I. Requirements for inquirers
- Meet with your pastor to express your interest in the formation program.
- A letter confirming commitment and financial support will need to be signed by the pastor.
- Once this letter has been received, the inquirer should contact the Diaconate Office to begin the application process.
- 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.
- The applicant cannot be over the age of 60 at the time of application.
- Actively involved in parish ministry for a minimum of 3 years.
- 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.
- A minimum of a High School diploma or GED.
- In good standing with the Church.
- There is a set limit of two applicants per parish (due to financial commitment).
- 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
- Formation is a 5 ½ year program. This includes a nine month period of discernment as well as academic formation and practicums.
- Academic formation is done through Saint Leo University. All professors have doctorates in theology.
- 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.
- Classes are held at Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church, Columbia, SC.
- We encourage the men in formation to shadow their pastors, priests, and deacons in their various ministerial duties (e.g. hospital visits, funerals, wakes, baptisms, weddings, etc.).
- 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.
- If a man in formation needs to take a leave of absence, he will be invited to rejoin formation with St. Leo where they left off, with a different formation class.
- At the end of the school year, the Director of Formation sends each pastor the grades for his respective candidate(s).
- The tuition for each man in formation is paid in three parts:
- 1/3 is paid by the diocese
- 1/3 by the parish
- 1/3 by the man in formation
- Saint Leo limits 25 cohorts per class, however, if space is available we invite wives to also pursue a Master’s Degree along with their husband. Wives who choose to take classes for a degree will be responsible for paying full tuition, with a 10% Diocese discount (Currently $3100.00 per year).
Candidate tuition for the year is as follows:
- Full tuition for the Master’s Program — $1,400 per year
- Full tuition for the Undergraduate Program — $950 per year
The diocese pays St. Leo, and in turn will invoice each parish and student their portion. Payment is due upon receipt. Below is the approximate schedule of payments:
|Payment Due Dates||Undergraduate||Graduate||Spouse|
V. Ongoing Evaluations
- The Director of Formation, in consultation with the Director of Deacons, will evaluate each candidate annually.
- This evaluation will decide whether or not they will continue, or be guided into a year of discernment.
- Grades, participation, and involvement in their parish will be the determining factors for the evaluation.