Permanent Diaconate

img_deaconatePermanent Deacons are ordained ministers in the Roman Catholic Church. While their ministry is evident in many areas within the life of the Church, the main emphasis of their service is to the poor and marginalized. The Office of Deacon Formation coordinates all areas of a candidate’s preparation for ordained ministry. Following participation in the Institute for Leadership in Ministry, this process is a comprehensive formation program including academic, spiritual, liturgical, and social service experiences. This formation is done in close collaboration with the Institute for Leadership in Ministry, the Advanced Lay Leadership program, and Santa Clara University.

Deacon Formation Program Outline

There are three stages in preparation for ordination to the diaconate. Rome and the National Conference of Bishops mandate stages two and three (aspirancy and candidacy).


Completion of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry (ILM) is a prerequisite for deacon formation. Admission to the ILM is by the recommendation of a pastor. Discernment sessions are offered during the final year for those men who are discerning to apply to the Deacon Formation Program. Applicants recommended for diaconal discernment who already have substantial Catholic theological education are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


img_deaconate2A letter of recommendation by the pastor begins the formal application procedure. Letters of recommendation are also required from at least two other priests, several lay people (outside of the family) familiar with his ministry. The Director of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry offers pertinent input.

The applicant, and his wife, fill out the required questionnaires, submit pertinent documents, and are interviewed by individuals who serve on the Admissions and Evaluation Board. We will also speak with children still living at home.

The Admissions and Evaluation Board recommends applicants to the Bishop for admissions to the aspirancy stage.

The Aspirancy: This  stage (minimum 1 year) begins the pattern of formation that continues until ordination. Aspirants take classes in theology.  Saturday sessions during the aspirancy year involve foundations of ministry, spiritual and personal formation (including group work), and homiletics. They also participate in an apostolic field experience. It is a period of discernment by both the aspirant and the Diocese.


In the Winter of the Aspirancy Year an aspirant may petition to be accepted as a candidate for the permanent diaconate. The Admissions and Evaluation Board makes a recommendation to the Bishop.

Stage three lasts a minimum of three years. Candidates take classes in theology and participate in the formation program under the supervision of the Diocese of San Jose Deacon Formation Program and its Admissions and Evaluation Board.

A recommendation for continued participation in the deacon program at the end the first candidate year includes a recommendation for the ministry of Lector that is received in December of the second candidacy year. During the winter of candidacy year-two candidates are evaluated and recommended for the ministry of Acolyte that is received in June of year-two.

A final evaluation and recommendation for orders occurs in the fall of the program’s final year.

Contact the Office of Deacon Formation

Father Joseph Benedict
Director of Deacon Formation

Deacon Phil Flowers
Associate Director of Deacon Formation

Nancy Jolliff
Administrative Assistant of Deacon Formation