I. Requirements for inquirers

  1. Meet with your pastor to express your interest in the formation program.
  2. A letter confirming commitment and financial support will need to be signed by the pastor.
  3. Once this letter has been received, the inquirer should contact the Diaconate Office to begin the application process.
  4. An applicant must be 30 years of age to apply for the diaconate formation program to ensure that the minimum age of 35 is reached prior to ordination.
  5. The applicant cannot be over the age of 60 at the time of application.
  6. Actively involved in parish ministry for a minimum of 3 years.
  7. The following USCCB mandated stipulations also apply:
    • Applicants recently married or widowed will not be accepted into formation until they reach the fifth anniversary of their status.
    • Applicants having recently entered the Catholic Church fully must reach their fifth anniversary of completing their initiation into the Church.
  8. A minimum of a High School diploma or GED.
  9. In good standing with the Church.
  10. There is a set limit of two applicants per parish (due to financial commitment).
  11. If the inquirer (and parish) meets these requirements, it is encouraged that the pastor, priest, or a member of the parish council meets with the inquirer who is interested in formation and then makes a decision as to whether or not this inquirer should apply.

II. Scholastics, formation, and facilities

  1. Formation is a 5 ½ year program. This includes a nine month period of discernment as well as academic formation and practicums.
  2. Academic formation is done through Saint Leo University.
  3. The men in formation normally meet for class on the Third Saturday & Sunday of every month: Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (including Mass) and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  4. Classes are held at Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church, Columbia, SC.
  5. The men in formation will shadow their pastors, priests, and deacons in their various ministerial duties (e.g. hospital visits, funerals, wakes, baptisms, weddings, etc.).
  6. We ask the wives to attend all classes during the discernment year. We encourage them to attend classes at any time, but the bishop wishes that the wives attend at least four classes per academic year.
  7. If a man in formation needs to take a leave of absence, he will normally be invited to rejoin formation where he left off, with a different formation class.
  8. At the end of the school year, the Director of Formation sends each pastor the grades for his respective candidate(s).

III. Tuition

  1. The total cost of formation for each man in formation is paid in three parts:
    1. 1/3 is paid by the diocese
    2. 1/3 by the parish
    3. 1/3 by the man in formation
  2. St. Leo limits each class to 25, however, if space is available we invite wives to pursue a master’s degree along with the men. Wives who choose to take classes for a degree will be responsible for paying full tuition after the diocesan discount.

IV. Cost

For 2023-2024

Candidate tuition for the year is as follows:

  • Full tuition for the Master’s Program — $1,450 per year
  • Full tuition for the Undergraduate Program — $1,000 per year

The diocese pays St. Leo. The diocesan Office of Finance invoices each parish and student their portion. Candidates are billed approximately 1/3 of their total each semester. Payment is due upon receipt.

V. Ongoing Evaluations

  1. The Director of Formation, in consultation with the Director of the Permanent Diaconate, will evaluate each candidate annually.
  2. This evaluation will decide whether or not they will continue, or be guided into a year of discernment.
  3. Grades, participation, and involvement in their parish will be the determining factors for the evaluation.