Deacon Formation FAQ

Do I have to go to ILM? I have an equivalent education.

There may be exceptions, but generally speaking, ILM is required because it is much more than just a theological program.

ILM can acquaint you with the Diocese of San Jose, bringing you into contact with priests, deacons, and lay people who teach the courses, as well as others who are your classmates. The Diocese is diverse and attending ILM can expand your view of the whole Diocese and its needs.

In addition, formation itself is more than just intellectual. The Four Pillars of Formation are the Intellectual, the Human, the Spiritual, and the Pastoral. ILM will introduce you to all of these dimensions. ILM will help you focus and give you tools for developing your spiritual life, discerning your vocation, and growing as a person and as a pastoral minister.

Do I have to take TOEFL?

You have to take TOEFL if your native language is not English or Spanish.  The Diocese of San Jose needs ministers who can communicate easily and well in English and/or Spanish. The required passing scores for TOEFL are:

  • Reading: 22
  • Listening: 22
  • Speaking: 29
  • Writing: 26
What if I’m a native Spanish speaker?

If you are a native Spanish speaker, you must know enough English to read and respond to emails, and to attend meetings and other sessions in English. ILM has a Spanish-language track for the academic courses so you will be able to attend these classes and write papers in Spanish.

Why is there an age restriction

The US Catholic Bishops require that any prospective permanent deacon must be at least 35 years old at the time of ordination. (See National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, #87)

In addition, the Diocese of San Jose requires that permanent deacons be no older than 65 at the time of ordination, in order to allow at least ten years of service before the mandatory retirement age of 75.

I just became Catholic. Can I become a deacon?

Yes, but you may not apply for Deacon formation until you have been a fully initiated Catholic for at least 3 years.

I am married, but my wife is not Catholic. Can I become a deacon?

You must have been married for at least 5 years before you may apply.  In addition, you must be in a valid Catholic marriage.  If you or your wife need an annulment, or you need a convalidation for any other reason, that must be taken care of before you apply. If your wife is not Catholic, you must still be married validly in the Catholic Church.

In addition, your wife must give her consent at various points throughout the formation process, and she will be expected to participate in parts of the process, including Saturday sessions and retreats. You must be certain that she understands these obligations and is willing to take part. If she is not Catholic, this may require more conversation and discernment than it would otherwise.

How long does Deacon Formation take?

It depends on an individual man’s readiness and on his progress in the Four Pillars of Formation—the human, the pastoral, the intellectual, and the spiritual. Generally speaking, you should count on 3 years for ILM, plus an additional 4 or 5 years of Deacon Formation.

What other issues should I consider when discerning a vocation to the diaconate?

You should:

  • Be open to grow in knowledge of the Church’s teachings and in the pastoral applications of these teachings.
  • Have a history of active service and proven leadership in parish or diocesan ministry.
  • Have sufficient academic foundation to engage in advanced studies.
  • Be in good physical and mental health.
  • Be open to serving the Church in a variety of ways, depending on the needs of the Diocese.
What do I do next?

If you meet the pre-requisites (age, language, ILM, marriage status), you should pray over your decision and confer about it with your pastor. If you then wish to proceed, please fill out the Inquiry Form. Someone will contact you within two weeks. The Deacon Formation office is not staffed full-time, we will contact you as we are at the office.

Deacon Formation Application Requirement

Download Application Requirement Document

Deacon Formation Application

Pre-requisites below must be true before submitting form.

Catholic Fully initiated Catholic (3 years minimum)
And if married, Catholic marraige (5 year minimum)
Age Between 30 and 60 years old
Language Native language is English
Or Native language is Spanish
Or TOEFL taken passing scores
ILM Completed ILM or in second year of ILM

Please complete the Deacon Inquiry below:

Please click on plus sign to view Inquiry Form

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date and Place where you received your sacraments: