Because most permanent deacons are married, their wives, after going through the formation program with their husbands, often enter into ministry with them. This team approach is especially suited to ministries like marriage and baptism preparation. This partnering in ministry is also an affirmation of the sacrament of marriage as a dimension of diaconal ministry for married deacons.
The formation process has spiritual, academic, field education, group process and skill building elements. The goal of the process is to facilitate the growth of all individuals in preparation for greater service to the Church. The Diocese of San Jose and Santa Clara University have collaborated over the last four years for academic formation. Both deacon candidates and advanced lay leaders attend classes in the Pastoral Ministries Program at Santa Clara University.
The area of study includes Theology, Scripture, the Church, Canon Law, Moral Theology and Ecclesiology. Furthermore, the entire group gathers (with their spouses if they are married) one Saturday each month for additional formation.
Retreats, spiritual direction and prayer are essential to the comprehensive four-year program. This comprehensive process of formation is one indication of not only the importance of this ministry within the Church, but also the commitment Bishop Patrick McGrath has made to ensure that the people of the Diocese of San Jose are well served by those who have been called by God to serve as ordained ministries.