Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Twenty-three applicants accepted into Inquirer Stage of diocese’s Deacon Formation Program

the Inland Register

(From the Sept. 11, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

With the arrival of an Aug. 1 deadline for making application to explore and discern a vocation to the permanent diaconate, the Spokane Diocese’s Deacon Formation Program has taken another significant step forward. The program’s Screening Committee met Saturday, Aug. 23, to review the applications of 37 men who have sought acceptance into the Inquirer Stage of the program.

Bishop Skylstad has accepted the recommendation of the committee that 23 of the applicants be accepted. They come from parishes in Brewster, Colville, Inchelium, Newport, Pasco, Pullman, Spokane, Twisp, and Walla Walla.

The acceptance letter sent by Father Michael Savelesky, pastor of Spokane’s Assumption Parish and Director of Deacon Formation, explained, “Acceptance into the Inquirer Stage does not represent acceptance into the Deacon Formation Program itself. This first five-month stage – as well as the five-month Aspirant Stage which follows it – extends the actual screening process over a period of time in order to allow both the Inquirer-Aspirant as well as program leadership to engage in a mutual dialogue regarding readiness and qualification for formation for diaconal ministry.”

During these stages, formal psychological and medical screening will take place, as well as more intensified interviewing and consultation of references.

“This extended stage-by-stage approach gives the screening process a more public dimension as the participants are “seen in action” and also as the participants become known to priests, deacons and laity,” he said.

With acceptance into this initial stage of inquiry, formal participation in deacon formation has not yet occurred. The Inquirers are still “looking into” the life and ministry of a permanent deacon in the Church. Further application, interview and selection remains ahead.

According to Father Savelesky, the Screening Committee considered several factors in reaching its recommendations. In addition to considering the applicant’s history of service, sense of vocation, personal qualification and support from the Christian community, the committee also had to consider the limitation of space and its relation to effective teaching/formation.

“The committee simply could not accept all applicants at this time,” he said. “This does not necessarily foreclose acceptance into a future ‘class” of participants by those who are not part of the Inquirer group. Realistically, however, at least four years will pass before another group is selected.”

“ I hope that all 37 men who presented themselves for consideration will continue to serve the needs of the People of God with the kind of love and generosity which were so obvious to those of us who conducted interviews and read scores of reference letters,” he wrote to the applicants.

The Screening Committee is composed of Father Savelesky, another priest, four deacons, two lay women (including the wife of a deacon), and a layman. Eventually a woman Religious and a professional counselor / psychologist will be added to the group as it provides continuing oversight of the screening process.

Once accepted into the actual three-year Deacon Formation Program, a separate Formation Team assumes oversight and guides the selected participants through preparation toward eventual ordination.

The first session in the Inquirer Stage is scheduled to begin Saturday, Sept. 20, at Assumption Parish, Spokane.

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