One of the most profound questions people ask is 'what am I here for?' This leads on to how you can serve God in the most effective way. Some are called to serve God in their everyday lives or a particular ministry in their church and community but others are set apart by the church for an authorised ministry.
So where do you start if you think God may be calling you to ordained ministry as a deacon or priest?
The first step is to pray about it then speak to your parish priest, who will be very pleased to talk this through with you. You may be surprised to find that he or she may have been waiting for you to come and see them about vocation for some time! It may also be good to share your feelings with some close Christian friends, who will talk and pray this through with you.
If your parish priest feels that you do have a potential vocation to ordained ministry to be explored, he or she will refer you to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO), who is Revd Stephen Hunter for the Sheffield Diocese. You will meet with him and he will outline the discernment and selection process to you and check if there are any matters that you need to address before entering the formal process. Once he is satisfied that you are a potential ordinand, he will refer you on to a Vocations Adviser or an Assistant DDO, for several months of reflection, study, and prayer. Later, you may undertake a placement, do a course of theological study, and then prepare for a Diocesan Local Panel. This part of the selection is based on the Bishop's Criteria for Selection for Ministry.
The DDO or Assistant DDO will then arrange for you to meet with the Bishop who, if he is satisfied with the report from the DDO, will make the decision as to whether you should attend a Bishop's Advisory Panel (BAP), organised by the Ministry Division. This is a three-day residential conference, held in a retreat house. At the end of the conference, the Advisers will write a report to the Bishop, advising whether they recommend that you should enter training for ordained ministry.
It normally takes between twelve and eighteen months between a candidate seeing the DDO and entering training, but can take longer.
Once the Bishop has confirmed the Panel’s recommendation, he will sponsor you for training. The type of training will depend on you and the ministry you are to exercise within the Church. The DDO will discuss the different options and generally training will be for either two or three years. The decision as to whether you will be ordained will be made by the Bishop, having taken advice from the Principal of your training college or course during your final year of training.
Before being given a role leading a church an ordained priest must serve as a Curate. A curate is in his or her first years of ordained life. They work with the incumbent at the church to which they have been appointed as they continue with their training ‘on the job’ (this is part of what is called initial ministerial education, or IME). A curacy normally lasts for 3 years.
Taking this further...
- Speak with your parish priest.
- Read the document 'Exploring Your Vocation' carefully.
- If both you and your parish priest are in agreement register your interest by completing the forms in the above document
For advice and further information contact the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, Stephen Hunter:
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