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In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, and single men may be ordained with a commitment to celibacy.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations supports the activities of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations in the restoration of the Diaconate and the development of diaconal ministry. It also assists and coordinates the development of diaconal formation programs on the diocesan and national levels. The Secretariat assists the General Secretary of the USCCB in responding to all matters concerning the ministry of deacons in the Church in the United States. It provides services and liaison support to national organizations and directors of diocesan diaconate offices.
2019 Annual Theme for the Ongoing Formation of Clergy: Co-responsibility with the Laity for the Mission of the Church
The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of Priests, in describing pastoral formation, states: “Pastoral formation is not divorced from intellectual or theological education. It is, however, the more practical side of theology. ‘As pastors of the people of God in America, priests must also be alert to the challenges of the world today and sensitive to the problems and hopes of their people, sharing their experiences and growing, above all, in solidarity towards the poor. They should be careful to discern the charisms and strengths of the faithful who might be leaders in the community, listening to them and through dialogue encouraging their participation and co-responsibility’” (Ecclesia in America, no. 39).
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