The man preparing for the Diaconate . . . is a necessary and irreplaceable agent in his own formation. All formation . . . is ultimately a self-formation.
Self-formation has its roots in a firm determination to grow in life according to the Spirit and in conformity with the vocation received, and it is nourished in being humbly open to recognizing one's own limitations and one's own gifts." The most important characteristics of a diaconal formation program are that it is:
- spiritually enriching;
- pastoral in orientation;
- theologically sound and well integrated; and
adapted to local resources and needs
The Diaconate Formation Program in the Archdiocese of New York is a four-year program. Aspirants and candidates meet at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie, or at Our Lady of Lourdes High School, Poughkeepsie, on Monday and Wednesday evenings, September through June, from 6:45 pm to 10:00 pm to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Evening and Night Prayer) in community, to attend classes, and to participate in spiritual, liturgical, and social activities. In addition, aspirants and candidates attend spiritual, theological or pastoral workshops or broaden their familiarity with various Archdiocesan offices and personnel and strengthen communal bonds on selective Friday evenings or Saturdays throughout the year.
Year I of the Diaconal Formation Program places great emphasis on an ongoing discernment process which has as its primary objective a close, intimate, and mature relationship with Christ. The Rector, the Director of Formation and members of his team, the sponsoring pastor, and the aspirant or candidate himself are responsible to determine whether the Lord is indeed calling him to diaconal ministry at this time. Sometimes the answer will be 'no,' in which case, the aspirant will have come to recognize the validity and value of his contribution to the Church as a layman, and will have received some help to fulfill that vocation through his participation in the diaconate formation program.