When one begins formation for priesthood it feels as though you are in for the long haul and can’t get to the finish-line quick enough. Suddenly, I find myself at the end of fourth year and receiving candidacy -- the Church’s formal recognition of a clerical vocation -- and so the countdown to ordination next year (first as deacon) has begun!
Bishop Paul Mason, bishop to the military, presided over the mass and preached on how God intends us to soar like eagles, but with the Holy Spirit in our wings. I must say, I was quite on air myself. From this point onwards, I may dress in clerics (priestly garb) so as to witness to my intention to complete my formation. The rite involved us being asked if we were “morally certain” of a call from the Lord, and if we are “resolved” to carry on with a view to ordination? I can say that I do now feel interiorly free and happy enough to say yes to Christ and His Church. I was very conscious of the number of you who continue to pray for me. No man makes it through without such support. Thank-you.
It seems, however, that I might be part of the old guard who receive candidacy at the end of year 4 of seminary. The Bishops of England & Wales are currently deciding on how to readjust the “ministries” conferred on a discerner so as to bring formation in line with the wishes of Pope Francis. Since he created the lay ministry of catechist it has become more theologically acute that the ministries of reader and acolyte are primarily baptismal ministries that are open to all the faithful and not just those of us progressing towards ordination. As a result, candidacy may be moved earlier on in the process or left up the seminarian to express when he feels ready to take this step. For the moment, however, no-one knows just how everything will develop. As for me, although aware of my many faults, I praise God for calling me to minister soon enough in our Archdiocese and express here, once again, how lucky I feel to have shared the journey thus far with so many wonderful priests and parishioners along the way.
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