USML | Role of Pastors

Institute for Diaconal Studies

Role of Pastors

The pastor is a partner in the process and makes a significant contribution to the success of the Institute for Diaconal Studies (IDS) 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.

Ambassadors & Speakers Bureau

Pastors Assist Recruitment of Candidates

Recruiting a deacon candidate in a parish requires a pastor to have patience, diligence and the savvy to identify qualified and dedicated men.

It also helps when qualified Christian men step forward and ask their pastor to help them discern a vocation.

The Institute for Diaconal Studies (IDS) can help the pastor and parish leadership in this process. IDS of the Archdiocese of Chicago offers pastors and parishes opportunities to have truly gifted ordained deacons speak to individuals and men’s groups or speak from their pulpits on the benefits and values of considering a vocation to the ordained ministry of deacon. Many men in the pews have had the instinct to know that the Holy Spirit is touching their soul – and maybe the role of an ordained minister in the Church is precisely where the Holy Spirit is leading them.

Many of these same men may be reluctant to seek a conversation with their pastor. Gentle nudging is a gift of the spirit.

Let us help you – the pastor – with the gentle nudging!

IDS is willing and able to come to your parish for consultation. Pick up the phone and call us or send us an email. We will gladly come to you and explain the benefits of identifying capable men in your community who may be hearing the Holy Spirit calling them to ordained ministry. 

Our Ambassador & Speaker’s Bureau is willing and able to speak to the hearts of these men. They can provide the insight and direction for both pastor and inquirer to take the next step of discernment. Contact us and let us know your needs – a special event, a Sunday family Mass, an individual couple, men’s group outing, or all of your Sunday Masses – one of our gifted ambassadors is available to address your community’s particular needs.

Give us a call or reply by e-mail:

Deacon Bob Puhala, Director
Institute for Diaconal Studies
University of Saint Mary of the Lake


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