Discernment a vocation as an Anglican priest. Would appreciate some advice

Discussion in 'Personal Advice, Care & Prayers' started by DivineOfficeNerd, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. DivineOfficeNerd

    DivineOfficeNerd Active Member Anglican

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    United States
    Laudian Anglo-Catholic
    For the past several months, I have considered a vocation as a priest within the Anglican Church. I feel called to it, and I have prayed constantly through the Daily Office and other forms of prayer, but I do not know how I can know. I would normally ask my parish priest, but I get the feeling that most of my parish already expects it of me, so if any clergy on these forums could help me out, I'd be very grateful. I'm wracked with questions, like how do I know if I am not just called to some lay role, what skills would I need, and whether or not my vocation is real or just in my head? If anyone could help I'd be very grateful.
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  2. neminem

    neminem Member

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    Hello DivineOfficeNerd (DON)...perhaps you are meant to be a priest.
    I am not a clergy, so please do not be offended with my response. My vocation is counselling.
    DON, if you have been considering a vocation as a priest, for several months, then it is no whimsical matter. If anything there is some great attraction for you to do so. However, I imagine an important quality of a priest would be discernment of their own truth (both good and bad). There could be several reasons to be attracted to any vocation, and I believe it would be good to evaluate your position in the following examples:

    For security (financial).
    For security (spiritual).
    For the prestige.
    To exercise authority.
    To serve those that are doubtful, fearful, or lost.
    To be part of an organisation to follow, but not lead.
    To serve God the best way for yourself.
    To fulfill a 'calling', though you may not really want to.

    I am sure there would be other reasons. The point is, some of these do not mix well, in my opinion, for a priest.
    So ask yourself what is the most attractive part of your consideration for being a priest, and ...
    will this serve the community more so than for yourself.
  3. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    N Ireland
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    Go for it, in the name of God. Otherwise you will wonder all your life if you should have. The only way to truly discern a vocation is to enter the seminary, I presume that like Roman Catholicism there are a number of years formation prior to ordination. As a young man I spent 3yrs as a clerical student in Maynooth college, the national seminary of Ireland. Three very formative years and I am the better for it and have no regrets.
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  4. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    United States
    Happy Anglican
    Good Evening,

    It is good you are discerning a vocation to be a priest. It is a wonder, yet terrifying vocation. If Christ is calling you to be His servant, His priest
    for His Church.....first understand you life will no longer be yours. The will of Christ is first, before yours or your family. And understand, you will
    have daily battles with Satan. Satan seeks to destroy priests......most if not all heresy that infects the Church is started in the ranks of the clergy. The priest is responsible to Christ for the cure of souls, health of the Church and proclamation of the Gospel. Failure is not an option.

    Now after that cheerful paragraph, I would not have it any other way.

    I would suggest you read a book "A Priest is not His Own" by the Ven. Fulton Sheen. It talks about the priesthood. If after reading it you still feel the calling of Christ, talk with your priest. He will start the discernment process. He will contact the Bishop. There are many steps one has to go through, many examinations for education, personality, and the biggest spirituality. This process can take many month or years, depending upon the discernment process and what the Bishop, Examining Chaplain (and his board) see in you. Your Spiritual director, usually not your parish priest, should spend time with you....a lot of time. Once you have finished this process you will go to school.

    Where you start depends upon your prior education. If you have no college, you may be required to get an undergraduate education as Seminary level degrees are Graduate level. Your formal education can take 7 years. If you have an undergraduate degree, you may only have to take select classes to prepare you for Seminary.

    During your seminary years, you will be ordained a Deacon and after graduation Priest.

    Some Anglican jurisdictions have reading for orders. Each process is different. I have only seen this used on older gentlemen who have college degrees and have families and are not able to move to a seminary.

    I would advise you read the book. Then, if after reading you still feel the call, talk with your priest to begin.

    Pray and pray some more. When you think you have prayed enough, pray more.

    I will pray for you, for God's guidance, wisdom for you and your Bishop and protection from the attacks of Satan.

    God Bless you.

    Fr. Mark
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  5. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    One of the great aspects of the discernment process is that it is a long process that gives you time to meditate on each step. The first step is to notify your priest of your sense of a calling. He will probably then need to seek the endorsement of at least two or three members of the vestry or the congregation at large and will then submit your information to the diocesan Bishop or Canon for vocations as an aspirant. After the aspirant stage, you will be given a checklist of some sort which will identify things for you to study, things for you to begin doing in the services of your congregation, and you will be identified as a postulant. As you work on your checklist, you will probably be required to make reports on your progress at the Ember Days each quarter. At some point, you will be asked to undergo a psychological screening. As you near completion of your educational track and liturgical training, a date will be selected for your ordination. Show up for your ordination service (we always have at least one postulant a year flake out and not show up for his ordination to the diaconate). If you are ordained a deacon, you will begin the process of determining whether you ought to continue on to ordination to the priesthood. The permanent diaconate is as holy, respectable, and praiseworthy as the priesthood. I hate to see dioceses that have an arbitrary way of deciding from essentially postulancy who will be permanent and who will be transitional in their diaconate. My own jurisdiction does a great job of giving deacons time to grow into the diaconate. There is no pressure to transition to priesthood in only twelve months. If you do determine that your calling is to the priesthood, you will get another checklist to work on -it will probably be mostly liturgical training.

    If you do become ordained, you will also need to think about relocation and church planting and what aspects of ministry you excel at. It is important to maintain open communications and a working relationship with your Canon, Vicar General/Archdeacon, and Bishop. I was talking to a fellow deacon in another jurisdiction not long ago and he told me he has to make an appointment to have a conversation with his bishop and only typically sees him face to face once a year. In my opinion, that is not much of a working relationship. The Bishop may prefer to delegate most hands on tasks to a Canon or Archdeacon, but he still needs to know his clergy.
  6. Cameron

    Cameron Active Member

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    I know of two gentlemen that discerned for twenty years, one Roman and one Anglican. Both, eventually, decided to pursue ordination and now live happily as priests; another chap I knew discerned for thirty and decided against, finally. But then I know two others who only discerned for five and are now young and ordained. So, you can have it any way, really. God will put you there if that's where he needs you.
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