User login

Diaconal Program

Diploma in Orthodox Theology


The Diploma in Orthodox Theology is designed to prepare students for the service of being a deacon in the Orthodox Church.

Those who wish to take the Diploma Program in preparation for ordination need to contact the bishop directly and obtain his blessings for doing so. There is an official vocations assessment program in place now within the archdiocese of Canada which should be completed before the prospective student begins the Diaconal Program.


Students who are unsure of a call to vocation but who wish to increase their understanding of the Orthodox Church may begin taking courses under the certificate program (ie. for laity) and transfer into the Diploma program at a later date if they so choose.


The Diaconal Program contains the core theological courses of the Institute.


There are twenty, one-term courses in the Diaconal Program. A full-time student, taking five courses per term, would be expected to finish the program in two years.


The courses may also be taken part-time or by correspondence.


The full list of courses in the Diaconal program is presented below. If there is more than one course in any given subject, the number of courses in that subject is given in brackets after the course.


Program Requirements:


1. completion of the Reader's/Cantor's Program (or demonstrate compentency in this area)

2. practicum

3. 20 one-term courses in the following disciplines:


        Canonical Tradition


        Church History (3)

        Church Fathers (2)

        Doctrine/Comparative Theology (3)


        Holy Scripture (3)


        Liturgics/Liturgical Theology (4)

        Pastoral Theology/Counseling



Brief Summaries of the Content of Each Course


Canonical Tradition
The history, basis, scope and principles of canon law in the Orthodox Church.
Directives and official statements of the Orthodox Church in America and the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in North America on moral issues, and other matters. Guidelines for clergy. Ecumenical relations. The Church and Canadian law.


Christian Education
The Church’s liturgical life as the framework and context for Christian education.
Sanctification of life. Sanctification of time. Sanctification of matter. Resources and means for Christian education: Holy Scriptures, lives and teachings of the saints, icons. Educational materials produced by the North American Orthodox Churches. Age-appropriate themes and means of Christian education.


Church History 1 – Beginnings to the 9th Century
Pentecost; Apostles and Early Christian Community; Judaism; Apostle St. Paul; Council of Jerusalem; Persecutions; Conversion of Constantine; Church and State; 5 Patriarchates; Writers and Teachers of the Church – 1st through 4th centuries; Heresies; Ecumenical Councils; Monasticism; Rise of Islam; Oriental Christianity; Iconoclasm; Byzantium and Rome; Writers and Teachers of the Church – 5th through 8th centuries; Christian life and worship; Holy Mysteries.


Church History 2 – 9th to the 21st Centuries


Church History 3 – History of Orthodox Christianity in North America


Church Fathers 1

The Fathers of the 2nd to early 5th centuries: Apostolic Fathers, Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers. St. Ignatius of Antioch; St. Justin Martyr; St. Irenaeus; Tertullian; St. Clement of Alexandria; St. Cyprian of Carthage; Origen. Trinitarian Controversy. St. Athanasius of Alexandria; St. Basil of Caesarea; St. Gregory of Nazianzus; St. Gregory of Nyssa; St. John Chrysostom; St. Hilary of Poitiers; St. Ambrose of Milan; St. Jerome; St. Augustine of Hippo.


Church Fathers 2
The Fathers of the late 5th century to the 15th century. Christological Disputes. St. Cyril of Alexandria; St. Leo of Rome; St. Maximus the Confessor; St. John of Damascus; St. Symeon the New Theologian; St. Gregory Palamas; St. Mark Eugenicus.


Doctrine/Comparative Theology 1
Sources of Christian Doctrine. God: Creation, Angels, Man, Fall, and Preparation for the coming of Christ. Jesus Christ: Incarnation, Redemption, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Coming again.


Doctrine/Comparative Theology 2
Holy Spirit, Pentecost. Church, Sacraments, Eternal Life. Concepts of Orthodoxy and Heresy.


Doctrine/Comparative Theology 3
Christian West. Development of Distinctive Western Forms of Christian Thought. A Comparative Study of Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Theology. Relationship Between Orthodox - Roman Catholic and Orthodox - Protestant in Past and Present.


