Discernment: Incardination

Incardination is the process by which a Cleric or Sacred Minister becomes Canonically part of a Catholic Church or jurisdiction. Every Catholic cleric belongs to a particular church, this has been the case for centuries since the earliest Church Councils stipulated that every Ordained man should belong to a particular church community and a particular Bishop. In every Catholic jurisdiction in the world, East or West, Sacred Ministers be they deacon, priest or bishop belong to a Church in this way.

In the Communion, Ordination means “belonging to” and “obedience” i.e. the cleric is recognised as a member of the Church and is entitled to the privileges and rights that pertain to his status in Canon Law and at the same time is beholden to certain responsibilities and ultimately subject to his ecclesiastical superior, the Bishop. Catholic tradition and order dictates that a cleric and particularly a Sacred Minister can only act sacramentally on behalf of a Bishop, incardination provides this cover.

Why incardinate with the Orthodox Old Roman Catholic Communion?

There are several reasons why an cleric may wish to incardinate with the Communion. Through no fault of their own some clerics find in the development of their spiritual life and vocation that they no longer feel called to minister within the original church of their ordination. The Communion does not discriminate against clergy who left a celibate ministry to become married or who no longer feel called to a celibate expression of commitment; who no longer feel able in conscience to continue their ministry in the church of their ordination or who for whatever reason resigned their original ministry and wish to become active again.

The process of incardination in the Communion involves a period of discernment and communication in the first instance between the inquiring cleric and the nominated liaison for the Church. During this time, the candidate is invited to supply as much information as possible as to their reasons for seeking incardination, the circumstances of their leaving the church of their ordination and the liaising representative answers questions about ministry within the Communion. All discussions at this stage are kept confidential. If after this initial period both parties feel that pursuing incardination would be the best step forward, on recommendation of the liaising representative an Application Form will be sent to the candidate from the Chancellery who will oversee the Incardination Process.

Throughout the Incardination Process candidates will be invited to provide as much information as possible regarding their previous ministry, the circumstances of their leaving, their reasons for seeking incardination within the Communion and what they feel they can contribute to the mission and ministry of the Church. A cleric will not be incardinated who does not have some plan of ministry for the future unless he is sufficiently prohibited from exercising a ministry through infirmity or advanced age.

Various documents will be required from clergy wishing to incardinate supporting their Application including Certificates of Ordination, Confirmation and Baptism as too any documents providing proof of professional training and academic qualifications. As well evidence of excardination or rescript from a candidate’s previous jurisdiction or equivalent documents are desirable. In certain circumstances where it is not always possible or difficult to provide documentary evidence (e.g. the church of baptism no longer exists, documents/records destroyed or mislaid etc), some alternatives of proof are accepted.

References too are required from people who have known personally, worked with or taught the candidate both in secular and church life and if relevant a letter of support for their application from the candidate’s spouse. The Communion believes that incardination is an holistic process seeking to know the “whole person” and candidates are encouraged to be open about their life and experiences – the good and the bad. The Communion does not discriminate nor re-judge candidates for passed mistakes neither does it seek to inflict renewed condemnation however, severe legal sanctions whether secular or ecclesiastical will be taken into consideration sensitively.

The Communion hopes that whatever the outcome of an Application, the process will have been as painless and as spiritually rewarding for the candidate as possible.

The Communion is an orthodox jurisdiction possessed of sacramental validity through an unquestionable, authentic and recognised Apostolic Lineage.

  • It is a recognised Christian denomination and enjoys membership and affiliation with the World Council of Churches and other Christian bodies.
  • It has fraternal relationships with other recognised orthodox churches of the Catholic Tradition both nationally and internationally and by Eastern and Western rite churches and has a reputation for stability and propriety. It also enjoys charitable relations with other churches within the UK of various traditions.
  • It is a Canonical jurisdiction where the rights and responsibilities of clerics and laity are provided and protected and it conducts its internal affairs appropriately, justly and charitably.
  • It is a personable church meaning that due to it’s size its clergy and people are known to each other and know and are known by their Bishop(s), a real community of Christian fellowship and a living school of Christian discipleship.

In the first instance you should write to the Vocations Director for your location with a comprehensive explanation of your vocation, your current state and any relevant discernment history. By return you will receive information about the Application process for your region.

IF you are already an Ordained minister and are seeking Incardination, when you write to the Vocations Director, please explain in detail why you are leaving your current jurisdiction. Please also give as much information about your current ministry as possible – where exactly you minister, your type of ministry (full/part-time, chaplaincy, pastoral, education etc) and whether you intend/will be able to continue this post-incardination. You should also provide information about the Orders you have received, including the Apostolic Succession of your Ordaining bishops; it may be necessary to receive conditional Ordination on your reception into the Old Roman Catholic Church.

The following are criteria for applicants offering themselves for Sacred Ministry:

  • 19 to 50 years of age. Vocations over the age of 50 years are determined on a case -by-case basis.
  • Good physical and mental health.
  • Moral Aptitude and Intellectual Ability
  • Completion of Secondary Education
  • Minimum of two years at Tertiary College level education, preferably in Divinity sciences e.g. theology, philosophy.
  • Freedom from financial obligations.
  • Ability to support one’s self financially
  • Strong sense of piety and sacrificial willingness to give oneself to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Applications should be accompanied by the following supporting documents:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Confirmation Certificate
  • High School, College Transcript (if applicable) and Diploma
  • Recent physician’s letter attesting to good health.
  • Detailed Autobiography
  • Letters of Recommendation from two priests.
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Psychological Evaluation

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