Phone: 216-696-6525

Toll Free: 1-800-869-6525

Address: 1404 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114

Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Nelson J. Perez
Offices Clergy & Religious Diaconate Program

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Diaconate Program

The Diaconate Formation Program collaborates with the Bishop in a ministry of service in forming men for permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Cleveland.

The Diaconate Formation Office will provide an environment through which the Aspirancy and Candidate Path of ongoing discernment and formation for the Permanent Diaconate can thrive in the Diocese of Cleveland.

It is expected that the individual discerning a vocational call will cooperate with God’s grace during this time of discernment.

The Diaconate Formation Office is responsible for the formation of men seeking to pursue a vocation to the permanent diaconate. It is our mission to inform and guide applicants in vocation discernment during the period of Aspirancy and Candidacy and to provide the human, spiritual, pastoral and academic formation to aspirants and candidates for possible ordination as Deacons, and appropriate formation and support to their wives (if married) and families.

Our goal is to enable men to demonstrate the possibility of a diaconal vocation and an appropriate level of readiness for eventual selection to Holy Orders.

Please use our Contact Form to reach the program's director, Deacon David Kushner.


The permanent diaconate is a distinct ordained ministry of the Church. Permanent Deacons are ordained by the Bishop for service to the Church. As sacramental signs of the servant God, fulfilled in Christ, Deacons are called to serve the Church and the community in three areas:the Ministry of the Word of God, the Ministry of the Liturgy/Worship, and the Ministry of Charity and Justice. Deacons function in all three areas: service in the transmission of the Word, service in the celebration of the sacraments and service in the community’s active love.

Ministry of Charity and Justice is the foundation for diaconal ministry. It involves uncovering the needs of those in the community and motivating the laity to greater involvement in these ministries. As a Minister of the Word, the Deacon is called upon to proclaim the Gospel in word and action. He is to challenge others to a life modeled on that of Christ. As a Minister of Worship, the Deacon assists the Priest at the Eucharistic Liturgy, bringing the needs of the people to the celebration. He also may witness marriages and preside at baptisms and funerals outside of Mass.

The formation program during Aspirancy and Candidacy seeks to:

  • be a process for continuing discernment of the possibility of an authentic call from God to the Order of Deacon;
  • provide human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, family and ministerial formation;
  • prepare one for the formal acceptance to Candidacy and to be instituted in the ministries of Lector and Acolyte

provide the holistic formation necessary to prepare candidates for ordained ministry as a Deacon.


The aspirancy and formation program is designed to engage the wives and families as well as the men, to include input, evaluation and ministerial supervision from the parish staff and community and to connect the aspirants and candidates and their families with the community of the already ordained and their families. In addition to spiritual exercises and retreats, theological courses, pastoral ministry and liturgical practicums, the formation program is designed to involve these men in active ministry in service to the Church from the very beginning. The Shadowing experiences during the aspirancy period offer a man the opportunity to experience a “taste” of the various ministries in which Deacons serve within the three ministerial areas of Word, Liturgy, and Charity. Candidates engage in field education experiences throughout the diocese to broaden their view of the diocese and ministry.

Ordination, among other things, sacramentalizes diaconal ministry which already is witnessed in the aspirant’s/candidate’s pastoral, spiritual and faith commitment. While not measured in terms of a certain period of time, but in terms of human, spiritual, academic and pastoral skill development and in the discernment of an authentic call to Orders, formation prior to ordination will take at least five years (Aspirancy & Candidacy). Active ministry, not just beginning, is expected to be evident in a person’s life, not just beginning, and is an integral part of formation. During the process, the Church will celebrate three Rites: Acceptance to Candidacy, Institution to the Ministry of Lector and Institution to the Ministry of Acolyte. Once instituted, the Candidate will exercise these ministries.

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