The Priesthood in the Diocese of New Jersey: Diocesan Discernment
Once the Rector/Vicar, the Parish Committee on Ministry, and the Vestry is ready to recommend their nominee to the Diocesan Committee on Priesthood, application forms (with application fee) and recommendations are completed and sent to the Canon for Ministry Development, Diocese of New Jersey, 808 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618 by January 15. No action is taken on any submitted material until the written recommendation of the Rector/Vicar and of the Parish Committee on Ministry has been received.
Included with the nominee’s application must be recommendations of individuals who have personal knowledge of the nominee and the nominee’s ministry.
2. Interview with the Bishop and the Canon for Ministry Development
The nominee should contact the Canon for Ministry Development to schedule an appointment as soon as he/she has submitted the application for diocesan discernment. The nominee may then be requested to take the psychological and medical exams. Once the evaluation is released by the nominee, it will be read by Bishop Stokes only. The nominee will then meet with the Bishop. The Bishop seeks to provide pastoral support, to assist in discernment, and to gather information regarding his decision for postulancy.
3. Medical and Psychological Examinations
The psychological examination must be performed by the counseling service recommended by the diocese. The medical examination may be performed by the aspirant’s own physician. These examinations must be completed prior to the interview with Bishop Stokes. The reports go directly to the Bishop’s office, and will be reviewed by the Bishop in a confidential manner.
4. Oxford Document Check (background, criminal, credit and motor vehicle)
Contact Ms. Ann Notte, at Diocesan House for further information: 877 394-5281, ext. 41.
5. Nominee interview with the Committee on Priesthood
The Committee on Priesthood conducts interviews for further discernment generally in September. The sponsoring Rector/Vicar and/or the chair of the Parish Committee on Ministry, and the nominee must be present for the interview.
The Committee on Priesthood interviews the parish nominee to discern the nominee’s appropriateness for further discernment, reviewing those qualities listed in the section on personal discernment. The Committee is looking for those qualities that are integral to the task of equipping and enabling the work of the community of Christ.
6. Placement in a congregation for ministry discernment (other than one’s home parish)
If it is determined that the nominee is ready, the Committee on Priesthood recommends a church assignment for continuing ministry discernment. The purpose of this discernment is to enable the nominee to share in the full life of a different congregation and to participate in the administrative, educational, liturgical, and pastoral elements of congregational ministry. Often this assignment helps the nominee discern gifts that are not fully challenged or recognized by the home church. The nominee should work with a group, formally or informally, to receive feedback on his/her interactions with the church.
Details of the program for each nominee are determined by the Committee on Priesthood, the supervising congregation, and the nominee. The program is part time. It is not funded and is undertaken in addition to the nominee’s secular work or means of support. The placement will be for a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months. The nominee should be prepared to commit more than just Sunday morning services to this program; however, the number of hours per week will depend upon the individual program.
During this assignment, there is no expectation that the nominee’s family be required to give up attending services and performing ministries in the home church.
At the end of the ministry discernment period, the nominee and supervising priest/vicar provides reports to the Committee on Priesthood.
7. Postulancy interview with Committee on Priesthood
After receiving the reports on the ministry discernment, the Committee on Priesthood, Bishop Stokes, and the Canon for Ministry Development interview the nominee in January. As a result of the interviews and the reports, the Committee on Priesthood makes a recommendation to the Bishop with respect to postulancy. One of four recommendations will be made:
- Recommended for postulancy
- Recommended for postulancy with provisions
- Not recommended for postulancy
8. Decision of the Bishop regarding postulancy
The nominee will receive a fair and sympathetic reception by the Bishop. All reports and opinions concerning the nominee’s postulancy will be given consideration. The Bishop of the Diocese is the final arbiter in decisions relating to postulancy and is free to follow his Godly judgment. Each nominee will be notified in writing by the Bishop as to whether or not he/she has been accepted as a postulant.
Nominees not recommended for postulancy are welcome to request a meeting with Bishop Stokes.