The first step in discerning whether or not you should attempt to become ordained as a permanent deacon is to hear The Call to the Vocation of Deacon. Becoming a deacon is not a personal choice as much as it is an answer to a call from God to serve his people. Should you hear this call, you should pray for clarity in this decision and discuss it with your wife, your children, and your pastor. If you have a deacon in your parish, it is quite helpful to discuss it also with him.
Once you have determined that you would like to investigate this vocation further, you should contact the Director of Diaconal Formation. During an initial interview with the director, he will decide whether or not the diaconate might be a good fit for you. Assuming that you both decide to proceed, you become an Inquirer and the director will pass your contact information to the Deacon Information Committee of the Diaconal Assembly to continue meeting with you, either individually or with your wife, to answer any questions that you or your wife might have about the diaconate.
The next step of the formation process is called Aspirancy. This stage usually lasts between 18 months and 2 years. During this time, the aspirant attends 10 course offerings from the Diocesan Department of Catechesis and Formation to prepare for the diaconal formation program.
After successfully completing the requirements of the Aspirancy stage, an aspirant desiring to continue the formation process completes a series of interviews and psychological testing designed to reinforce the mutual suitability of the aspirant and the diaconate.
Men successfully passing the interview and testing process are invited by the Bishop to enter the Deacon Formation Program of the diocese. As the name implies, this is a period of formation of the whole person – Human Dimension, Spiritual Dimension, Intellectual Dimension, and Pastoral Dimension. This is accomplished through a three-year series of formation weekends conducted in communion with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at the Athenaeum of Ohio. These formation weekends occur routinely every other weekend of the months from September to May.
After three months in the formation program, the men in formation are invited by the Bishop to Candidacy. At the end of the first year in formation, the candidates are Installed to the Ministry of Lector. At the end of the second year in formation, the candidates are Installed to the Ministry of Acolyte. At the end of the third year, successful candidates are ordained by the Bishop to the Order of Deacon.