From the earliest Christian community (Acts 6:1-6) to the present, deacons have played an integral part in the life of the Church. The ministry of the diaconate is an integral part of the Church’s ecclesial identity, being one of the three ordained offices of the Church. As the name implies (διάκονος = “servant”), the diaconate is the office of service par excellence, and the deacon serves at the behest of the local Metropolitan both liturgically and pastorally in the life of a community.

Through an intensive mentoring program, distance learning offerings, and a total of three summer sessions on the campus of Holy Cross, the Diaconate Program introduces candidates to the theology, history, liturgical practices, pastoral approaches, and canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church. The program provides candidates with a cohort of like-minded individuals seeking to prepare themselves for service to the Church.



The on‐campus certificate program is designed to prepare a candidate for the ordained diaconate within 3 years. However, the program is open to candidate for up to 6 years. The candidate must be a committed and mature Orthodox Christian who has been active in a parish, and who senses a calling from the Lord to serve the Church in the diaconal ministry. The program is the basis for other meetings and studies required by the local Metropolitan, and complemented by service in a parish under the mentorship of the local priest.

The program is designed especially for persons who are members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and who have the blessing of their Metropolitans to participate. Persons from other Orthodox jurisdictions may also apply to participate in the program. This program is not designed for persons who sense a calling to the priesthood.

Candidates will receive a Certificate of Study from Holy Cross upon the successful completion of the Diaconate Program. Applicants should be aware that admission into and successful completion of the Diaconate Program is not a guarantee for ordination. It is understood that the Holy Eparchial Synod will determine the final criteria for ordination to the diaconate and that diaconal assignments to a particular parish or ministry are made by one’s Metropolitan.


As you discern diaconal service to the Church we recommend you participating at your local parish in the following manner:

  • Listen to God’s call to serve as a deacon that can come in a variety of forms. Pray for discernment and guidance in this calling.
  • Have your Priest get to know you and why you are seeking ordination to the diaconate.
  • Have your Hierarch get to know you and why you are seeking ordination to the diaconate. When possible have your Priest introduce you to him or introoduce yourself. If he will be visiting a parish within a 1 or 2 hour radius go to that service.
  • Help set up before services and clean up after services. Get the Blessing to clean the Communion cloths used in the services.
  • Request the Blessing to observe the liturgical roles of the Priest, Deacon, and Acolyte during the services offered at the parish.
  • Request the Blessing to chant and learn the hymns of the Church. Make an effort to chant the ison first and then learn the 8 tones.
  • Request the Blessing to read at services like the 6 Psalms at the beginning of Matins and/or Epistle during the Divine Liturgy.
  • Request the Blessing to participate in the leadership team for ministries offered at the Church that are Pastoral in nature.
  • Increase your Theological knowledge through efforts like reading the Fathers of the Church, learning about the lives of the Saints, participating in Orthodoxy 101 type classes/Parish Bible Study/Book Club, and listening to Orhtodox Audio/Video Podcasts your Priest recommends.
  • As you make the above recommended efforts focus on a healthy Church, family, and work balance.

Serving the Church as an ordained deacon should be a natural progression from years of humble and loving service at your parish. It should be natural for your Hierarch, Priest and the Laity in your Community to respond AXIOS! WORTHY! at your ordination.

Program Dates

Program Goal, Learning Outcomes & Components

Program Goal
To educate, train and test diaconate candidates for service in the Orthodox Church. Instruction in diaconate liturgics, theology, and pastoral care is based on service in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Program Learning Outcomes
Graduates will:
1. Demonstrate competency in Orthodox theology and history with the writings of the major Church Fathers.

2. Demonstrate competency in the teleturgical responsibilities of an Orthodox deacon.

3. Demonstrate competency in the yearly liturgical cycle, the various feasts and liturgical services of the Orthodox Church, and the diaconate role in those services.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of how to support the local Priest with pastoral visitations and other pastoral needs of the community.

5. Demonstrate a willingness to offer their God-given gifts, beyond pastoral care, to the Priest so he may direct them in ministry to support the needs of the parish.


Each of the four educational and formational components of the program has its own supervisory framework.

1) Online Classes, Sessions and Papers

Administered by Holy Cross faculty

Over a three-year period, the program provides a hybrid of 9 online/in-person classes, three summer on-campus sessions, and has reading assingment requirements. The previous requirement for the six term papers is only still required for those candidates who were accepted into the program prior to the 2022-2023 session.

