The Diocese of Little Rock is inviting men who believe they are being called to be deacons to begin discerning the vocation.
After a five-year break, the diaconate formation program will return in 2017, according to Deacon Chuck Ashburn, director of the Office of Faith Formation. The five-year program will begin with monthly classes for candidates and their wives at St. John Center in the fall 2017 under the direction of Father Erik Pohlmeier.
Informational meetings will be held this fall to provide an overview of the program and plans leading up to ordination in 2022.
For those interested in discerning their calling further, seven discernment groups will begin meeting in January 2016 around the diocese, including Little Rock, Fort Smith and Jonesboro.
The groups will meet in English and Spanish one Saturday a month for nine months for prayer and discernment on the call to service and the diaconal call. Wives are strongly encouraged to attend. Only those who participated in the entire discernment process will be allowed to apply for the program, Ashburn said.
Father Pohlmeier said, “We want to help potential deacons and their wives respond to that call in the right way, to understand not just a desire to serve but know if it is a call to the specific role of deacon. Everyone who participates in the discernment process will grow in their service to God and his people whether they end up in the deacon class or not.”
The discernment program is open to Catholic men in good standing with the Church who will be at least 35 years old by the ordination date in 2022.
Ashburn said this diaconate formation class will be slightly different from previous programs. The program is now five years. The first three years, of candidacy, will also correspond with the class time for the Little Rock Theology Institute. The men and their wives will take all the regular courses one weekend a month plus additional diaconate formation and would be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in theology from St. Gregory University in Shawnee, Okla.
The final year will focus solely on diaconate training, including homiletics and canon law, Ashburn said.
For more information on the program, contact Ashburn at or (501) 664-0340.
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