... a decision was made in 2016 to study the possibility of integrating online distance learning into the formation program that would be more accessible to younger men with children and would limit the amount of travel to and from Braintree.
Have you thought about being a deacon only to be told that your family is too young? Do you feel a deeper call to ministry in the Church but your commute to Braintree for classes could be a couple of hours in length due to traffic? If the answer to one of these questions is yes, then there is good news for you! The Diaconate Formation Program is now offering its classes in a hybrid format, integrating in-person and distance-learning technologies. With this integration, the Archdiocese of Boston is casting a wider net into the sea of potential candidates for the diaconate.
In most dioceses across the U.S., the average age of men inquiring and applying to the diaconate is around 53 years old. Some of these men considered the diaconate at earlier times in life but decided to wait until their children were older and they were closer to retirement. However, it is interesting to note that the bishops of the Second Vatican Council envisioned a younger diaconate, full of deacons with young families in the middle of their careers. When a proposal at the council suggested that men be at least 40 years old at ordination, the bishops said, "That's too old," and settled on 35 years of age.
There are many good reasons why men do not consider the diaconate at an earlier age. There are also many reasons why older men hesitate, as well. Regardless of age, there are many demands on all of us, and it is a challenge to maintain a healthy balance between family, work, and parish life without adding the many demands of diaconal formation.
Hearing the personal stories of why some men decided not to apply to the diaconate, a decision was made in 2016 to study the possibility of integrating online distance learning into the formation program that would be more accessible to younger men with children and would limit the amount of travel to and from Braintree. In 2017, the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program began integrating distance learning into the academic dimension of formation and, over the last five years, the formation program has partnered with one of the industry's leading providers of online learning management systems.
Presently, the formation program integrates in-person and distance learning to not only respect the family, work, and life balance but also allow younger men with the demands of a young family to apply. Additionally, it also allows men from the extreme edges of the archdiocese to consider formation, knowing that they only need to fight the rush hour traffic on one Monday and Wednesday evening a month instead of twice a week. This plan is bearing fruit. Presently, we have five men with young families in formation and we have more men from the fringes of the archdiocese inquiring about the program.
If you are discerning a call to the diaconate, please consider participating in the Inquiry Program as outlined below.
Inquiry Program dates and registrations
The formation office for the permanent diaconate will be holding three inquiry sessions for men interested in becoming deacons. Wives of inquirers are strongly recommended to attend sessions one and two.
-- Inquiry Session One: Who is the Deacon?
This session will be offered via Zoom. Inquirers can choose one of the three dates for session one: Sept. 27, Oct. 6, or Oct. 20. All sessions begin at 7 p.m. See contact information below to register and receive a link.
-- Inquiry Session Two: Morning of Recollection and Discernment
This session will be held in person at the Pastoral Center at 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, on Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon.
-- Inquiry Session Three: Canonical Impediments and Issues
This session will be offered via Zoom. Inquirers can choose one of the two options for this session: Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. or Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. See contact information below to register and receive a link.
For more information or to register for an inquiry session, please visit the diaconate website: www.bostondiaconate.org or contact Deacon Christopher Connelly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-746-5649.
DEACON CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY IS THE DIRECTOR FOR THE PERMANENT DIACONATE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.