Discerning a Vocation to the Diaconate
“Vocation” comes from the Latin verb vocare, which means “to call.” Through the Sacraments of Initiation, all Christians are called to holiness and to participation in the Church’s outreach to the world. Some men receive the more specific call to the diaconate, through which they are specially consecrated for Christian service (diakonia).
But how do I know if God is calling me to the diaconate? The gradual discovery of a vocation to the diaconate takes place through prayer and discernment.
Discernment is the process of discovering God’s will for our lives. It involves a disciplined listening for God in liturgical and private prayer, in conversation with our spouse, family, friends, and spiritual mentors, and in reflection on the movement and direction of our lives.
A vocation, then, traces its beginnings to one’s ongoing dialogue with God. On the personal level, men considering the diaconate should ask the Holy Spirit to disclose the Father’s will for them, not only through set times of prayer, but also in and through daily lives given over to God and neighbor.
As the overwhelming majority of applicants to the diaconate are married, discernment must involve one’s spouse and immediate family. How well do they understand the permanent diaconate and its impact on your family life? What are their thoughts and concerns? How would the diaconate affect your living out of the vocation to marriage?
Any vocation to ministry must involve the Church. Ultimately it is the local Church, under the leadership of the Archbishop, which calls forth men to the diaconate. The discernment of a diaconal vocation begins during the initial inquiry and application stage, but is continually tested and confirmed throughout the formation process.
Since inquirers to the diaconate have many commitments–to family, career, employment, community, and parish–the applicant must not only explore the call to the diaconate itself, but also his ability to respond to such a call at the present time.
What do I do next?