Saint Meinrad’s Permanent Deacon Formation Program has developed a program for dioceses to provide formation for deacon aspirants – those men in the initial year of discerning their call to the permanent diaconate.

To assist a diocese in helping men demonstrate the abilities and skills that the U.S. bishops require, the following model course of study is available.

Saturday Workshops

These workshops, typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., are offered on a Saturday, once a month, during the aspirancy year. Course descriptions are below.

  • Introduction to Discernment
  • Introduction to Theological Reflection
  • Introduction to Spiritual Direction
  • Pastoral Identity, Skills and Boundaries
  • Prayer and Sacramental Participation
  • Evangelization and Ecumenism, including an introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Research and Writing in Formation

Weekend Course in Philosophy

Following the same weekend schedule used for deacon formation (7 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Sunday), the aspirants take two weekends (one weekend in each of two consecutive months) to receive a basic course in philosophy.

Workshop and Course Descriptions

Introduction to Discernment

This workshop is based on the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict and emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and appropriate self-revelation. Along with his wife, if he is married, the aspirant will be guided in discerning God’s call to ministry to the poor and afflicted.

Introduction to Theological Reflection

Using a five-step model from the Seminary and School of Theology, aspirants are taught the usefulness of and method for theological reflection. Particular emphasis is given to appropriate self-revelation, support systems, personal experience, discernment and relationships.

Introduction to Spiritual Direction

The importance and dynamics of spiritual direction will be stressed, along with skills for hearing the voice of God in various ways. The aspirant will be given assistance in choosing a spiritual director.

Pastoral Identity, Skills and Boundaries

This workshop provides a brief survey of the skills required for effective ministry: listening, criticism, confidence, dialogue, integration of boundaries, collaboration, mutuality in marriage, celibacy, Christian vocation, diaconal service, facilitation and respect.

Prayer and Sacramental Preparation

Personal and public prayer with Scripture, personal meditation on the mystery of God, the Liturgy of the Hours, participation in the sacraments, Marian devotion and planning communal prayer are all addressed in this workshop.

Evangelization and Ecumenism

The aspirant will consider how he is and will be able to share the faith with people from various backgrounds. A brief introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church will enhance his abilities for living a life of discipleship with an ecumenical interest.

Research and Writing in Formation

To enhance the aspirant’s communication skills across cultures and within the intellectual discipline of theology, the workshop presents a theological bibliography and the tools of theological research and writing.

Introduction to Philosophy

This two-weekend course gives aspirants a broad view of the history of philosophy, particularly focusing on those philosophical traditions that play an important role in the formation and interpretation of the Roman Catholic theological tradition throughout the ages.

Contact Us

For more information on Permanent Deacon Formation for aspirants or candidates, contact the program director at:

Phone: 317-357-6791