Pgh. Diocese to begin new Deacon Formation Program


The Diocese of Pittsburgh is initiating the nomination and application process for admitting a new class of interested and qualified Catholic men into the Deacon Formation Program, according to an announcement by Bishop David A. Zubik.

In addition, as previously announced in 2014, the bishop said he intends to continue calling additional classes into the formation program every other year in order to prepare men to eventually serve in ordained ministry as permanent deacons.

“Since 1974, when the first diaconate class was ordained for our diocese, deacons have diligently and faithfully served the Church of Pittsburgh in countless ways,” Bishop Zubik said. “We have been richly and abundantly blessed by their ministry.”

Deacons along with bishops and priests constitute the three levels of ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. The Diocese of Pittsburgh currently has about 100 permanent deacons plus 15 men in the Deacon Formation Program.

Although deacons often assist priests at Mass, preach on occasion, and sometimes preside at baptisms, weddings, funeral services, and other liturgical functions, the primary focus of their ministry is rooted in works of service and charity.

Deacons may be called upon to minister to those who are sick, elderly, imprisoned, hungry, poor, lonely, and forgotten. They might work with immigrants, youths and young adults, those in special need, or those on the fringes of society. Many deacons work to share the faith by catechizing and evangelizing. Some deacons also have administrative duties in the church.

“My hope in calling for another diaconate class is to continue to foster the formation of men who are willing to use their God-given gifts and talents in order to develop their potential for servant leadership in the church and to embrace the model of Jesus Christ’s humble, loving care for others,” Bishop Zubik said.

“My further hope,” he added, “is that, by their example, deacons will continue to inspire, support, and motivate all of the lay faithful to live out their own call, by virtue of their Baptism, to serve others.”

The ministry of deacons is rooted in the earliest days of the church. The New Testament recounts that, when faced with the need for help in caring for the practical well-being of the faithful, the apostles prayed and laid hands on certain men to designate them for special service to the community. “Deacon” comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning “servant” or “minister.”

A prospective deacon should be a man of solid faith, deep spirituality, and good reputation and character. He should be fully initiated into the sacramental life of the Catholic Church and living in conformity with all of its teachings.

He also should be physically, psychologically, and emotionally healthy; generously willing to serve the diocesan church; and capable of assuming a leadership role and working well with a diversity of people.

Applicants must be between the ages of 30 and 59. They should have at least a bachelor’s degree and be able to financially support themselves and their family. A married applicant must be in a stable, well-established marriage and have the full support of his wife to enter the formation program, which lasts at least five years.

To begin the process, a prospective applicant’s pastor must submit a nomination on his behalf. The deadline for nominations is September 15. Applications without a nomination will not be considered.

For more information, contact the Diocese of Pittsburgh Deacon Formation Program: or 412-456-3124.

Four information sessions are scheduled for Catholic men interested in learning about the ministry of deacons, their service to the church, and qualifications for the next class of the Deacon Formation Program.

No registration is required. Wives of prospective applicants are also encouraged to attend.

All four sessions will take place in O’Connor Hall at Saint Paul Seminary, 2900 Noblestown Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15205:

• Wednesday, July 27—7 to 9 p.m.

• Saturday, August 6—9 to 11 a.m.

• Tuesday, August 9—7 to 9 p.m.

• Thursday, August 18—7 to 9 p.m.

“These information sessions will provide an opportunity for any interested Catholic man of the diocese—even if he’s not sure he has a calling—to learn more about diaconal formation and ministry and to ask questions he may have,” said Deacon Stephen Byers, director of the Deacon Formation Program.


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