The Institute for Diaconate Formation

The Institute for Diaconate Formation (IDF) is the formation program that prepares men for ordination as permanent deacons (single or married) for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The five-year long program is structured according to the norms of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States (US Bishops, 2004), the Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, and the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons (Congregation for Catholic Education and Congregation for the Clergy, 1998). Additionally, formation is ordered around four pillars of formation - human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral - in the context of the ongoing discernment of the vocation to diaconal ministry and the call to Holy Orders. 

The context for this discernment and formation is the deacon’s three-fold ministry as Servant of the Word, Servant of the Eucharistic Mystery, and Servant of the Charity of Christ. In short, the deacon is the embodied sacrament and icon of Christ’s own Servant Mysteries, his diakonia of obedient listening to the Father’s will, and response to the needs of the New Evangelization. 

The Institute for Diaconate Formation is also responsible for the post-ordination formation of deacons.

If you are considering this vocation, your first step is to attend a Diaconate Inquiry Series

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is looking for men between the ages of 30 and 59 (at the time of application), single or married, to serve as Christ serves:

"The Living Icon of Christ the Servant in the Ministry of the Word, of Sacrament, of Charity" 

In this four-part series, discerners and their wives (if applicable) will learn about the Vocation of the Permanent Diaconate and the Institute for Diaconate Formation.

* What is the Permanent Diaconate?
* Who can become a deacon?
* What does a deacon do?
* What roles do the wife and family have?
* How does one discern and respond to the Lord's call to Holy Orders?
* What prerequisites are needed?
* What is the application, discernment, and formation process?

To apply to the formation program, you must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien with a green card and a permanent resident in this Archdiocese.  

If you wish to speak to someone before registering for this series,
contact Deacon Joseph Michalak at or (651) 962-6876.

Registration is Required:  
Register by contacting Shellee Leif at or call (651) 962-6891. 

Application Process for Admission to Aspirancy

Institute for Diaconate Formation

Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis


1.    Complete the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute or be enrolled as a current student.

You are welcome to attend the Diaconate Inquiry Sessions (see #2) to learn more about the diaconate vocation even if you are not already a participant in or graduate of the Catechetical Institute, but you must participate in the Catechetical Institute before you can formally apply to the Institute for Diaconate Formation. For more information on the Catechetical Institute, contact Shellee Leif at or 651-962-6891.

Other pre-requisites for acceptance into The Institute for Diaconate Formation include being VIRTUS certified, attending a Catherine of Siena “Called & Gifted” Spiritual Gifts Inventory seminar, and practicing the seven Catholic Watchman practices.  Details and instructions are included in the application.

2.   Attend the four-part Inquiry Sessions for the Institute for Diaconate Formation.

If you are married, your wife should also participate.

3.   Complete the Inquiry Questionnaire.  (Given at the Inquiry Sessions)

4.   Participate in an Inquiry Interview with the Coordinator of Applications and the Director of Diaconate Formation.

If you are married, your wife should also participate. This interview is for mutual discernment about whether to continue with the application process.

5.   Complete the Application for the Institute for Diaconate Formation

This Application includes gathering of necessary official documents, recommendations, medical assessment, background checks, autobiography, and Scripture reflections.  

6.   Participate in an interview with the Admissions Committee

This interview is for mutual discernment about whether you are to be recommended to the Archbishop for admission to the Aspirancy of the Institute for Diaconate Formation.

7.   Receive preliminary acceptance by the Archbishop into the Aspirancy of the Institute for Diaconate Formation and participate in a Prepare-Enrich marriage assessment before starting the Aspirancy year.  The Aspirancy begins with a three-day men’s retreat in mid-August.

Please Note: The process outlined here serves the discerning applicant, the Archbishop, and the Church.  At any point in the process, we may mutually discern that the Lord is not calling you to the vocation of deacon—He may well be calling you elsewhere.  At the same time, acceptance into the Aspirancy of the Institute for Diaconate Formation and, eventually, admission into Candidacy for Ordination continues the process of discernment and formation at a deeper level.  There is no guarantee of ordination, but we seek a growing certitude and confidence in God.  As pastor of the local Church, the Archbishop is the one who makes the final decisions at each stage of this discernment and formation.

We entrust ourselves and all of God’s people to the gentle and clear action of the Holy Spirit.

For more information, please contact:

Deacon Joseph Michalak, M.A.T.
Director of Diaconate Formation and Permanent Deacon Formation or (651) 962-6876

Shellee Leif
Administrative Assistant to the Director of Diaconate Formation or (651) 962-6891