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Archdiocese Announces Revision of Deacon Formation Program New Design Responds to Evolving Role of Deacons

The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced a major revision of the program which trains men for ordination as deacons. The Deacon Formation Program, which is administered by the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, will follow a new design more similar to the way priests are prepared for ordination.

“The new program will follow the same calendar and be very similar in its sequence of courses to what is done in the seminary program,” said Deacon Bob Puhala, Director of Deacon Formation. “Diaconal ministry is ordained ministry, so following some of the approaches of the seminary which have been proven to be effective simply makes good sense.” The new program will focus on the candidate’s development of a strong identity as an ordained minister which, in turn, will integrate his mission and ministry. Intellectual formation will be expanded, especially as deacons are more often called upon to preach at Mass and assume a teaching role in the parish.

The decision to revise the program was initiated by the publication of a new set of norms from the Holy See and the U.S. Bishops. These norms recognize the evolution of the diaconate in the years since it was reestablished as a permanent order in the Church by the Second Vatican Council. “With forty years of experience since the Council, we can re-evaluate the formational goals of our programs in light of the lived experience of deacons and their wives,” said Father Thomas Baima, the Provost of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, who oversees all the archdiocesan formation programs. “This is the third revision of the program in four decades. Each time, the program has been strengthened.”

The University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary is the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition to the seminary program, USML offers degree programs to men and women through its Ecclesiastical Faculty and Liturgical Institute. The Department of Ministerial and Continuing Education at Mundelein offers training and development for a wide variety of church roles. These include a volunteer lay ministry program, Called and Gifted, as well as graduate formation for lay ecclesial ministers such as Pastoral Associates and Directors of Religious Education. Its Ongoing Formation Program prepares priests to assume the office of pastor and offers certificates in catechetical leadership for principals and coordinators of religious education or youth ministry. It also offers the basic certificate for catechists. The Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral offers lay ministry, deacon and ongoing formation programs in Spanish.

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