and if relevant, Marriage – all certificates must be issued/dated within the time of application.

  • Proof of age.

  • A completed application form, and as appropriate, a consent form regarding psychological consultation and confidentiality of consultative reports.

  • A recent photograph of the applicant and if married, his wife, for administrative and faculty identification.

  • A personal handwritten statement from the wife of a married applicant indicating her initial consent for his application and entrance into aspirant formation.

  • Letters of recommendation.

  • A recent medical certificate.

  • An official transcript of past or present academic studies, if applicable.

  • A written report of the rector of any previous house in which the candidate has spent time in formation, including "explicit reference to the evaluations of the candidate and the votes he received."

  • A background check under the auspices of the diocesan deacon office.

  • Proof of Virtus Training.

  • A letter of recommendation from the applicant’s employer.

For more information on the application process, contact the Office of the Director for Deacon Formation and/or link onto our Formation page.

Top