Vocations

Come, respond to God's invitation to the fullness of life. Be a priest, a deacon, a monastic, a member of religious family of apostolic life... If you love Jesus Christ, His Church and want to share that love with others in the world, if you are looking for a challenge, a sacrifice, then consider serving the faithful of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg.

For more information, contact:
Fr. Emil Kardasinec, Vocations Director
233 Scotia Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R2V 1V7
204-476-3857
E-mail: vocations@archeparchy.ca

How do I become a priest or deacon?

Since each eparchy has its own priestly and diaconal formation program, the information presented here is more general in nature.

  • Dedicating one’s life to Christ - the nature of ordained ministry
  • The principles behind the priestly and diaconal formation programs
  • How do I become a priest if I intend to be celibate?
  • How do I become a priest if I am married or intend to be married?
  • How do I become a priest if I am already a deacon?
  • I am near retirement age; can I still qualify for the priesthood?
  • How do I become a deacon?
  • The priestly formation program - personal discernment
  • Who can I contact for more information?

Dedicating one’s life to Christ:
the nature of ordained ministry

As Christians we believe and understand that all human beings were made in the image and likeness of God:

God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Genesis 1:26)

Moreover, as Christians, we understand that, because God appeared to us in the flesh - namely in the person of Jesus Christ - that we are to model ourselves after our Creator as He appeared to us in the flesh; in other words, we are all called to be an "image of Christ":

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

God made us, so He knows what is best for us. Christians understand that people can only achieve their full potential as human beings when they live their lives according to God's will - and God willed that we follow His Son's teachings and example:

Suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)

It is only by living a Christ-centered life that a person can achieve - and help others achieve - their fullest human potential, which is: eternal life:

God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11)

Priests, because of the sacramental nature of their ministry, are especially seen to be the primary symbol or "image" of Christ. As such, it is especially important that candidates for the priesthood and the diaconate develop all aspects of their Christ-like nature - this means to be totally conformed to the will of God:

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9-10)

The principles behind the priestly and diaconal formation programs

Because of the nature of ordained ministry, it is especially important that priestly or diaconal candidates undergo a program of human development that involves their whole being - heart, mind, body and soul. With this in mind, priestly and diaconal development in the Catholic Church is based on what is called the "Four Pillars of Formation." Our Holy Father, Pope John II, in his apostolic exhortation on priestly formation entitled I Will Give You Shepherds (Pastores Dabo Vobis), outlines four key areas formation that are essential in developing a person’s full human potential in Christ. These are: human formation, spiritual formation, academic formation, and pastoral formation. It is on these four "pillars" that all Catholic priestly and diaconal formation programs are based.

How do I become a celibate or married priest?

Generally, whether celibate or married, to qualify as a candidate to the priesthood in the Eastern Catholic Church, and, more specifically, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church:

  • you must have completed high school (or equivalent education) to begin studies for the priesthood
  • you must be at least 24 years old in order to qualify for ordination (canon 759.1)
  • you must be baptized and/or chrismated (confirmed) in the Ukrainian Catholic Church (if you are from another Eastern Catholic Church or Latin Church you must obtain permission from your bishop to transfer Rites)
  • you must have a letter of reference from your pastor and/or church community.
  • you must meet certain academic requirements
  • you must undergo a period of spiritual formation in a seminary
  • you must be ordained and serve as a deacon for a minimum of one year
  • you must either know or be willing to learn the Ukrainian language.

Candidates are chosen according to the needs of a particular eparchy. Historically, the Eastern Church has always sought to have certain proportion of clergy that come from various walks of life: young and old, married and celibate, secular and monastic, and from various work backgrounds.

Regarding married clergy: Throughout the centuries, the Eastern Catholic Church has always had the right to ordain married men to the priesthood. Eastern Church tradition has always held clerical celibacy in high esteem and it has always looked upon married clergy with great honour also (canon 373).

Regarding candidates who are already married: Part of the process involves interviewing the spouses to see if they fully aware of the responsibilities that are associated with being a priest's wife. Married candidates also must be aware that, if they are widowed or if their marriage is annulled, they cannot remarry.

Regarding candidates to the priesthood who intend to be married: Such candidates can enter into marriage before they are ordained to the diaconate, but not after.

How do I become a priest if I am already a deacon?

You must have a letters of reference from your pastor, your church community, your director of priestly formation, your seminary rector; and you must meet the academic requirements as outlined below.

How do I become a deacon?

