Normal life at the Seminary is interrupted sporadically throughout the year to install men as either lectors, acolytes, or candidates. This past week I and 8 other classmates were formally received as candidates for the orders of diaconate and priesthood.
One might ask “What is candidacy?” The short answer is that it marks our bishop’s formal acceptance of our being in seminary and preparing to be ordained. Yet, were we not already in seminary for five or six years? Indeed, some seminaries ask that guys be admitted to candidacy prior to even entering major seminary, but SPSSOD does not. What, then, does this mean to the individual going through this ritual? I believe that how this was experienced by each of my classmates varied, but for me it became one of the more powerful moments in seminary, though this was quite unexpected.
What struck me particularly deeply was not so much the ceremony in itself but what took place immediately preceding the rite (the homily) and immediately following the rite (mainly the offertory rite). In his homily, Bishop Kinney (of Saint Cloud) made the statement that this ritual is our bishops' “Yes” to our willingness to serve saying, “the Church accepts you as candidates.” Yet, this did not strike me until the offertory rite when we prayed the words, “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church.” At which point the words of the bishop flooded my mind and I realized that not only was my bishop accepting me as a candidate to the orders of diaconate and priesthood, but that God too (speaking through the bishop) was accepting the sacrifice of my life, as well as the lives of my brother seminarians, in order to serve the Church.
Now that we have been received into all the institutions/ministries prior to ordination, the prospect of diaconal ordination looms large in all of our thoughts. It is both an exciting and nervous time for all of us. Please keep the class of theology III in your prayers as well as all of the seminarians as we continue our journey towards a deeper relationship with Christ and towards ordination. Future Priests of the Third Millenium (Mike)