The Propaedeutic Year

The Propaedeutic Year – propaedeutic comes from the Greek which means before teaching - is a year of initial discernment for candidates who feel they may have a call to vocation as a permanent deacon. During the Propaedeutic Year, candidates are guided in their discernment of vocation

The Induction Day and the four weekends are held at the Conforti Institute, Calder Avenue, Coatbridge ML5 4JS, a conference and training centre owned by the Xaverian Missionaries.  The induction day is led by Deacon Jim Aitken who works in Motherwell Diocese and Gordon Graham from the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh and myself.  In addition to Deacons Jim and Gordon, there are other session leaders during each weekend.

The induction day begins at 10.00 am and concludes by 4.00 pm. The timetable for each of the four weekends starts with Supper at 6/30 pm on the Friday evening and concludes about 2.00 pm on Sunday afternoon. Candidate’s wives are invited to the Induction Day and to weekends 2 and 4.

At the conclusion of the Propaedeutic Year, the Propaedeutic Team will write an assessment for Diocesan Bishops and Directors on the candidates’ participation in the propaedeutic period, their apparent strengths and weaknesses and to recommend whether or not the candidate should be accepted on the study course of formation.

However, no matter what the recommendation the Propaedeutic Team makes, the diocesan Bishop has the final say.

Aims and Programme for the Propaedeutic Year


Induction Day: August

  • the induction day involves candidates and their wives

  • an overview of five years of formation with focus on the propaedeutic year.

  • a sharing by deacons and their wives about the life and ministry.

  • an opportunity for candidates and wives to explore informally some of the issues and questions they may have,

  • a time of prayer and reflection.

  • to introduce and explain the concept of psychological accompaniment for each candidate

  • introduce the candidates to an essay question and reading in preparation for the third weekend.

At all weekends:
  • to introduce candidates to the public celebration of morning, evening and night prayer of the Church.

  • to instruct candidates to reflect on the preparation of Mass and the role of the deacon at Mass.

  • to engender a sense of community among the candidates particularly by sharing with one another the call they have experienced.

  • to have two deacons (with their wives at the second and fourth weekends) to share their life and ministry.

  • Candidates to reflect on their human and person development

Weekend One: October
  • the theme of the weekend is the spirituality and ministry of the diaconate.

  • to develop the role of spiritual and psychological accompaniment as part of the discernment process

  • to reflect on the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons as a whole but especially on the spirituality of a deacon

  • to introduce the candidates to Lectio Divina as a source of prayer recommended to deacons

  • to introduce candidates to Examen as a source of prayer

Weekend Two: December
  • the theme of the weekend is 'Who am I that God should choose me?'

  • to develop a sense of self-awareness for each candidate especially in their role as ministers working within a parish setting.

  • as this weekend takes place in December, there is an introduction to the Liturgical season and specific reflection on Advent.

Weekend Three: February
  • the theme of this weekend is the Scottish Course of Formation with an emphasis on the Maryvale course of studies.

  • to have an inputs from those concerned with the Scottish Course of Formation to give candidates a complete understanding of what is expected of them and looking at the study weekends, summer school and homiletic weekend.

  • this weekend should leave candidates in no doubt about what they will be facing over the next four years.

Weekend Four: April
  • the theme of this weekend is to consider the impact of the diaconate on marriage and family life.

  • give the candidates their wives a methodology of communication from Marriage Encounter to help them reflect and share together on the issues that the course of formation and ordination will impact on their marriage and family life.

  • to reinforce the primacy of marriage as their first vocation

  • evaluate the propaedeutic period and to look at the next phase of their formation.