The Director for the Permanent Diaconate is Deacon Keith Ballard. He was ordained deacon by Bishop David Konstant on 8th December 1994.
He holds a teaching degree from the University of Manchester, and completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Catholic Religious Education at Newman University, Birmingham and an MA at St Mary’s University, London.
Keith has worked in the field of Catholic Education for more than 30 years and served as a Headteacher in a Catholic (11 -19) college. In 2015 he was appointed as Director for the Permanent Diaconate by Bishop Marcus Stock and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Northern Diaconal Formation Partnership. He currently serves as Catholic Chaplain to the University of Huddersfield. He is based in the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Huddersfield.
Thinking about a possible vocation to the permanent Diaconate?
When someone feels that God may be calling them to serve as a deacon, they should first contact the Director for the Permanent Diaconate (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will arrange to listen to their experience and offer information and guidance about how to proceed. Enquirers should be men (married or single) who are living the Catholic faith in accordance with the teachings of the Church and should normally be between 30 and 60 years of age. Those who make a formal application attend a selection day at Hinsley Hall Pastoral Centre in Leeds, which is usually held in June each year.
Those recommended, and who are accepted by the Bishop, meet regularly with candidates from the other Northern Dioceses of England and Wales over a number of weekends each year. They reflect on and study scripture, prayer, liturgy and pastoral theology and they experience a residential retreat. They also meet regularly with a spiritual director and undertake some practical work in a parish. During their first two years of formation, candidates also follow an online course in pastoral theology with the Loyola University of Chicago. The workload is carefully managed and presented in a supportive atmosphere as we are conscious that candidates will also have their existing professional and family responsibilities to meet in addition to their studies, and that most candidates have done little previous study related to ministry.
The programme of formation takes four years in total to complete and is designed to help deepen each candidate’s prayer life and his desire to make the love of God known to all. We aim to equip him to minister in the Church and wider communities, to encourage others to do the same, and to imitate the Lord Jesus who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Mk 10:45).
Newly ordained deacons are appointed by the Bishop to their local deanery and work under the guidance of a parish priest. Deacons serve most visibly when they proclaim the Gospel and assist at the altar at Mass; they preside at weddings and funerals; they take Viaticum to the dying and fulfil other parish duties as the need arises. They may also be assigned to a wide variety of chaplaincy roles in schools, hospitals, prisons and universities.