Doug Cadwallader is a retired priest of The Episcopal Diocese of Texas. He worked on behalf of the Diocese for 33 years, acting as rector and assistant rector at various parishes. Before his retirement, Fr. Cadwallader served at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and School in Houston. Below, Doug Cadwallader outlines the ordainment process for individuals who wish to join the priesthood of the Episcopal Church.
1. The first step of this process is known as discernment. This is a time of soul-searching, when you will weigh all considerations to be sure the priesthood is right for you. Choosing this path is a long-term commitment and requires dedication.
2. After you are interviewed by a discernment committee, usually made up of members of your church’s priesthood and vestry, and it approves of your intentions to join the priesthood, you can meet with the Bishop of your diocese.
3. Some dioceses might require a background check and mental health evaluation before you can proceed to the next steps. It is also important to note that you must have been baptized and confirmed in the church, and possess evidence of education beyond a high school diploma. Once you’ve resolved any background issues, you are officially known as a Candidate for Holy Orders, meaning you are approved to seek out seminary.
4. Seminary lasts for three years and can be completed at any one of the 10 accredited Episcopalian seminaries in the United States. After completing your seminary studies and General Ordination Exams, you will receive a Master of Divinity.
5. After graduation, you will be ordained as a deacon, and continue to train under the guidance of a priest. This training lasts at least six months, after which you enter the priesthood and be assigned to a parish of your own.