Diocese Announces New Permanent Diaconate ClassBishop Ronald W. Gainer, of the Diocese of Harrisburg, has announced that he is opening enrollment for a formation class for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The class will consist of a course of studies including theology as well as pastoral, spiritual and human formation.

“After traveling the diocese and speaking with many of our faithful people and clergy I believe that the time is right to open the doors of opportunity to a new class of Permanent Deacons” stated Bishop Gainer. The last class of Permanent Deacons was announced by Bishop Kevin Rhoades in 2006 leading to 23 men being ordained in 2010. Currently there are 68 Permanent Deacons serving in the 15 counties of the Diocese of Harrisburg. There have been 3 previous classes of Deacons ordained for service in this diocese; they were in 1978, 1983 and 2010.

Requirements for application include that the man must be a Catholic who has received all the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion), he should be spiritually devoted and active in the Church. He should be at least 30 and no more than 62 years old, healthy, educated, financially stable, registered in a diocesan parish and, if married, in a mature, valid and stable marriage. Single applicants must be ready to contemplate lifelong celibacy.

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning “servant” or “minister.” Becoming a Deacon is a vocation, that is, a calling from God. Before he can begin the formation process that leads to the Sacrament of Holy Orders he must first discern if he is truly being called by God. Because of that, the program of formation will begin with an aspirancy year which will focus on discerning (the discovery, comprehension, understanding) of the call to ordained ministry. That is followed by four years of studies and preparation for ordination, which will take place in the spring of 2020.

Bishop Gainer remarked, “I am looking forward to this new class of Deacons and the impact that they can make and the assistance that they can provide to me and our local Church.” A Deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. They can perform a variety of roles in the Church. During Mass, as Ministers of the Word, they can proclaim the Gospel, preach and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons can baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshalling the Church’s resources to meet those needs. Deacons are to be a servant in a servant-Church.

Catholic men who wish to apply should approach their pastors. Applications will become available through pastors March 15, 2015. All applications must be complete no later than June 15, 2015.

Fr. Paul CB Schenck is the Acting Director of Formation for Permanent Deacons. He is available to pastors, priests and men inquiring about ordination as Permanent Deacons. He can be reached at frpschenck@hbgdiocese.org or 717-657-4804 x 282.

Click here to read an FAQ on the Permanent Diaconate Formation Class

Listen to an interview with Father Paul CB Schenck about the new Formation Class.

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