Locally-Trained Priests: Discernment Process
(Note: This process may need to be adjusted according to individual Parish needs. The Bishop and the Commission will help the Parish/Congregation make that determination.)
4.1.1 When a person is considering becoming a candidate, he or she will inform both the Incumbent and the Wardens. The Church Committee (Parish Council) will be informed of the request. If the Committee supports the application and wishes the process to continue, then the Committee agrees to support the individual in the following ways:
4.1.2 The Inquirer discusses interest in the priesthood with Incumbent.
4.1.3 The Inquirer meets with the Bishop, if the Incumbent is supportive.
4.1.4 Bishop calls the Commission who will send an application form to the Inquirer. The Commission will also send a set of questions and guidelines for the formation of either two separate groups or one discernment/support group for the Inquirer, to the Incumbent. (See Appendix A, B, and/or C)
4.1.5 Upon return of application, the Commission arranges to interview the Inquirer.
4.1.6 The Commission will arrange for a psychological assessment of the Inquirer.
4.1.7 The Commission writes a report for Bishop, making a recommendation on whether or not inquirer ought to enter the programme as a candidate.
4.1.8 The Incumbent and wardens meet with the Church Committee to obtain a commitment to form a discernment/support group for candidate and a commitment to lead the Parish /Congregation through a training process on the role and function of a priest.
4.1.9 The Incumbent and wardens will meet with the Candidate to clarify expectations of programme, including formation of a discernment/support group(s) as well as financial commitment of Parish/Congregation to candidate’s discernment and training process. Required financial support includes: 50% of required course fees, (not including books), 50% ccommodation if billets are not available, and 100% of fuel for travel, for candidates’ attendance at all required courses and interviews.
4.1.10 Candidate may begin the education segment of the programme at any point in this initial process.
4.1.11 Commission holds an education event in the Parish on the priesthood and priestly ministries, including meeting with discernment/support group(s) to help clarify standards for working together.
4.1.12 The Parish discernment group meets regularly to:
understand its task and evaluate the group’s own readiness
evaluate readiness of Parish to receive a non-stipendiary priest.
assess that the candidate is appropriate to be a priest in the Parish
determine how best to support the candidate
4.1.13 Parish discernment group, after consulting with the support group, will send a written recommendation to Commission as to suitability of Candidate, and readiness of Parish/Congregation to have a non-stipendiary priest. The process will end at this point, if the Candidate is deemed to be unsuitable or the Parish/Congregation is deemed to be unready.
4.1.14 Commission reviews candidate’s completed application form and Parish/Congregation’s recommendation then forwards these completed forms, together with their own recommendation for Candidate’s continuing educational needs, to the Bishop.
4.1.15 If all recommendations are positive and Bishop is willing, the Candidate may formally enter the training programme.
4.1.16 Commission sends letter to the Bishop reporting on the Candidate’s progress through programme with evaluative comments.
4.1.17 Generally, after one year the Candidate, upon the recommendation of the Bishop, is interviewed by the Examining Chaplains. This interview will primarily assess the candidate’s understanding of Priestly ministry and recommends or not, attendance at an Advisory Committtee on Postulants for Ordination (ACPO) event.
4.1.18 If the above recommendation is positive, the candidate attends ACPO.
4.1.19 If ACPO says no, and the Bishop wishes to move forward with the ordination process for the candidate, the Bishop will write a letter to the Commission and the Examining Chaplains stating reasons for allowing candidate to move forward with the process.
4.1.20 After attending ACPO and upon the decision of the Bishop, the Candidate becomes a postulant and may meet with the Examining Chaplains for a further interview.
4.1.21 The Postulant continues training and formation events.
4.1.22 The Commission writes final recommendation to Bishop regarding Postulant’s readiness for ordination to the priesthood.
4.1.23 The Postulant meets with the Bishop.
4.1.24 If the Bishop decides to ordain the Postulant, she/he will become an ordinand. The Parish/Congregation will write a covenant with the Ordinand setting out nature and scope of the work of the new Priest in that Parish/Congregation. (See Appendix E for a sample Covenant)
4.2 Note: If this discernment process is stopped at any point because the Candidate is deemed unsuitable, there is a process in place to provide pastoral care for the Candidate and the Parish. (See Appendix B)
4.3 It is important to remember throughout the process that there is no guarantee of eventual ordination. The final decision rests with the Bishop.