Ad multos annos, y’all!
The new deacons underwent an extensive application and interview process, psychological evaluations and screenings before beginning classes in January 2007. Four and a half years later, they will bring the number of deacons to 53 in the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo.
“There are multiple requirements each man must meet before his ordination,” said Deacon Blaine Westlake, coordinator of the diaconate for the diocese. “The initial discernment period lasts about five months and after that, they begin their journey in a four-tier process with an emphasis on academics, spirituality and pastoral and personal components.”
Westlake said the men are required to serve in a charitable ministry. They can choose to work with prisoners, the poor, the sick, Catholic Family Service or any social justice ministry.
“They have to commit 200 hours in the program they choose,” Westlake said.
“That is, at least 10 documented hours per month for 20 months. In addition, they have to serve in an internship at their parish and spend at least two hours per week participating in a study and prayer group.”
Candidates for the diaconate also devote one weekend each month to extensive spiritual growth, beyond the ministry and study they commit to weekly. The men make a time commitment of about 64 hours each month for the length of the program, Westlake said.
The growth of the diaconate has sped in the United States and worldwide since it was renewed as an order of ministry after the Second Vatican Council. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reports 17,165 ordained men in America, with about 30,000 worldwide.
A deacon is the first rank of ordained ministry in the Catholic church. He assists priests in administrative and pastoral duties and may be married or single.
The men’s wives also make a significant time commitment in their husbands’ journey through the stages leading up to their ordination.
“Only the men are ordained to the clergy, but the wives are an integral part of it,” Westlake said. “They are involved in the full process from the get-go, helping with the ministry and being supportive.”
Read more. Congratulations, brothers!