Diaconate Formation

St. Augustine's Seminary has provided a formation program for candidates for ordination to the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Toronto since 1972. The program is under the general direction of the President and Rector of the Seminary.

The Program 

The program consists of a propaedeutic or spiritual year and four years of formation. 

Propaedeutic Year 

The one year propaedeutic period is an aspirancy year of prayer, study, and discernment. Aspirants and their wives pray the Divine Office, engage in spiritual exercises including holy hours, study the Catechism, 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’s reflection and discernment of his calling. At the end of the propaedeutic period, aspirants with their wives confirm their discernment as to whether the aspirants 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 Program 

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 the Catholic Christian faith. The candidates practice methods of prayer, contemplation, and discernment.  The program requires all candidates to see a spiritual direction and to make an annual retreat given through the diaconate formation program..

The academic formation process is organized through a Diploma in Theological Studies program. That curriculum encompasses ten foundational courses in the Old Testament, New Testament, Christology, Ecclesiology, Theological Anthropology, Moral Theology and Ethics, Sacraments, and Spirituality, in addition to co-curricular courses in Pastoral Ministry, Field Placement, and Liturgical Praxis. 

The pastoral formation process involves pastoral ministry, counselling, and spiritual direction as part of the diploma program. In addition, in preparation for their charitable ministry, the men participate in a minimum six month Supervised Pastoral Placement Experience under the guidance of a supervisor. . In preparation for the ministry of preaching, candidates participate e in an ongoing proclamation and preaching practicum at the seminary beginning in year one, take a course in homiletics, and in their fourth year preach reflections at a daily Mass in their parishes. 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 engage in a women's program specifically geared to each year of the formation process. That program includes 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 Acoylte, 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.

Admission Requirements

Those interested in applying should call the Office of Clergy Personnel Catholic Pastoral Centre (416) 934-3400 Ext. 304. That office will explain the application process, conduct a telephone interview, and specify the required supporting documentation. The admissions committee will inform applicants in the spring preceding a fall start-up as to whether or not they have been accepted into the propaedeutic year.

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