  1. Each year, 2 online classes are provided during the months just prior to the on-campus summer session. Each class is a one-week duration. The class allows each candidate to review recorded lectures the night prior to each class lecture. The first recording is uploaded for review starting the Sunday night prior to the first class for the given week. The formal lecture will be given each class night, from approximately 4:30 PM -5:30 PM EST. The candidates then interact with the class instructor synchronously in a live video conference class. The course requires formal responses to instructor requirements.
  2. Each year, after the 2 online classes are complete, the nine-day summer session takes place on campus. At these sessions, candidates take the third class for the year and go to lectures and Chapel for Matins, Liturgy, and Vesper services. Candidates learn from Hierarchs, Priest, Deacons, HCHC professors, HCHC DP Alumni, Chanters, and Guest Speakers. The focus of the sessions is on liturgics, pastoral visitations, service ministry, Chaplaincy, understanding the diaconate role in the Church yesterday and today, diaconate communications and protocols, humble/healthy obedience to Hierarch and Priest, and strengthening diaconate fellowship.
  3. Beyond the classes clarified above for candidates accepted prior to the 2022-2023 session there is a requirement for six term papers, based on foundational books in Orthodox theology or praxis, to be provided to HCHC prior to the candidates’ third-year session completion. for candidates accepted from the 2023-2024 session these readings are only recommended. The new Theological centered classes take the place of this former 6 paper requirement.

HCHC Diaconate Program Leadership Team-(See also Regional Leaders below)

V. Rev. Archimandrite Bartholomew Mercado- Program

Click here for Fr Bartholomew Bio

Dr Jim Skedros- Program Assistant Advisor

Click Here for Dr Jim Bio

Dr Philip Mamalakis- Program Clinical Pastoral Education Orthodox Overseer

Click Here For Dr Phil Bio

Click here to contact Dr Phil

Rev Dn John Wise-Program Coordinator

Click here for Dn John Bio

Rev Dn Sal Fazio-Director of Outreach

Click Here for Dn Sal Bio

2) Clergy Mentorship - Liturgical, Theological and Pastoral

The Clergy Mentoring of the Candidate

The Clergy Mentor is assigned by the Metropolitan/Hierarch as part of the enrollment application

The Clergy Mentor is responsible for a minimum of twelve (12) hours of individual candidate guidance at the parish level in the areas of liturgical practice, Theological fundamentals, and pastoral care each year. The mentor is the person that communicates the candidates’ progress in the program to their respective Metropolitan and the faculty of Holy Cross via the Clergy Mentor Forms 1 and 2. These forms are the same and are intended to track improvement and identify candidate weaknesses/strengths so when they come to the program session the DP Instructors can focus better on their individual needs.

Required Clergy Mentor Forms:

While the mentor works as an enabler rather than an informer, he is also responsible for the candidates’ fundamental Theological guidance and the training of the candidate as to how they will conduct their liturgical and pastoral responsibilities if they have the blessing to be ordained to the Diaconate by the Hierarch.

The mentoring requirements for the candidate include both the recording of ten Pastoral Visitations done with the mentor and the specific mentoring outlined in the two candidate Journal forms. These forms outline what HCHC DP Staff refers to as the Clergy Mentor shadowing experience.

Required Candidate Forms:

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) with HCHC Orthodox Oversight


  1. The Course combines pre-recorded video lectures, Online classes, and in-person training over a two (2) year consecutive period.
  2. First Year candidates are not eligible for the Course
  3. All second and third-year candidates shall complete The HCHC Clinical Pastoral Education Course
  4. Two (2) Separate Courses will run simultaneously to keep candidate classes as a contained group for both years.
    • When 3rd Year candidates are starting the second year of CPE, 2nd year candidates will start the first year of CPE classes separately

Part I – CPE Accredited Education

    • The course is based on one (1) Unit of CPE education
    • Forty (40) Contact Hours – ten (10) Bi-Monthly online Four (4) HR Saturday 8:00 AM-12:00 PM Mountain Time sessions
    • Candidate individually check in each Year with CPE Supervisor
    • Yr1 Midterm and Yr2 Final

Part 2 – Clergy Mentor guided pastoral visitations 

    • Two (2) workshops with Clergy Mentor, Candidate, and HCHC Faculty outlining the Roles and Responsibilities of the Course
    • Required Pastoral Care Form ( includes 12 Pastoral Visitations with Verbatims)

Part 3 – HCHC Pastoral Care Orthodox Oversite

    • Eight (8) Pre-recorded 1 HR video lectures
    • Eight (8) Bi-Monthly 1HR Saturday online classes
    • Orthodox Reflections on the verbatims and visitations
    • Two (2) in-person classes at the annual Program summer session)

At the successful completion of the Diaconate Program and Course, Candidates will receive 1 Unit of CPE and are eligible for approval for up to 3 Pastoral Care Core Class Credits towards an HCHC MDiv or MTS.



