The Path to the Diaconate

Deacons empower others to name, claim and engage the work God gives us all to do. They interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world. Through baptism, all Christians are called to make Christ’s redemptive love known through servant ministry. Deacons are ordained to exercise this ministry, particularly to the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely. Deacons model servant ministry in their daily life and work, and are icons of servant ministry through their roles in worship. At all times, by their life and teaching, deacons are to show Christ’s people that in serving others they are serving Christ himself. 

Formation for the Diaconate

In this diocese, deacons are formed by the St. Phoebe School for Deacons, a partnership between the Diocese of Virginia, the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP). The inaugural class of the St. Phoebe School began in summer 2020. The next class will begin with an opening retreat on June 18-20, 2021 at Roslyn Retreat Center, Richmond. 

More on the Vocational Diaconate

Applying for Postulancy

Before applying for postulancy, seekers in the Diocese of Virginia spend time in community discerning what God is calling them to and how they might best answer that call. On vocational discernment.

Once the seeker's parish discernment committee completes its work, the seeker may begin applying for postulancy with the support of his/her presenting priest. The presenting priest should email Ed Keithly  (ekeithly@thediocese.net) to request a contact from the Committee on the Diaconate. The contact will assist the seeker in applying for postulancy. 

Postulancy Interview Dates

Aspirants will be scheduled for an interview after the aspirant's contact to the Committee on the Diaconate affirms the aspirant is ready to go forward. 

  • Thurs., Feb. 24, 2022 (application due Jan. 24) 
  • Thurs., April 28, 2022 (application due March 28)

More about the Interview: Click here to see the "Memo to Aspirants Preparing for a Postulancy Interview." An agenda and this document will be emailed to the aspirant two weeks before the interview, but aspirants should read the memo earlier than that. See especially the note about the support team (#4), as the aspirant's supporters may need more than two weeks notice in order to attend. 

About Beginning Formation: Those who interview for postulancy on the dates above will all be on track to begin formation in the St. Phoebe School for Deacons in summer 2022. All students accepted as postulants for the vocational diaconate are automatically accepted to the St. Phoebe School; there isn't a separate application process. The third class of the St. Phoebe School begins with a retreat at the Claggett Center in Adamstown, MD scheduled for July 8-10, 2022.

Postulancy Application Materials

Applying for Candidacy

Postulants apply for candidacy about midway through their formation process. Whereas postulancy interviews are primarily concerned someone's call to and innate gifts for the diaconate, candidacy interviews are primarily concerned with the progress a postulant has made in formation.

Some months prior to an interview, Ed Keithly will email the class interviewing for candidacy to convey information about the application, interview dates, due dates for the application.

Candidacy Interview Dates & Sequence

  • Committee on the Diaconate: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Committee on Diaconate, receiving information about their application some months before the interview date. 
  • Standing Committee: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Standing Committee, typically learning of the date of that interview at the same time they learn of the date for their interview with the Committee on the Diaconate. Standing Committee interviews are almost always at St. George's, Fredericksburg (if not via Zoom). 
  • Bishop: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with their bishop who, with a recommendation and the consent of the Standing Committee, officially accepts postulants as candidates. Interviews are typically scheduled by the Bishop's Assistant for within a month after the Standing Committee interview. 

Committee on the Diaconate Candidacy Interview Dates

  • Wed., October 13, 2021 via Zoom. Application/all materials due September 22. 

Candidacy Application Materials

Please send electronic copies to Ed Keithly. Postulants should maintain a copy of all documents for their own records. 

  • Candidacy Application Form
  • An updated resume: Like the resume submitted in the postulancy application, your resume should be tailored to this audience and highlight experience relevant to the diaconate (2 page limit). 
  • Vestry Letter of Support for Candidacy
    • Signed by the postulant's presenting parish, the parish that supported their application for postulancy. 
    • Signing a Virtual Vestry Letter: The Vestry doesn’t have to meet in person, or run themselves ragged passing around a paper copy. The vestry should hold a Zoom meeting or conference call. At that meeting, a Vestry member offers a motion to have the vestry support for postulancy (or candidacy or ordination), the vestry votes, then the Senior Warden signs the document and writes on the document the names of all who voted in favor. The Senior Warden can then scan a copy of that form and email it to Ed Keithly (ekeithly@thediocese.net). Then, at a later point in time when the Vestry are able to meet in person again, all can sign another physical copy for the file. (This method has been vetted and approved by the Chancellor and the Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Virginia.)  
  • St. Phoebe School evaluations: Evaluations provided the by the Local Formation Director of the St. Phoebe School for Deacons. 

Vestry Support Letters for Later Stages