So you have someone (an Inquirer) who has expressed they are feeling some sense of call to an ordained Holy Order or something else not fully developed yet. Here are your next steps as a parish leader:
- Hear them and engage in a pastoral exploration conversation with them. Commit to regular pastoral conversations with them over the course of their discernment, whether informal or formal discernment occurs to help them discover what this inkling is.
- Help pave the way for if formal discernment is undertaken: are they baptized? Are they confirmed? If they’re considering the priesthood, do they have their Bachelor’s degree already? Help them understand these requirements and do what you can to help make sure those things are addressed early. While an Inquirer should not lean on you to complete their process of discernment, it is yours to help them enter with eyes wide open on diocesan/canonical requirements.
- Familiarize yourself with the Diocese of AZ process on these pages. Reach out to COM@azdiocese.org with any questions.
- Encourage their self-awareness and prayer life: Spiritual Director, therapist, involvement in the parish and the worship life thereof.
- Start thinking about who in the parish might have the gift of discernment that you could call upon to be part of a 5-7 member Parish Discernment Team (PDT) for 4-6 months. The Inquirer should suggest 1-2 people they’d like to have included on the PDT, you would select the rest. No clergy (active or retired) should be included in a PDT.
- Plan to attend the Day of Ministry Discernment (DMD) with your Inquirer.*
- Be prepared for the parish to make a financial commitment to your Inquirer’s potential future. The process includes a full psychological assessment and an Oxford Background Check: these cost approximately $1,000 collectively. After the discernment process, were your Inquirer to be made a postulant, further expenses related to the formation may arise. The Vestry/ Bishop’s Committee should be prepared to commit financially (at least in part) to the Inquirer’s path toward ordained service in the church.