Resources - Priest

Journey of Discernment


The call to ordained ministry is a call perceived by both the individual and the Church.  To assist an individual in determining whether or not a perceived call is valid, the Church and the individual embark on a discernment journey together.  The end result of this journey may be either an affirmation of the call to ordained ministry or to the continuation of the call to lay ministry.  Helping an individual recognize and embrace a genuine lay ministry, originating from baptismal vows, is of equal or greater importance than guiding a person to ordination.

Journey of Discernment seeks to assist priests, and individuals contemplating ordination, in the discernment journey by outlining the steps in the discernment process in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida.  The first steps in this process are: 1) Dialogue with a Parish Priest for six months to one year, 2) Attend a Ministry Exploration Weekend and 3) Schedule a meeting with the Bishop and your Sponsoring Priest.  At the end of these steps, if the individual, the Sponsoring Priest and the Bishop truly discern a call to ordained ministry, the individual must have a medical exam, psychological exam and a background screening (the Diocese will provide the appropriate documents for this).  Once these are completed satisfactorily, the journey continues in conversation with the Commission on Ministry (COM).  We suggest you read "Leaders for the Church" (Appendix A).

Journey of Discernment is an invitation to enter into the process of reflection, discernment and formation.  It assumes that all who read it will do so with eyes focused on the page, but hearts and ears focused on hearing the distinct call of God.  The process assumes that your priest, your Bishop, and The Commission on Ministry, open to the Holy Spirit's guidance, will journey with you and support this holy task of listening and discerning.

Priestly Formation

The key word in describing this program is formation. It is more than an accumulation or completion of study. The program exists to form the ministry of those who are called to this order, and to nurture them as they seek not only education but understanding of what it is to be a priest.

The process is a dynamic one and discernment is a continuous process. There are a number of steps a would-be priest should take to first decide if they are called to be a priest. After a local and then diocesan discernment process if everyone recognizes that an individual is called to ordained ministry in the priesthood, he or she is designated a "postulant" and sent to seminary. Seminary in the Episcopal Church is a 3-year, masters degree program of formation. There are educational, experiential and practical ministry portions of the seminary education that make seminary much more than simply going back to school. Priestly discernment is a process of mental and spiritual examination and self-examination to discover whether or not one is willing and able to accept a genuine call to servanthood ministry for God in his church.

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