WASHINGTON (March 23, 2005)—The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States is now available from USCCB Publishing.
The national directory addresses the dimensions and perspectives in the formation of deacons and the model standards for the formation, ministry and life of deacons in this country. It is intended to be utilized when preparing or updating a diaconate program in formulating policies for the ministry and life of deacons.
The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States was approved by the Bishops in June, 2003, and received the subsequent recognitio of the Holy See. Bishop Frederick F. Campbell of Columbus is Chair of the Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate.
Since the renewal of the diaconate as a permanent order of ordained ministry following the Second Vatican Council, the number of deacons serving around the world has skyrocketed to more than 30,000. Approximately 15,000 deacons minister in the United States. Since 1968 the Bishops of the United States have expressed their interest in this ministry through the establishment of a standing committee on the diaconate and a secretariat to support the work of the committee in developing and nurturing the ministry of deacons. Twice before, in 1971 and again in 1984, the bishops promulgated guidelines for the formation of deacons in the United States.
"With the release of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, the bishops have taken us to a new level of integration and maturation in the life of the diaconate," said Deacon William T. Ditewig, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Secretariat for the Diaconate.
"This is more than a simple set of guidelines to be followed for the formation of deacons; rather, it describes how the diaconate itself participates in the very sacramental nature of a sacramental church," Deacon Ditewig said. "Rather than 'guidelines,' this text is a 'Directory,' much like other directories in the life of the Church. It offers principles, norms and pastoral applications for further particular development within each diocese."
Deacon Ditewig said the Directory draws its inspiration from Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. "It grounds formation of deacons in the now classic human dimension, spiritual dimension, intellectual dimension and pastoral dimension," he said. Specific examples and standards are offered to assist bishops in developing the comprehensive formation programs necessary for adequate preparation of permanent deacons around the country.
"This is a work written and prepared by the bishops for use by bishops," Deacon Ditewig said. "As such it is a document fraternal in tone and designed as a work offered for mutual support and collaboration. From biblical times to today, the ministry of deacons has been most closely linked with the apostolic ministry of bishops; this document is the latest expression of that relationship as exercised in the United States."
The National Directory also includes the secondary documents Basic Standards for Readiness and Visit of Consultation Teams to Diocesan Permanent Diaconate Formation Programs.
The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, a 240-page paperback, publication no. 5-368, sells for $19.95 (Resource Member Price $11.97).