By Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald
Photos By Frank J. Methe | CLARION HERALD
Men who believe they may have a vocational call to the permanent diaconate are invited to attend one of four information sessions to learn more about the formation process and what it means to serve as an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church.
The information nights, which will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m., are scheduled for Jan. 22 at the Corpus Christi-Epiphany Center, 2022 St. Bernard Ave, New Orleans; Jan. 23 at the Infant Jesus of Prague Church Diaconate Center, 700 Maple St., Harvey; Jan. 29 at the Northshore Pastoral Center, 4465 Highway 190 East Service Road, Covington; or Feb. 5 at the Archdiocese of New Orleans Administration Building, 7887 Walmsley Ave., New Orleans.
This diaconate class would be ordained in 2025 following a 5 1/2-year formation process, said Deacon Ray Duplechain, director of the archdiocesan Permanent Diaconate Office.
A servant’s heart
Deacon Duplechain said the information nights, which wives are encouraged to attend, are a low-key way of explaining the diaconate formation criteria and process, as well as what the life and service of a deacon entails.
“Those who sense God speaking to them about the possibility of serving in ordained ministry are encouraged to ‘come and see,’” Deacon Duplechain said. “The most important thing that we look for is someone who has a spirit of service, whether that be someone who is actively engaged in a parish ministry or, if he is a younger guy who hasn’t been involved a great deal with a parish ministry, has been involved in some kind of civic service. Service is the key to all of it.”
Attendance at one of these sessions will enable each participant to consider requesting an invitation to attend the more formalized “discernment gatherings” in the future.
There are about 220 permanent deacons, including more than 160 in active service, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and 19 men are currently in formation to be ordained in 2022.
“There continues to be an increasing demand for the service of deacons,” Deacon Duplechain said. “It’s very rare when we call a priest and he says, ‘We don’t need a deacon.’”
About 30 of the 111 parishes in the archdioceses do not currently have the service of a deacon, Deacon Duplechain said. Deacons are assigned based on the pastoral needs of the archdiocese, as determined by Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
Permanent deacons are ordained to foster the church’s ministry of service. They can proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies and preside at baptisms, weddings and funerals. About 25 deacons have secondary ministries outside of their parish assignments, Deacon Duplechain said.
Men are asked to preregister for one of the sessions by email – firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be obtained by calling the Permanent Diaconate Office at 861-6329.