Men interested in being in the first class of permanent deacons to begin formation since Bishop Koenig’s arrival are invited to information nights that will be held at parishes throughout the diocese beginning April 18 at Holy Cross in Dover.
The five-year formation program will begin in May 2024 and consists of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation, according to Deacon Phil Belt, director of the diocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate. Applicants must be at least 30 and no older than 62 by March 2024, and they “must demonstrate a zeal for service to God’s people.”
The last class of permanent deacons was ordained in August 2021. Normally, Deacon Belt said, the next class would begin formation in the final year of formation for the previous class, but Bishop Malooly had submitted his resignation to the Vatican and wanted the next bishop to make the decision on when the next group of deacons would come.
Deacon Belt was appointed to his position last August, about the same time Bishop Koenig decided to go ahead with a new class of permanent deacons.
“It was all coincidental. Basically, I was appointed, and he decided he wanted to go forward with a class at the same time,” he said.
Much of the formation will be the same, but not all, he continued.
“What has changed is the formation of those deacons, of those men who want to be deacons,” Deacon Belt said. “In the past, the last four cohorts, we have used St. Meinrad Archabbey as the provider of the formation classes. This time, we’re switching over to the Josephinum Diaconate Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
“They’re both great programs.”
JDI offers its classes in three trimesters per year, with two classes per. St. Meinrad had its classes on weekends throughout the year. The Josephinum, part of the Pontifical College Josephinum, also does its classes online, which presents some opportunities for the Diocese of Wilmington.
“We are then challenged to bring these men together so they can bond. We have some other activities planned for while they’re in class. We’ll have a session, normally each week, called a colloquy,” Deacon Belt said.
The JDI will take care of the academics, he said, while the diocese provides the other three pillars, Belt said. The men and their spouses will get to know each other on a deeper level.
Another change under Bishop Koenig is that men who show interest can take part in the beginning part of the formation without applying. They can do the activities until having to begin the application process in November or December, he said. They would be able to begin the formal instruction next May.
Wives are encouraged to attend. They will have to go through the formation sessions held by the diocese, Deacon Belt said. There will be 13 of them over the next year, then once every six weeks during academic instruction. The women have the option of going through the academic portion of the formation for free if it is not for credit. Only if they want academic credit will it cost the spouse anything.
- All of the information sessions run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The locations are as follows:
- April 18: Holy Cross Church, St. Matthew/St. Mark Meeting Rooms, 631 S. State St., Dover
- April 19: St. Francis de Sales Parish, Mercy House, 535 Riverside Drive, Salisbury, Md.
- April 20: St. John the Beloved Parish, Bosco Room, 907 Milltown Road, Wilmington
- May 9: St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, 2431 Frazer Road, Newark
- May 10: Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, large meeting room, 1214 S. Washington St., Easton, Md.
- May 11: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Classroom 17, 4701 Weldin Road, Wilmington
For more information or to reserve a spot at an information night, call the Office of the Permanent Diaconate at (302) 573-2390.