The road to the Diaconate begins with a required master’s degree typically either in Theology or Lay Pastoral Ministry, which is designed course work taken over a three to four-year period, but no more than five years. Most Deacons who are ordained in the Cincinnati Archdiocese obtain this degree at the Athenaeum – St Mary’s Seminary. Following the completion of a master’s degree begins Diaconate formation. Also held at the Athenaeum – St Mary’s Seminary, it is a three-year program, which includes a wider variety of course work; Theology, Church History, Philosophy, sacramental instruction, homiletics, music, liturgical instruction, biblical studies, pastoral ministry, and prayer instruction.
Deacons are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, morning and evening. Upon ordination, they are granted authority to assist a priest at Mass, which includes the proclamation of the Gospel readings and delivery of homilies. They also have faculties to administer the sacraments of baptism and matrimony. They can assist at funeral Mass and conduct the graveside ceremony following a funeral Mass. The vows of a Deacon include, of course, obedience to the Bishop, but also include a vow never to remarry should their wife precede them in death. Deacons at the time of ordination not married take a vow of celibacy for life.
The Diaconate for me has exceeded my expectations, sometimes a struggle but above all a blessing. I’m fortunate to have had such a terrific support group which includes my immediate family, the parishioners at SMOY, and Father Pasala and Fr. Bedel. The Diaconate means service, and service, when called upon, not an arranged calling that, is convenient. The satisfaction of being a deacon is not of myself but knowing that I’m part of and assisting the parish community, the SMOY staff, ministry teams or one of our priests.
A question I think all deacons have is whether we are making a difference in our ministry and whether we are fulfilling a real need in our community. I pray that I'm on the path the Lord has planned for me, and I find comfort in the Archdiocese prayer for vocations for this personal need. For in the end all ministries born of the Spirit of the Lord ought to obtain what is best described in scripture …. "... And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13–14). " ... Community is life-giving—and essential to following Christ. Scripture says that's because we're better together than we are alone (Romans 12:4–5).
Written by: Deacon Mike Huffman