Catholic men are invited
to consider the diaconate

The 2020 diaconate cohort, which affectionately calls itself “the class with vision,” according to Deacon John Strain, far left, was ordained at St. Patrick Church in August 2020. The Diaconate Office is inviting men to consider joining the 2023 cohort. (Record File Photo by Ruby Thomas)

The Archdiocese of Louisville’s Diaconate Office will spend the next year inviting and welcoming men to its new cohort of permanent deacons.
Between now and July 2023, men in the archdiocese who are interested in becoming deacons are invited to contact the Diaconate Office, attend an information session and discern whether they’re called to the ministry.

Deacon Trey Mobley, the associate director of diaconate formation, said the diaconate is a varied ministry composed of men from all walks of life.
Men historically considered to be the original deacons were “men of good reputation” called by the apostles to take care of the Greek widows and orphans, who weren’t cared for as well as the Hebrew widows and orphans, he noted during a recent interview.

“The apostles said, ‘Call forth seven men of repute,’ ” said Deacon Mobley, quoting the sixth chapter of the Book of Acts.

Today, people should “be aware of men in the parish who would maybe make a good or appropriate candidate. For someone to say, ‘Hey, you would be a good deacon,’ that’s a mark of a good deacon.”

Joining the diaconate is a change in identity the way getting married changes your identity, Deacon Mobley said.

“For men, they often don’t change their names but you recognize you’re a different person, you have a different identity,” he said. “The same is very true of the diaconate because you become a public minister, a public representative of the church. That’s a big deal. Just like when you get married, you are never not a husband, never not a wife. Wherever you go, if you’re ordained a deacon you’re a deacon wherever you go.”

Deacon Mobley said 95 percent of the archdiocese’s deacons work a secular job, have families and “have a life that’s a little more similar to most of the laity.”

Deacon John Strain, pictured with his wife Devon and their three children, was ordained a permanent deacon in August 2020. (Photo Special to The Record)

For Deacon John Strain, the second youngest deacon in the archdiocese, having a strong support system in his wife and extended family has been essential.
Deacon Strain, who was ordained in 2020, said it’s “important to remember that the wife participates in her husband’s journey.”

“There’s this idea that we want the wives to journey with their husbands to ordination so that their spiritual growth stays together,” he said. “Through the five years of ordination … we want unity for the whole couple.”

The ministry of the diaconate is widely varied and different for every couple, according to Deacon Mobley. “But there’s one thing that’s universal. The wife must submit their approval of the man’s entry before they can be ordained.”

Deacon Strain’s eldest child was only 4 years old when he and his wife began discussing whether he should join the diaconate. At that time, and to this day, he worked in IT for healthcare insurance company Humana Inc. He now has three children, ages 12, 4 and 1.

“I think deacons with a young family and deacons with a full-time job, we’re kind of a new breed of deacon,” he said during a recent Zoom interview. “We are kind of a new style of deacon. It’s kind of my hope too, to say we have this opportunity to serve the church, the community. And the diaconate is a way to fulfill that calling, and it’s possible to do that with a full-time career.”

The next cohort beginning in 2023 will kick off with a retreat next August and then will meet one Saturday a month from September to June.
The first year is called a discernment year, Deacon Strain said.

“Through the whole program, discernment is a big part of this whole journey from the very beginning. Just being curious about the diaconate and deciding to put in your application, there’s this underlying current of discernment. Nowhere in the process is there pressure to continue,” he said.

Then for the following four years, the cohort will meet monthly for a weekend.

“Like all things school-related, it’s good to have excellent professors,” Deacon Strain said. “The program is through St. Meinrad and the program they’ve put together is excellent in my opinion. We learn all sorts of aspects of theology, church teaching, several classes on the Bible itself, salvation, the Trinity, the Eucharist, all sorts of aspects of the church, we had class for it.”

Ordination will come in 2028.

This diaconate cohort will also offer theological instruction in Spanish for the first time, Deacon Mobley said.

“We recognize that growing in theology and writing is hard in one’s native tongue so we are running a pilot program to run a combined program of Spanish and English,” he said. “A lot of our activities will be together in English but when it’s time to go to the classroom, some people will go to the English classroom and some will go to the Spanish language classroom.”

To learn more about joining the next diaconate cohort, contact the Diaconate Office at 636-0296 or diaconate@archlou.org. General information about canonical requirements can be found online at https://www.archlou.org/overview-of-admissions-and-formation/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *