Hoping to fill a gap in scholarly research about permanent deacons, Joseph Ferrari, a permanent deacon in the Joliet, Ill., diocese and a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, has designed a survey to collect data that when complete will provide a better understanding of the personal and spiritual lives of Catholic deacons.
The survey is open to deacons, deacon candidates and applicants to a diaconate formation program in a U.S. or Canadian diocese.
“As permanent deacons and candidates, we minister with our personal characteristics and lifestyles. However, no scholarly published survey information exists about our personal and spiritual lives, our opinions, attitudes, joys and challenges about formation and transformation process,” Ferrari explains in an invitation to deacons, candidates and deacon applicants to complete the survey.
The survey is online at www.deaconstudy.org. It includes questions about the men’s experiences in the Catholic church, their spiritual activities and parish communities. Some information — such as age, education, employment and service in the church — will flesh out the demographic profile of deacons.“We hope to learn who these men are,” Ferrari told NCR. “What calls them? How do they lead? Do certain leadership styles fit with certain parish structures and vice versa?”