The foundation and goal of Orthodox spirituality and ethics. The creation of humanity in the image of God. The fall of man. Redemption through Christ. Incorporation into the Church. Deification. The means of Christian spiritual growth. Co-operation with the grace given in the Holy Mysteries. Our calling as Prophets, Priests, and Kings. Specific Tools for spiritual Growth: fasting, prayer, love of neighbour, the virtues, lives and teachings of the saints. Moral life and reconciliation with all as the basis for, and fruit of communion with God. Orthodox perspectives on , marriage, family, suffering, death and current ethical dilemmas. The goal of life in Christ: becoming like Christ, acquiring the Holy Spirit, resurrection.


Holy Scripture 1
A comprehensive introduction to, and overview of, Holy Scripture. Jesus Christ as the key to understanding Scripture. What is the Bible? By whom and for whom was it written? Types of literature in the Bible. The Bible as revelation – the word of God. Geographical settings of the Bible. Historical background to the Bible. A survey of the books of the Bible with brief summaries of their content, purpose and themes. Main themes of the Bible. The place, significance and use of Holy Scripture in the Orthodox Church. Canon of Scripture. The Septuagint translation. Personal Reading of Holy Scripture. The changing place and influence of the Bible in European and North American civilization over the centuries.


Holy Scripture 2
A study of the content of the New Testament. Major themes of the New Testament. The use of the New Testament Scripture in the life and worship of the Orthodox Church.


Holy Scripture 3
A study of the content of the Old Testament. Major themes of the Old Testament. The use of the Old Testament in the life and worship of the Orthodox Church.


The theory of preaching: historical background, purpose of sermon, types of sermons, selection of topics, source materials, structure and style, composition and proclamation.
The ministry of the Word: related to various life situations, related to the Liturgical Year, preparation by Pastor for preaching, other forms of public address. Practicum: sermon based on Sunday Gospel reading, sermon based on Sunday Epistle reading, sermon for a Feast-day, sermon for a Holy Mystery (including funeral)


Liturgics/Liturgical Theology 1
The Church Building: external arrangement, internal arrangement, iconostasis, the altar and its furnishing, antimension, the bells, candles and their symbolism. Services: the daily cycle, the weekly cycle. The annual cycle of feasts: the moveable feasts, the fixed feasts. The great feasts: Major feasts of the Church according to the spring equinox and the Jewish Passover, great feasts of the Lord, great feasts of the Mother of God. The Church Year: the Triodion, Pentecostarion, Octoechos (eight tones). The daily cycle of the services. The evening service: the order of little vespers, daily vespers, the order of great vespers, first hour, the order of matins in the Holy and Great 40-day fast. The Church year: fasting seasons, fast-free weeks, fast days, concerning fasting, pre-Lent.


Liturgics/Liturgical Theology 2
The Eucharisti urgy of the Orthodox Church: origin, development and theological meaning.
The Eucharisti urgy: its relationship to the total sacramental and spiritual life of the Church.


Liturgics/Liturgical Theology 3
Holy Mysteries for the Church: origin, structure and theological meaning.
Theology of the Orthodox Icon.


Liturgics/Liturgical Theology 4
Book of needs. Service
Monastic tonsure.


Pastoral Theology/Counseling
Introduction to pastoral theology: priest and pastor in Scripture and Tradition. Vocations, ordination, education, priestly spirituality, purity. Ministry in the church, the home, society and family. Relations with the parish council, sisterhood, choir, youth, sltar servers. Chaplain visitations to the sick; hospital visitations; shut-ins and elderly visitations. Visitations to those in prisons. Family planner to the family as groups, couples, or individuals. Youth advisor to teen-agers, youth in conflict and maturation. Inter-Orthodox and ecumenical relations. Important problems – sin, pain and suffering, age and ageing, dying and death, alcoholism, drug abuse, , and marital problems. Deacon’s ministry with pastor/priest. The Pastor and his family. The Priest and the administration of the holy Mysteries - pre-marital counseling, pre-baptismal counseling, counseling for conversion.