Old Catholic Apostolic Church

Ordination and Incardination, Lay work and serving.

All of us have a vocation. For some of us, that vacation may take on the expression of ordained Christian ministry. For others, it may be expressed in many possible aspects of spiritual and practical service. This page aims to assist those who are interested in the further discernment of their vocation, and are considering whether they may wish to present themselves as candidates for ordination in the Old Catholic Apostolic Church, and those who have already received ordination elsewhere and are considering whether to apply to the Church for incardination. For others, lay work may offer a better path to further their faith.

Are you interested in joining our church? Information for enquirers is here.

What sort of person is eligible?
The Church ordains both men and women to Holy Orders equally. It does not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality or marital status, and does not require celibacy from its clergy. It does not impose any upper limit for the age of ordinands. It affirms the ministry of people with disabilities.

The Church respects that its clergy may hold different opinions on issues of theology and ministry. However, all applicants for ordination/incardination must be actively accepting of the liberal ethos of the Church and the spiritual foundations established in its Canons.

The clergy is composed of extremely varied individuals. There is no one "type" to conform to, and indeed the diversity in the clergy reflects the diversity of humankind. Nor is any particular background favoured over another. Good clergy include blue-collar workers, high-level executives and homemakers, to name but a few. They are people who are rightly respected by society, and society in turn has a right to expect that a clergyperson will conduct him or herself with integrity.

The Church recognises that ministry expresses itself in diverse contexts. It will ordain both those who are called to a traditional congregational ministry, leading a parish or community, as well as those whose vocation is in outreach and mission. The Church is a sacramental community, and those seeking ordination/incardination to the Priesthood are expected to be committed to regular celebration of the Mass.  Newly ordained clergy are given temporary Faculties for their first year, which is probationary, and on satisfactory completion are advanced to regular Faculties thereafter. All clergy are expected to maintain, and grow, their ministries which must be tangible and have an active expression.

All applicants must be fully self-supporting. The Church does not pay stipends to clergy or cover their expenses. All clergy are unpaid, voluntary and non-stipendary. Most of our clergy support themselves through a combination of ministerial and secular work, although a few do support themselves through full-time ministry.

The Church is highly selective concerning the men and women admitted for ordination/incardination. It looks for the personal and spiritual qualities that will lead to a successful and valuable independent ministry within the Church, and the resilience to cope with what can at times be a lonely and challenging vocation. Above all, it looks for a good fit between the applicant and the Church, so that a long-term and productive relationship can be assured.

Incardination
Men and women who have been previously ordained may apply for incardination to the Church. The procedure is as follows:
  • completion and submission of the application form according to the instructions on the form
  • submission of copies of all certificates of ordination and postsecondary academic study, including formal and informal theological training
  • submission of a criminal record clearance (in the UK, this means a CRB or Police National Computer check; a different procedure applies to oversees applicants) 
  • submission of Letters of Excardination or proof of leaving the previous church, unless dual serving applies.
Applicants for ordination or incardination will be asked to attend an interview with a senior priest or bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop or a representative appointed by them. They will be asked to explain their path in ministry to date, and their reasons for believing that they are suited to ministry in the Old Catholic Apostolic Church. They may be asked to undergo subconditional re-ordination in certain circumstances. They may be required to complete additional educational prerequisites if their previous ministerial education indicates gaps, and it is usual for applicants from the mainstream denominations to be required to complete academic work on the Independent Sacramental Movement and to receive altar training. They must demonstrate a sufficient foundation in matters of faith and ministry. A period of formal discernment is usually required.

Clergy who have served ministerially at a level equivalent to deaconess, deacon or priest in churches which are not in the Apostolic Succession may apply for incardination according to the procedure above, but with the understanding that if they are accepted, they will either be subconditionally re-ordained in the Apostolic Succession, or admitted to a pastorate (see below).

The Church does not accept ministerial credentials from internet-based churches or similar that offer "instant ordination" or ordinations that are 'purchased' as fulfilling the requirements for incardination, regardless of their legality or the genuineness of the ministry of the person concerned.

The admission to the Pastorate occurs in circumstances where a candidate has had a non-apostolic ministry, and then as a dual function with pastorate being held in a body of the church like the Cross Denominational Mission while the priestly function is worked through (or trained to) the OCAC. Some clergy serve in minor orders in the sacramental strand, whilst exercising a full ministry in their pastorate. For those more suited to vocational work rather than academic study; it is possible to train directly for the pastorate using the Cross Denominational Mission's Pastors Training Program. After a suitable qualifying period serving in a pastorate, Holy Orders may be conferred, although some seminarian study will be required to 'fill the gaps' in your formation.

The Church will only accept the incardination of bishops in particular circumstances. No person, whether or not he or she has been consecrated bishop, may be admitted to the church until he or she has served satisfactorily for a time as a priest in the Old Catholic Apostolic Church.

Ordination
Men and women who have not been previously ordained may apply for ordination in the Church. The procedure is as follows:
  • completion and submission of the application form according to the instructions on the form
  • submission of copies of all certificates of postsecondary academic study, including formal and informal theological training if any
  • submission of a criminal record clearance (in the UK, this means a CRB or Police National Computer check, for oversees candidates a different procedure applies) 
Candidates will usually be asked to attend an interview with a senior priest or bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop or a representative appointed by them. They will be asked to explain their reasons for believing that they are suited to ministry in the Old Catholic Apostolic Church. A period of formal discernment is then followed.

All ordinands are required to show completion of an acceptable level of education, in addition to a sufficient foundation in matters of faith and ministry. This requirement may be satisfied in full or in part by previous education and experience. For those who need to complete their educational requirements, every effort is made to ensure that no ordinand will be prevented from proceeding for financial reasons.

All ordinands must be able to demonstrate competancy on the altar or complete altar training. This is achieved through attachment to a parish or an oratory of the Church, where the ordinand will be expected to undertake regular duties and receive training from an experienced priest or bishop.

The Church practices ordination in the Apostolic Succession through the laying on of hands by a bishop in a public, open service.

Lay work and serving
Many people are just not called to the ordained ministry for any number of reasons. The OCAC has numerous valuable and worthwhile roles for those in this position. There are also several associated and sister groups that have needs for people in this category. If this is for you please enquire here:

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