Christendom’s Notre Dame Graduate School has been selected by Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, to provide theological formation for candidates to the diocese’s Permanent Diaconate Formation Program. Bishop Loverde announced last October in the Arlington Catholic Herald that he was reviving the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program and that NDGS would start theology classes for the candidates in January 2007.
The candidates will be taking two courses per semester for four years. The deacon candidates will have their own classes separate from other NDGS students in order to help build community among the candidates and to enable the professor to orient the class towards this particular vocation. The courses, in accord with the directives of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, will include fundamental, doctrinal, spiritual, sacramental, and moral theology, philosophy, Scripture, patristic, Church history, and liturgy. The first class of candidates is scheduled for ordination in December 2010. It is expected that a new class will begin each year for the next few years. Then once every two years. The Christendom Graduate School will need more professors as the need for extra classes increase. Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Kristin Burns is hoping to convince some of Arlington’s fine diocesan priests to help with this endeavor.
Rev. Frank J. Ready, Vicar General for Pastoral Services of the Arlington Diocese, is the Director of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program. From the dozens of applications he has received, a review board of permanent deacons will help select those who will be presented to the bishop to be aspirants beginning this June. The aspirancy period, during this coming summer and fall, will concentrate on spiritual formation, educating the aspirants about the vocation and responsibilities of the permanent diaconate, and discerning of the aspirants as to their vocation.
The Graduate School will teach its prerequisite Introduction to Theology course to the aspirants during this period. The aspirants selected to be deacon candidates in December will start the 4-year theological formation program at NDGS in January of 2007.
NDGS trained deacon candidates in the eighties, as the Notre Dame Apostolic Catechetical Institute (NDI). The former Bishop of Arlington, Bishop Keating, announced a moratorium on the program in 1985. The last permanent deacons ordained in the diocese were in 1989. Some of those men have died or retired, and there is now a great need for permanent deacons in such a fast-growing diocese, even one so blessed with vocations to the priesthood. “We are excited to be serving the diocese in this way again,” said Dean Burns. “I guarantee that they will receive an excellent formation.”