The Diaconate Formation Program

The Diaconate Formation Program in the Diocese of Springfield is a 4-year course of study at Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, MA.

Classes are held two nights per week from 6:30-9:30 pm, September through May and include some summer work.  An annual weekend retreat is also required.

Currently there are a total of 14 men in formation:  Six who are scheduled to be ordained in 2019 and eight who are scheduled to be ordained in 2021.



Application Process

There are several phases in the process to assist men discerning a vocation to the Diaconate.  Individuals are asked to approach the process as the beginning of a spiritual journey which may lead them to life as an ordained deacon.

  • Men interested in gaining more information are invited to attend an Information Meeting with their wives where details are provided about the Diaconate and the Formation Program.

  • After the Informational Meeting, we will schedule a meeting to hand out applications for the Diaconate Formation Program.

  • Applicants are asked to return the completed application form as well as other documentation such as Birth Certificates, Sacramental Records, Letters of Recommendation, School Transcripts and a passport photograph to the Office of the Diaconate.

  • The Formation Board of the Diaconate Formation Program reviews all applications thoroughly.  Letters are sent to each applicant notifying them of the Formation Board’s decision to either accept or decline their application for continuation in the process.


Selection Process

Psychological Testing

Applicants who are selected for continuation in the application process in the Diaconate Formation Program will be scheduled for psychological testing to determine their suitability.  The testing is conducted by a certified psychologist and the test results are reported to and reviewed by the Diaconate Formation Board.  The Formation Board will notify each applicant individually whether or not they will continue to the next stage of the process-Applicant Interviews.

Applicant Interviews

Applicant interviews are arranged with the applicants who have been selected for further continuation.  A designated time will be established for each applicant and his wife (if applicable) to meet with the Formation Board at the Bishop Marshall Center in Springfield.

Following the applicant interviews, a final review is conducted by the Formation Board to determine which of the remaining applicants will be accepted into the program.  Each applicant is notified by letter whether or not they will enter the next class in the Diaconate Formation Program.

Day of Reflection

Upon acceptance into the program, a Day of Reflection is held.  Aspirants and their wives (if applicable) will have time to meet their fellow classmates and their wives, as well as some of their instructors and also gain a further understanding of what they can expect over the next four years.



Upon completion of the application process, applicants who have been approved by the Formation Board will receive a letter from the Director of the Formation Program.  This letter will acknowledge their acceptance and outline what will follow over the next few months.

The applicants and their wives will meet as a group on a few occasions.  They will also meet some of their instructors at these meetings.

The next class is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2020.


Steps Along the Way

Upon entering the Diaconate Formation Program, men are considered Aspirants for the first year. At the completion of two years of Diaconate Formation, aspirants become Candidates for ordination.

Upon completion of three years, the class of 2017 men recived Lector & Acolyte on October 8, 2016.

Upon completion of three years, the class of 2017 men received Lector & Acolyte on October 8, 2016.

Class of 2017 with Bishop Rozanski after receiving  Lector & Acolyte on October 8, 2016 – Pictured above, from left to right:  Adalberto Santiago-Martinez, Gerald Solitario, John Fox, David Bergeron, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, Gilbert St. George-Sorel, Lino Sanmiguel, Dave Picard,  Rodney Patten and Jose Rivera.

At the completion of three years of Diaconate Formation, candidates are advanced to Lector and Acolyte.  This is the final ceremony before ordination.


At the end of four years of Diaconate Formation, men are ordained Permanent Deacons.

Class of 2017

On May 20, 2017, Bishop Rozanski ordained nine new deacons. From left to right: Rodney Patten, Jose Rivera, David Bergeron, Jr., John Fox, Lino Sanmiguel, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, Gilbert St. George-Sorel, David Picard Gerald Solitario and Adalberto Santiago-Martinez.

It is recommended that deacons serve in a second capacity within the Diocese, if at all possible. For example, a deacon may be assigned to a parish as well as assisting in the Tribunal Office of the Diocese.


Continuing Formation and Education

Upon ordination all new deacons are required by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as outlined in the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, to have Continuing Formation for three years.

The program for the newly ordained deacons extends for three years after ordination. In their initial assignments, each newly ordained deacon should be “carefully supervised by an exemplary pastor” so that he can begin his ministry “in a positive and supportive manner.” In the Diocese of Springfield this issue should be addressed in the initial service agreement discussion with his “mentor deacon” to whom he can go for advice and assistance (cf batuibak Directory n. 46 and n. 251).

Like all their brother deacons, the newly ordained are encouraged to seek spiritual direction. They are required to attend a retreat annually and to seek spiritual direction. They are required to attend a retreat annually and to fulfill twelve hours of continuing education as part of their ongoing formation.


Continuing Education & Retreats

After Continuing Formation has been completed, each deacon is still required to fulfill twelve hours of continuing education each year and participate in an annual retreat. Retreats may be attended individually or with other deacons during diocesan sponsored retreats. Every third year, a diocesan sponsored Husband & Wife Retreat is held for the deacons and their wives.