Conception Abbey and Seminary College inaugurated the Deacon Formation Program in 1989 to provide the theological training for candidates preparing for the permanent diaconate. This formation consists of 13 courses on a variety of theological subjects. Candidates earn undergraduate credit, and their spouses can audit courses or receive credit as well.
The program responds to the needs of the Catholic Church in the United States by preparing men to serve in the growing ministry of the permanent diaconate. Wives of diaconal candidates also fully participate. Course work is designed to deepen students’ lives of faith by strengthening their knowledge of the teachings of the Church. Classes are offered during a week in August and one weekend each month from September to May over a three and a half year period.
The Deacon Formation Program fulfills the mission of Conception Seminary College in “the preparation of candidates for ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church” primarily through providing intellectual formation for aspirants for the permanent diaconate.
Some may wonder why hosting a program to form deacons for parish ministry at a monastery would be helpful. There are two essential values from the Benedictine tradition that are worthy of imitation by those who wish to serve the Church as deacons: hospitality and humility.
Hospitality: Historically, deacons have ministered in works of charity and mercy since the beginning (Acts 6:3). Chapter 53 of the Rule of St. Benedict states that “all are to be received like Christ,” welcoming the marginalized and neglected. “The greatest care and solicitude should be shown [to the poor]; because it is especially in them that Christ is received” (RB 53:15).
Humility: Deacons are empowered by the Sacrament of Holy Orders to serve the People of God “as Christ the servant.” The nobility of service is manifested in Jesus, “who did not come to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45), which He showed at the Last Supper when washing the Apostles’ feet. St. Benedict has an entire chapter (Ch. 7) on this Christian virtue that is an antidote to the dangers of clericalism and careerism.
— Br. Elias Zaczkiewicz, OSB
Deacon Formation Program Director
* Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph.
The 2022 graduate cohort of Conception’s Deacon Formation Program included 18 ordained for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (pictured) and six ordained for the Diocese of Des Moines.
*article found in Summer 2022 issue of Tower Topics