How do you get chosen to be a deacon?
Dear Fr Anthony,
I am in a group of 21 men that are potential candidates for the diaconate in our diocese. Twelve will be chosen about mid-May to enter into the program. What criteria do they use to make their selection?
It is tempting to think of the permanent diaconate as no more than a voluntary act of service to the Church. It is in fact a vocation, a call. (Our will assents to the call, it does not create it.) Diaconate is a participation in the ministry of service that the local Bishop exercises towards the Church committed to his care.
As in all vocations, there are two sides to be taken into consideration, the general, objective signs of a vocation, and then the particular, individual circumstances both of the individual who is offering himself and of the Church he will serve.
It is quite possible that each and every one of the potential candidates has all the objective qualities required in a future deacon, and each is also in the best of dispositions, but the needs of the Church or some special local circumstances dictate that only half are to be called at this time. The Bishop then is the one who ultimately (in prayer, and usually in consultation - bishops are humble men) makes his decision, and becomes the voice of Christ (whose Vicar he is in his Diocese) who calls the chosen individuals to this ministry of service.
Our human pride tends to make us say, 'I have all the qualities, I want to do this, I have a right to it, therefore it would be unjust to pass me over.' In the economy of salvation, in the Church, it is different. We offer ourselves, but it is God who decides what he would have us do (Read Luke 8, 26-39, especially the last two verses).
There were many excellent men in the time of St Peter, but he chose only seven to be deacons (Acts 6).