In what is my penultimate formal step in this whole process, I am to forward a formal application to the Bishop of this Diocese the Most Rev. Bishop James Moriarty seeking admission to the propedeutic year of formation. I have just mailed away my letter of application and now await the official response. I have to say I am getting more excited, more nervous and more positive about it as each day passes. What ever about the first two increases I do not like the third as it's God's will that I seek and not my own. Please Lord keep me humble.
I have told a select few about the Parish and it was greeted with positive responses. I have yet to meet the Parish Priest, but think I will delay that until I receive, if God wills, the letter from Carlow inviting me to enter into the propedeutic year.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the term basically it is on par with the Novitiate that aspiring Nuns and Order Priests undertake. In the main part it is spiritual and focusses on personal formation and spiritual direction.
The Directory for Ireland states the following:
28. Prior to his formal selection for the three-year formation programme, and his liturgical admission as a candidate for diaconate, a man must complete a propaedeutic period, under the guidance of a director of formation who will make a recommendation to the bishop regarding the suitability of the candidate. The programme of the propaedeutic period, usually, should not be focused on an academic course, ‘but rather meetings for prayer, instructions, moments of reflection and comparison directed towards ensuring the objective nature of the vocational discernment, according to a well structured plan’. Even at this early stage it is preferable that the wives of married applicants should be involved, and that the willingness of each one to support her husband in his formation and future ministry should be established.
39. The director of formation appointed by the bishop will have the overall responsibility for accompanying the aspirants during this propaedeutic period, and will also maintain regular contact with the family of each candidate and with the parish clergy in his parish of origin. It will be the responsibility of the director of formation to make a recommendation to the diocesan bishop as to the suitability of the aspirant for admission among the candidates for the diaconate.
40. Each aspirant will be assigned a personal tutor, chosen by the director of formation from among the priests and deacons of proven experience, and appointed by the bishop (or the major religious superior in the case of candidates belonging to religious congregations). It will be the task of the tutor to accompany the candidate throughout the propaedeutic period, and to collaborate with the formation director in the programming of the different formation activities and in the preparation of the judgement to be presented to the bishop (or competent major superior), regarding the aspirant’s suitability for admission into formation.
41. Each aspirant will have a spiritual director, approved by the bishop, to whom he will have regular recourse.
42. The pastoral accompaniment of the aspirant during the propaedeutic period will be the responsibility of the parish priest of the parish to which the aspirant has been assigned for the duration of this period.
43. The aspirants will together constitute a formation community, which will help them to develop the habits of working and praying together, and which will both support and challenge them during this time of discernment.
44. It is appropriate that the Rite of Admission to Candidacy be celebrated at the beginning of the period of formation. Given the significance of this rite, it should be celebrated publicly. It should also be preceded by some time of retreat.
As time goes on I am beginning to realise just how fast things are progressing and just how serious they are getting now. Imagine that only 10 months ago, the idea that I would be applying for admission as a candidate to study for the Permanent Diaconate in this Diocese was as far from me, so I thought, as Sydney is from Naas. It seems to just have arrived almost out of the blue even though I was well aware that in October 2000 the Irish Episcopal Conference decided "in the light of the pastoral needs of the Church in Ireland" that the time was now right for the restoration of the permanent diaconate.
Mind you it was a dream alright ever since I read the article in the Sacred Heart Messenger about the Diaconate back in .......ohhhhhh..........1996 I think. I never thought that it would be positioned as it was in the Year of Vocation.
Of providence of course.
Múlier, ecce fílius tuus, Totus Tuus!