Program Information

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Program Information

Formation Program for New Permanent Deacons

The redevelopment of a formation program for the Holy Order of Deacons is a response by our bishop to a need for additional permanent deacons in the Diocese of Manchester. It is also a specific response to the request from men living throughout the diocese who have expressed an interest in the vocation of deacon.

The Deacon Formation Office is located at the Diocesan Administration Building, 153 Ash Street, Manchester, NH 03104-4396. The bishop has also appointed a Deacon Advisory Board.

Concerning Applicants

If you are considering this vocation, please contact us at any time at Here is what the Formation Board will be looking for in the men who apply:

To become a permanent deacon, the applicant must approach formation convinced of his call by God to serve the Church as an ordained deacon. His response to a call to the diaconate is the primary consideration for eligibility. The Deacon Formation Policy Board will assist each applicant in the initial discernment of that vocation.

The church is deeply concerned about supporting marriage and family life. Therefore, due to the serious commitment of time that formation and ministry will involve, applicants with young children may be asked to re-examine their decision to pursue formation for the permanent diaconate at this time.

Church law requires that the applicant be no younger than thirty-five (35) years of age at the time of ordination and therefore, no younger than thirty-one (31) years of age at the time he is accepted as a candidate for formation.

While there is no maximum age established for a candidate, the applicant’s health and suitability must be such that there is a good probability he will be able to serve in assigned ministry as permanent deacon for a period of fifteen (15) years. Therefore a candidate should be approximately sixty (60) years of age upon ordination.
Program Structure and Content

The development of the formation program has been guided by the norms contained in The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (USCCB); Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons (Congregation for Catholic Education); and the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons (Congregation for the Clergy). The principal goal is to promote formation of the whole person by providing a program that integrates four pillars:


There are two parts to a four-year formation program:

Aspirancy. The Aspirancy year consists of formal preparation in which the discernment of the aspirant’s potential vocation is aided by his family, his pastor, a spiritual director, and the formation team. During that year, participants will begin formation by meeting for weekend seminars that will explore various topics of personal and spiritual development, spiritual direction, other practices designed to enhance the discernment process, and a series of foundation courses in scripture and theology.

Candidacy. Candidacy begins at the end of the Aspirancy year. A decision will be made whether or not the aspirant will be recommended to continue into three additional years of academic, spiritual, and pastoral formation. In years two, three, and four, the candidate will participate in a rigorous academic program.
It is important to understand that the Permanent Deacon Formation of the Diocese of Manchester is NOT a degree program. A Certificate of Academic Completion will be awarded upon successful completion of the academic requirements. Most of these courses will be offered in a classroom setting. Some, during the mid-winter months, will be offered through the STEP online program from the University of Notre Dame.

CLICK HERE for the Formation Program at a Glance

Other Elements of Formation Include:

Annual Retreat
Practicum experiences in liturgy
Internship in ministry in the 4th year
Instruction and practice in homiletics
Regular spiritual direction
Formation Weekends Develop the Whole Person

“Formation Weekends” are a critical part of the training for new deacons, because the extended time spent in community, integrates spiritual, pastoral, and human elements into what might otherwise be just an academic preparation. The weekend gatherings bridge what is learned in the classroom to ways that develop the whole person. “Training” for ministry becomes “formation” for ministry, not just information, but also conformation. Candidates will engage in a number of weekend workshops each year dealing with:

Leadership and Prayer
Ministry of Permanent Deacon
Parish Administration
Religious Education

How do I find out more about becoming a Deacon?

Introduction to the Program
Frequently Asked Questions