Sometimes when a bishop dies or retires, certain things are put on hold until the new bishop takes over. Often, this includes a decision about the diaconate: should we start another formation class, or wait until the new bishop is here? (Obviously, in my own opinion, there should be no question that things should continue, just as seminarians are not pulled from seminaries to see if the new bishop wants priests. But that's a different post!)
I once served on a diocesan staff where this situation took place. Well, the new bishop took over and announced to us that "if we're going to do the diaconate in this diocese, we're going to do it right, or not at all." Well that stirred things up! What does it mean to "do diaconate right"?
1) Select only those applicants who have the gifts and abilities to be servant-leaders across the whole range of diaconal ministry.
2) Approach the diaconate with the same energy and commitment given to the presbyterate.
3) Recognition by all that the deacon is not a part-time minister.
4) Deacons must be correctly perceived as being ordained for service to the entire diocese, not simply to a parish.
5) There needs to be a solid framework of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions from the moment an applicant enters formation throughout his active ministerial career.
Is your diocese "doing it right"? What do you think? What would you add, substract or modify?