Diaconate Formation

St. Augustine’s Seminary’s Diaconate Formation Program prepares candidates for ordination as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  The program includes both a propaedeutic year of intensive discernment (once a month on Saturdays) for aspirants and four years of formation for candidates. The program is designed in conformity with The Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons. The Coordinating Director of Diaconate Formation in consultation with the Rector organizes the various aspects of the program. Members of the formation team include experienced deacons, their wives, professors, supervisors, facilitators, and a chaplain.

Admission Requirements

  1. No impediments as outlined in Canon Law.
  2. Completion of the Propaedeutic Year
  3. Acceptance by the Admission’s committee
  4. Completion of the Academic Application Form with official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  5. Bachelor’s degree or non-traditional student with an appropriate background.

The Program

The program consists of a propaedeutic or spiritual year and four years of formation. Those interested in applying should call the Office of Clergy Personnel Catholic Pastoral Centre, (416) 934-3400 x304. That office will explain the application process and what documents are required for it. The Admissions Committee will inform preceding a fall start-up as to whether or not they have been accepted into the propaedeutic year.

Propaedeutic Year

The one-year propaedeutic period is an aspirancy year of prayer, study and discernment. It is offered every second year. Aspirants and their wives pray the Divine Office, engage in spiritual exercises including holy hours, study the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read Church documents on the diaconate, discuss the diaconate with deacons and their wives, and enter into discussions with each other on questions concerning the diaconate.

The various facets of the propaedeutic year inform each aspirant couple’s reflection and discernment. At the end of the propaedeutic stage, aspirants confirm their discernment as to whether they want to become candidates. The Admissions Committee will on its part discern which of these aspirants will enter the four-year formation program.

Four-Year Formation Period

Candidates attend one weekend a month from September to June over four years at St. Augustine’s Seminary for spiritual, academic, pastoral and human formation. In addition, they meet in small groups weekly for prayer, study, discussion, reflection and continuing discernment.

This four-year program integrates the spiritual, academic, pastoral and human dimensions into a preparation that is vital for a person seeking a life of commitment to Church service. Such preparation and integration fosters a spirit of community among the candidates and their families.

The spiritual formation process under the direction of a chaplain integrates the doctrinal, theological, Biblical and ministerial development for the expression of a life lived in a Catholic Christian faith. The candidates practice methods of prayer, contemplation and discernment. The program requires all candidates to see a spiritual director and to make an annual retreat given through the Diaconate Formation Program.

That curriculum encompasses ten foundational courses in the Old Testament, New Testament, Christology, Ecclesiology, Theological Anthropology, Moral Theology and Ethics, Pastoral Ministry, Liturgy, Sacraments, and Spirituality in addition to co-curricular courses in pastoral ministry, field education, liturgical presidency, and a study of the social teachings of the Church.

The pastoral formation process involves courses in pastoral ministry, counselling and spiritual direction as part of the diploma program. In addition, in preparation for their charitable ministry, candidates participate in a minimum six-month Supervised Pastoral Placement Experience under the guidance of a supervisor. Candidates participate in a proclamation and preaching practicum throughout the four years of the formation program. To improve their future ministry of preaching, candidates are given opportunities to prepare and preach reflections in their parishes under specific conditions with the permission of the Archbishop. This takes place in the fourth year of the program. Finally, candidates engage in liturgical praxis preparing them for their roles in liturgy.

The human formation process is engaged in the weekly group meetings with a mentor couple. The candidates and their wives build relationships with their mentors and each other as they develop the interpersonal and human skills essential to them as candidates and to ministry. In addition, on Seminary weekends, candidates meet for communal prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Benediction and meals with the seminarians. They come together for other events at the Seminary throughout the year that build community.

Wives of candidates participate in an ongoing women’s program, specific to each year of formation. That program includes regular group sessions, spiritual direction and retreats

In the second year of formation, candidates are instituted to the Ministry of Lector and in their third year, to the Ministry of Acolyte. By December of their fourth year, the candidates, having exercised the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte, as well as having discerned their call and ministry of service, publicly express their intention to seek ordination through the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Ordination to the Diaconate and the Profession of Faith.

At the end of the fourth year, conditional upon fulfillment of all program requirements, the written consent of the candidate’s wife, the recommendation of the Formation Committee and the Director of the Formation Program, and with the Archbishop’s approval, the candidates are ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon.

Diaconate Formation Program - Diploma in Theological Studies Course Requirements 

Core Courses: [10]

  • Foundations of Theology
  • Introduction to New Testament
  • Introduction to Old Testament
  • Christology and Homiletics
  • Ecclesiology
  • Moral Theology
  • Pastoral Norms on Marriage
  • Sacraments
  • Spirituality of Pastoral Ministry
  • Theological Anthropology 

Plus the following Co-Curricular Courses: [3]

  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Field Education
  • Liturgical Presidency
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