Posted August 3, 2004
Future Issues for the Permanent Diaconate
Taken from A National Study on the Permanent Diaconate of the Catholic Church in the United States — 1994-1995
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Washington, DC
1. How are the issues of the deacon’s identity and acceptance to be resolved in light of the tendency of many to use the deacon to address the present shortage of priests?
2. Is there a need for a more determined recruitment of men for the diaconate from minority and less affluent communities? If so, how is this to be addressed?
3. How can preordination spiritual formation and postordination continuing spiritual direction of deacons be better addressed?
4. How can diocesan deacon formation programs be strengthened to address better the principles of Catholic social justice teaching? How can candidates be better prepared to use service agencies such as Catholic Charities and Family Life Bureaus for referral and as a source of training?
5. What are the best means of response to the demonstrated need for a more focused effort on the national and diocesan levels to form and challenge deacons toward roles and ministries more clearly differentiated from the ministerial priesthood?
6. What will be required in developing curricula for deacon formation that will more clearly orient deacons toward embodying and preaching issues of justice, human rights, and peace?
7. In what ways can diocesan formation programs be strengthened in the following areas:
– Field training and internships that are extraparochial and diocesan oriented.
– Orientation/preparation days for wives by wives of deacons to explore the role of the wife of a deacon and the impact of ordination on the deacon’s family.
– Spiritual direction for and by deacons.
– More focused communication and accountability systems joining supervisors and deacons into wider networks of diocesan and Church-wide concerns.
– Promoting further the need for a written mission statement and a specific role delineation for dioceses.
– Promoting opportunities in evangelization.
The challenge of the next decades will be to make these developments more theologically rich and thus to expand the deacon’s sense of ministry, evangelization, and service continually, even beyond the parish.