The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Pass the basket: a special collection for deacons

Now here’s something I’ve never heard before — but it’s a great sign of the growing importance and value of the diaconate in parish life.

St. Louis evidently takes up an annual collection for Deacon Formation:

The annual Deacon Formation collection, which takes place this weekend, provides financial assistance for men going through the eight-year formation program for the permanent diaconate. That is welcome help, say local priests and deacons, for the men who serve as deacons at parishes throughout the archdiocese.

“Generosity is the one word that jumps out when I think of the permanent deacons,” said Father Michael Witt, director of the archdiocesan Permanent Diaconate Office. He cited the time and money involved: five years of formation in preparation for ordination — permanent deacons are ordained clergy — and three years after ordination, and the cost of books, transportation and tuition.


“And they end up with a job that doesn’t pay anything. No one is paid for doing diaconate work. That is all voluntary,” he said. While there is some compensation for expenses and some tuition assistance, “this collection helps across the board to keep tuition down and provide financial aid when needed for men preparing to become deacons,” Father Witt said. “They are very generous men. And their wives are tremendous supporters, unsung heroes.”

You can read more about all this at the link.

In my diocese, financial support — for classes, supplies and retreats — comes from the individual parishes of the men in formation.

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posted October 1, 2010 at 12:20 am

What a wonderful idea and also a vocation promotion in the parishes. I am curious to ask readers of this blog: what does your diocese charge for tuition? I checked with our formation director and here are our figures: 5 year program (1 yr aspirancy, 4 yrs candidacy at $2,000.00/yr per married couple or $1,000.00/yr for single men. A grand total for most deacons of $10,000.00. No tuition assistance is offered by the archdiocese and usually nothing from parishes.

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Dcn Dave Henn

posted October 1, 2010 at 6:44 am

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis covers tuition, room and meals for the formation period as well as annual retreats (classes and retreats are held Friday through Sunday, one weekend each month, and the candidates and their wives typically stay overnights at the facilities). Candidates pay the cost of books, with assistance available if money is short now and again. Post-ordination, a parish to which a deacon is assigned pays an annual assessment to cover continuing ed and retreats. Wives are welcomed and encouraged to attend throughout the pre- and post-ordination process and the Archdiocese covers their accommodations. Great program.

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posted October 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

“No one is paid for doing diaconate work. That is all voluntary,”
No One? I think that is sad. I understand that in general, deacons have non-stipendary ministries but in every dicoese I know of there are paid positions that I would consider diaconal work. There might be particular reasons why they are filed by non-deacons but to fill them with priests takes the priest away from the underserved priestly pastoral work and to fill them with laypersons denies the benefits of the diaconal charism in the ministry.
It has long puzzled me why some dioceses have many Chancery postions filled by priests while parishes go without resident pastors.

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posted October 1, 2010 at 11:29 am

I agree with Katherine to a point. There are roles that permenant deacons could fill within the chancery. Bishops have to be careful to use men whom orthodoxy is there “allegiance” and not opinion. Too often in homilies and writings this does not happen. Even these men who can’t seperate opinions from Church teachings are often men of incredible charity. Too bad this charity can’t be shown towards Church teaching!

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posted October 1, 2010 at 11:52 am

Dcn Dave: How beautiful that your archdiocese has such care for the deacons. I have heard there indeed are dioceses in which formation is gratis to the candidates in light of the fact that most will work on a stipend basis. Now that’s juctice in action. Congratulations to your archbishop!

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posted October 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The Diocese of Las Vegas, which is ordaining its first class of 19 deacons in June 2010 after 5 years of formation, covers most of the costs associated with the program. The first two years of the program are a Lay Ecclesial Ministry certificate program (LEMP – open to both men and women) with the costs shared in thirds by the individual, the individual’s parish and the Diocese. The Diocese covers the cost of the final three years of formation for deacon candidates and those wishing to continue “Advanced Ministry Formation” (those LEMP graduates who are not becoming or cannot become Deacons) except for books and retreats (one per year) which run about $4-500 per year. Monetary assistance is available if needed. Not sure about Post-ordination costs as we are not there yet. Overall, the program has been fantastic. Additionally, just last month the Diocese began the formation of its second class of deacon candidates on track for ordination in 2014!

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Deacon Norb

posted October 1, 2010 at 6:24 pm

To both Eric and Katherine:
There are permanently ordained deacons all over the nation who hold paying positions in our church.
Some are full-time; some part part-time. Some work at National Levels; others at Diocesan Levels; and even some at the Parish Levels.
At a National level; a deacon now holds the position as Chancellor of the Military Archdiocese of the United States.
At the diocesan levels, we have Chancellors; Diocesan Business Officers; Vicars for Deacons; Directors of Global Concerns; Religious Education Specialists; etc.
At the local levels; there are deacons who are Pastoral Leaders of parishes (pastors in all but name); deacons who are Pastoral Associates (Assistant Pastors in all but name); and deacons who are local parish Business Officers.
No big deal!

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

In my diocese, deacons serve is the Secretary for Clergy Personnel, Secretary for Human Resources, and (ahem) Director of News for the diocesan TV station.

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Deacon Bill Johnson

posted October 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm

As a beneficiary of the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ annual collection, I have no problem with not being paid for diaconal work. The reward that I receive for doing my ministry cannot be measured in dollars.
As mentioned by others above, many deacons serve in paid positions in the Church. Most of them are qualified for the positions because of the formation they had prior to ordination. However, I would venture to say that most of these men do a significant amount of “diaconal work” for which they do not receive a paycheck…only the satisfaction of knowing that they helped someone by being the Face of Christ to them.

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posted October 2, 2010 at 9:33 am

I am pleased to learn that the statement that “No one is paid for doing diaconate work” in the St.Louis diocese was in error.

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