Formation is a four-year program. It includes the one-year Aspirancy Path, which concentrates on discernment, and the three-year Candidate Path, which contains most of the academic courses in addition to all other formation elements and which may lead to Holy Orders.
The program is mandated by both the Vatican (1998) and National (USCCB, 2005) Directories. It includes the four “pillars” or dimensions of formation: human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral. All academic coursework is taught at a mid-university level of standard.
The Aspirancy Path is a one year formal vocation discernment. It starts with an opening retreat and Welcoming Mass; and ends with a closing retreat and Admission and Scrutinies Board Review. Aspirants and wives are required to undertake a monthly spiritual directions and a Theological Reflection Group meetings. Aspirants also attend several formation sessions and their wives are required to attend some of the information sessions that are regarded as Key Events. The second semester includes comprehensive Catechism of the Catholic Church course and Service to Charity field education component.
The Candidacy Path is a three-year journey of formation and academic studies. The candidates are also required to undertake a monthly spiritual directions and a Theological Reflection Group meetings all these three years. They also attend several formation sessions and academic classes during each of the two academic semesters.
The Institute for Diaconal Studies is a constitutive part of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. IDS liturgies throughout the year take place at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at USML, Retreats are held at Marytown in Libertyville, while most of our academic/formation sessions take place at our satellite site.
Forming the next generation of parish leaders for service to God and His people.