The general rule in the Eastern and Western churches is that married men can be ordained to the diaconate. But, there are certain conditions attached to this rule; specifically: if a deacon becomes widowed, or if his marriage is annulled, he cannot remarry; and, once an unmarried man becomes a deacon he cannot remarry.

To qualify for ordination to the diaconate:

  • you must have completed high school (or equivalent education) to begin studies for the priesthood
  • you must be at least 23 years old in order to qualify for ordination (canon 759.1)
  • you must be baptized and/or chrismated (confirmed) in the Eastern Catholic Rite (if you are a Latin Catholic you must obtain permission from the Latin bishop to transfer Rites).
  • you must have a letter of reference from your pastor and/or church community.
  • you must meet certain academic requirements and other requirements which are outlined below.
  • you must declare that your intention is only to serve as a “permanent” deacon.
  • you must be financially independent.
  • you must either know or be willing to learn the Ukrainian language.

Candidates to the diaconate are required to complete a three-year program of studies at a house of diaconal studies (canon 354). During this time candidates are required to follow a program of spiritual formation which includes attending a spiritual program at a seminary or a series of weekday or weekend retreats sponsored by the eparchy.

The period of time spent in the diaconal formation program constitutes major portion of a candidate’s period of "questioning" or "discernment." During this time, a candidate has a chance to explore whether he is suited for the life-long commitment of diaconal ministry or not. The eparchy provides spiritual advisors to help the candidate grow spiritually and to help him along in his time of discernment.

Priestly formation program - personal discernment

Priestly formation in the Catholic Church is based on what is called the "Four Pillars of Formation." Our Holy Father, Pope John II, in his apostolic exhortation on priestly formation entitled I Will Give You Shepherds (Pastores Dabo Vobis), outlines four key areas formation that are essential in developing a person's full human potential in Christ. These are: human formation, spiritual formation, academic formation, and pastoral formation. It is on these four "pillars" that all Catholic priestly and diaconal formation programs are based.

Academic Formation

Academic requirements are determined on a case-to-case basis. Generally, candidates will need to complete a five to six year program of philosophical-theological studies at an accredited university (canon 760.2). More mature candidates may qualify for a special mature vocations program where the candidate's previous education, work and life experience, and past church involvement are taken into account (canon 344.4). The best way to find out what options are open to you is to get in touch with your bishop or Vocations Director (see list of contacts below).

Pastoral Formation

In addition to completing a number of pastoral courses as part of their Theological degree requirement, candidates - after graduation - must complete a one year pastoral internship program under the supervision of a pastoral director. During this time, pastoral interns may be assigned to a variety of pastoral ministries: parish ministry, hospital ministry, etc.

Spiritual Formation

While taking theological courses at university, candidates are expected either live in a seminary (celibate candidates) or be attached to a seminary (married candidates) and follow the seminary's program of spiritual formation which involves participating in things like daily worship services, spiritual exercises, pastoral programs and in-house courses.

Human Formation

It is within the human formation component of priestly development that all the aforementioned elements of an individual's formation are integrated in order to build a "well-rounded" individual of good Christ-like character - an individual whose main purpose in life is to consciously live a holy, Christ-centered life (Be holy; for I, the LORD, your God, am holy - Leviticus 20:7; Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” - John 14:6). It is only by living a Christ-centered life that a person can achieve - and help others achieve - their fullest human potential, which is: eternal life. Using the spiritual component - worship, prayer, meditation, etc. - as its core, the human formation component seeks to guide individuals on how to conform all their gifts and talents to the service of God (serve the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul - Deuteronomy 10:12).

Personal Discernment

The period of time spent in the seminary constitutes a major portion of a candidate's period of "questioning" or "discernment." During this time, a candidate has a chance to explore whether he is suited for the life-long commitment of priesthood or not. As well, the seminary formation staff, the vocations director, and the bishop use this time to discern whether the candidate suited for ordained ministry or not.

As part of the formation program, the seminary provides spiritual advisors to help candidates grow spiritually and to help candidates along in their time of discernment in order that they may be able to fully respond to Christ's calling:

Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

Who can I contact for more information?

For more information regarding the Eparchy of Winnipeg’s priestly and diaconal formation program, please feel free to phone, email, Fax, or write the eparchial vocations director:

Fr. Emil Kardasinec
Vocations Director, Archparchy of Winnipeg
Box 878, Neepawa, Manitoba R0J 1H0
Phone & Fax: 1-204-476-3857
E-mail: vocations@archeparchy.ca