Requirements for formal re-admittance into the Diaconate Program after a candidate has indicated withdrawal to HCHC within the 6-year maximum or after the 6-year program max duration has been exceeded.

3) Metropolis Groups

Administered by the local Metropolitan and Regional leaders

 Each Metropolitan is responsible for designating two types of Metropolis Groups.

  • Metropolis Fellowship Groups -These are educational seminars/retreats held for his current deacons and DP candidates/Alumni and their clergy mentors. This process is intended to be a structured meeting with the Metropolitan or his Archdeacon/Clergy representative to help guide the deacons and candidates in service to the metropolis. The number and organization of Metropolis Fellowship Groups and the frequency with which they meet is at the discretion of the Metropolitan. Each group provides an organizational framework wherein specialists, theologians, and local clergy work together to reinforce and enhance understanding of core diaconate topics and skill proficiency.


4) Alumni Retreats, Events, and Continuing Education

Administered by Holy Cross faculty

Deacon Alumni and candidates are afforded several opportunities to continue their education and spiritual growth, as well as their service to their parish and community. They are encouraged to participate in Clergy-Laity, APC events, Video conference Guest speaker opportunities, and the Metropolis Fellowship/Regional Groups whenever possible and as appropriate.

HCHC Diaconate Program MERCH

HCHC Diaconate Program Patches Available

For Orders Contact: George Fekaris

HCHC Diaconate Program-Golf Shirts and Sweat Shirts Available

15-year Anniversary Mugs were a big hit at the session!

Contact: Dr Spiro Xydas

Click here to order Diaconate Program Shirts and Sweat Shirts

For DP 2023 -2024 Candidates the deadline to order is June 3rd, 2024. Items will be sent directly to you before the in-person summer session.

(Diaconate Merch Models CAndidate Janssen Hills and Rev Dn Luke Twito with Diaconate Program Mentor Fr Peter Chamberas)


Individuals who are at least 26 years of age, with interest in the Diaconate Program, or seeking to pay the Program Session Fee should contact the Hellenic College Holy Cross Admissions office via the buttons below.  Inquiries will be responded to promptly by an admissions representative, the Program Coordinator Rev Dn John Rob Wise and/or the Director of Outreach Rev Dn Sal Fazio  Applicants must apply via the HCHC Diaconate Program office of enrollment online process that includes filling out the online form fields and uploading scanned copies of the application requested documents for all checklist items listed below. (Click on the button below to Apply). Any questions regarding the Enrollment should be directed to Dr. Bruce Beck Director of Enrollment Management

  • Confirmation the applicant has downloaded and reviewed the Diaconate Program Guide provided above and watched the accompanying video above. Note: We request that your Priest/Clergy Mentor watch the video with you if possible.
  • Complete the Candidate’s portion of the online Program Application. 
  • Upload current resume
  • Upload proof of bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.  Provide scanned copies of all official transcripts documenting undergraduate and graduate education via the application upload process. NOTE: Equivalent examples can be a licensed professional tradesman who completed the academic studies and passed the Professional Licensing Board Exam. All Bachelor’s degree waiver requests will be handled on an individual case-by-case basis and the final approval to apply without a Bachelor’s degree will be required to be given by the individual’s Hierarch.
  • Upload a typewritten essay outlining your vocational and personal development and what motivates you to seek ordination to the diaconate (no longer than 750 words or three double-spaced pages)
  • Upload Baptismal, Chrismation, and, if applicable, Marriage certificate
  • Upload a signed letter by the applicant indicating his intention for ordination to the diaconate; the letter shall indicate that the applicant will not consider pursuing ordination to the priesthood at a future date without the knowledge and consent of the Metropolitan
  • Pay Program Fee-Diaconate Program Payment For 2023. All first, second, and third-year candidates pay the Program Session Fee of TBD, one month prior to the first online class start.  The deadline this year for new applicants is May 1st, 2024
  • Upload two (2) 2″ x 2″ images of yourself, preferably one with you in your anteri and one with a collared shirt and tie.
  • Background Check (Note: Approx $18 online fee in addition to the session fee)
    • In addition to the HCHC requirements, once a candidate has been admitted to the program, the candidate must meet their respective Metropolis background checks and evaluation requirements for all ministries they participate in during their enrollment in the program. The candidate shall contact their Chancellor to understand the Metropolis requirements. if this does not apply no action is required.
  • Parish Priest recommendation letter for the candidate to enroll in the Program
  • Hierarch’s Evaluation letter, confirming his blessing for the candidate to enroll in the Program.