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Deacons of the Diocese of Albany
New Vocations to the Diaconate

Please pray before you go on:

O Lord, help me to know your will for me. Let your light shine in the depths of my heart that I may know what you want me to do with my life. Help me believe that you have a special plan for me. Lord, I know I pass through this life only once; help me decide how you want me to make a difference. Like our Blessed Mother, give me the wisdom to hear your voice and the courage to answer your call. Above all give me peace of mind and heart. I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This page contains information and links for all the information necessary to inquire about and discern a possible vocation to the ordained ministry of deacon in the Diocese of Albany and to begin the application process. The steps are:

© Logo designed by Deacon Gerald P. Rooney, (+May, 2002), Archdiocese of Boston. Used with permission.

- Pray.
- Review Requirements.
- Inquire.
- Discern.
- Apply.

Contact Us
Discernment Guide
First Step in the Discernment Process
Inquiry Sessions
Formal Discernment Session and Retreat
Application Forms
Kateri Institute
List of Spiritual Directors
List of Support Deacons by County
Formators and Diaconate Board Members
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The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States and the Diocese of Albany set forth minimum standards for admission to the deacon formation process which is open to all Catholic males who are at least 32 years of age and who will be no older than 62 years of age at the time of ordination.  In addition, participation in the two-year Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation is also required.  Refer to the Discernment Guide below for complete details.

Contact Us

Our office is available to assist you on your journey. Our contact information is as follows:

Office of Initial Diaconate Formation
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
40 North Main Avenue
Albany, New York 12203

Email: Initial_Formation@rcda.org

We are on the second floor of the south building. The receptionist wIll direct you when you sign-in.

Deacon Frank Berning, D.Min.

Director of Pastoral Planning & Director of Initial Diaconate Formation
(518) 453-6661 - Pastoral Planning Administrative Assistant.
(518) 453-6670 - Diaconate Formation Administrative Assistant Eleanor (Nel) Brickett
(518) 453-6679 - Direct line.
(518) 641-6841 - Fax

Discernment Guide

A comprehensive Guide to Prayerfully Discern a Vocation to the Diaconate is available from our office or on line.  It will take you through, step by step, the inquiry, discernment and formation phases of the process to become a deacon. 

First Step in the Discernment Process

If you feel that the Holy Spirit is calling you to ordained ministry, begin the process of discernment by gathering as much information as possible through the discernment guide, the Internet, books and publications about the Diaconate, speaking with ordained deacons and their wives, attending one or more Inquiry Sessions, and any other resources you may find.  If you are married, your wife should begin this journey with you. 

The best way to let the Office of Initial Diaconate Formation know that you are beginning the Inquiry Process is to submit an intake form.  You may begin the process before, during or after completing the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation (or equivalent).  Upon receipt of the intake form, you will be invited to schedule a meeting with the Director of Initial Diaconate Formation.  You may also call 518 453-6670 or e-mail Initial.Formation@rcda.org.

Once an intake form is submitted, the Office will be in contact with you periodically to guide you through the next steps in the Discernment Process.

Inquiry Sessions

Inquiry sessions are scheduled as needed and the dates and locations are made available through various diocesan communications channels or call the Office.  If you submitted intake form, the Formation Office will contact you whenever a session is scheduled and you have not previously attended a session.  You may attend as many Inquiry Sessions as you need to, but only one is required prior to attending a formal Discernment Session and Retreat.  If you are married, we strongly urge you to bring your wife because she is an important part of your discernment and must give her loving consent to all stages in the formation process, including the application.

Formal Discernment Session and Retreat

Before a person inquiring about the Diaconate is invited to submit an application, he must have attended at least one Information Session, which are scheduled as needed.  If an Inquirer has completed the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation (or equivalent) or is in his second year, he will be contacted about attending a one-day formal discernment session and retreat that is usually held in November.  The future dates may be found on the formation Four Year Schedule.  If married, the Inquirer’s wife must attend.

Once an Inquire indicates that he and his wife will participate in the formal discernment session and retreat, he will be mailed a package including:

The Assignment and Essay must be completed and returned via e-mail at least two weeks before the formal discernment session and retreat. 

Application Forms

Before an application may be submitted, five conditions must be met:

  • An Intake Form must have been completed and returned.
  • You must have successfully completed the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation (or equivalent) or be in your second year.
  • You must have attended at least one Inquiry Session at any time.
  • You (and your wife, if married), must have participated in a formal Discernment Session and Retreat.
  • After a meeting with the Director, you may be invited to submit an application.

The application packet is available on line for informational purposes only.

Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation

While the inquiry and discernment may begin at any time, the application and formation  paths (Aspirancy and Candidacy) may not begin until you have completed the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation program (or its predecessor, the Formation for Ministry Program, FMP) or equivalent.

IMPORTANT: If you are entering the Kateri ministry formation program solely because you want to be a deacon and this is a hurdle to be overcome, your intention is seriously flawed. 

Check out the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation web page for complete information and required forms.

List of Spiritual Directors

The first stirring of a vocation to the diaconate is often explored at a personal level and usually begins with seeking information about the deacon lifestyle and the formation process.  Here, you may initially prayerfully reflect upon the nature of your perceived call.  At this point, the spiritual dimension is critical and you should not attempt to go on without a spiritual director because discerning your call is primarily a spiritual journey.  It is personal and individual to you and therefore requires personal guidance.  A list of qualified spiritual directors is available from the Office of Initial Diaconate Formation or the link below.  Your pastor, administrator, or parish life director (PLD) and others on the parish staff are also useful resources as you discern a possible vocation.

A list of reliable Spiritual Directors may be found on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Consultation Center web site at the Spiritual Director's link.  Feel free to contact one of the Formators for the aspirancy phase for additional recommendations.

List of Support Deacons by County

The link below will provide a list of ordained and serving deacons who are available to share their own formation journey and their deacon lifestyle experiences: List of Deacons Supporting Vocation Inquiries

Formators and Diaconate Board Members

Formators are a group of dedicated women and men who assist in the recruitment and formation of deacons from the time they inquire about the diaconate, through aspirancy and candidate formation, and finally ordination.

The Diaconate Board serves the bishop in an advisory capacity for the selection and formation process in the Diocese of Albany.

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