The pastor is a partner in the process and makes a significant contribution to the success of the Institute for Diaconal Studies in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Although deacons are ordained for the Archdiocese, it is the pastor from the sponsoring parish who is the diocesan representative to an applicant in the formation process leading to ordination. The demands of ministry require that IDS prepare candidates who are competent to become deacons and who can stand shoulder to shoulder with their pastor and parish staff to effectively serve the people of God. The pastor is a key to realizing this objective.
An invitation to an individual to consider listening to God’s call to the vocation of the deacon usually comes through the pastor, even if the applicant initiates the inquiry. The pastor, and parish staff, should consider the impact of a new deacon in relationship to the anticipated future needs of the parish.
The pastor must submit a letter endorsing and sponsoring the applicant. No applicant is accepted without a pastor’s involvement.
The pastor provides spiritual and emotional support for the applicant and his wife (if married). The financial support of the parish augments a Diocesan subsidy that pays for program’s tuition costs.
The pastor is the primary supervisor of the applicant during his aspirant and candidate formation periods. He may delegate some of the “hands on” supervision to an associate or staff member, but ultimately the pastor is responsible for supervision of the candidate.
A formal annual evaluation from the pastor assessing the progress of the candidate from the perspective of the pastor and parish staff is required. Monthly meetings between candidate and pastor are strongly recommended.
The Director of Formation stands before the Ordinary at ordination and attests, with moral certitude, to the candidate’s readiness for ordination. This is only possible when the pastor, as a partner with the formation staff, has seen and experienced the candidate’s readiness. A sign of the pastor’s endorsement of the candidate and diaconal ministry is the preparation of the parish for the role and ministry of the deacon.
Following ordination, another expectation of the pastor is to be welcoming. It is important that the deacon be included in the communications and activities of the parish staff in order to fully support the mission of the parish. The deacon should be encouraged to use his faculties fully in service to the people of God in the ministry of Word, Liturgy, and Charity.
Approximately ninety percent of candidates are married. It is an expectation that the wives participate in many discernment aspects of the formation program. This experience is needed in order to support, in writing, their husband’s desire to be ordained.