“As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing, to share in the administration of Holy Baptism and in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood, and to perform the other ministrations entrusted to you. In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace, and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.”

(BCP p. 531)

What is a Priest?

  • An enthusiastic preacher of the Gospel with an authentic personal faith.
  • A sacramental leader, who is grounded in the Book of Common Prayer.
  • A generalist who ministers to those entrusted to their care: pastor, preacher, teacher, change and conflict manager, administrator, delegator, strategist.
  • “A minister of the whole Church” who serves beyond parish and local contexts and is prepared to respond to God’s call.

The Diocese of Virginia provides a specialized, supported discernment pathway for those under age 30 who are exploring a call to the priesthood.  Learn more about the Young Priest Initiative.

Formation for the Priesthood

Prior to application, admission, or attendance at seminary:

  • Complete all phases of the Diocesan Discernment Process.
  • Nomination for Postulancy by one’s presenting priest and vestry.
  • Complete initial application for Postulancy, including all canonically required evaluations.
  • Spiritual direction and therapy during discernment and formation are strongly suggested.
  • Interview with the Committee on Priesthood; the Bishop determines whether Postulancy is granted considering the recommendation of the Committee on the Priesthood. The Bishop will also speak with those interviewing for Postulancy about seminary formation recommendations. In the Diocese of Virginia, no one is authorized to begin seminary formation without the approval of the Bishop.

Seminary formation:

The normative formation pathway for priests is a three-year seminary formation process. Application for seminary begins AFTER postulancy is granted.

  • All academic formation programs must be approved in advance by your Bishop.
  • M.Div. from Episcopal seminary (normative path is residential seminary; other options may be considered based on each individual’s circumstances):
    • Some seminaries attended by Diocese of Virginia postulants in recent years: Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, VA), Berkeley Divinity School at Yale (CT), Sewanee’s School of Theology (TN), Seminary of the Southwest (Austin, TX), General Theological Seminary (Hybrid), and Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Hybrid).
  • Cost: Consult seminary websites and financial aid offices.

Post-M.Div. Formation

  • Those who have completed seminary previously will be expected to have a plan of continued formation post-M.Div. if granted postulancy. In the Diocese of Virginia, this is a structured and mentored process with an individual learning plan.
  • Anglican Studies Certificate Programs offer a seminary-based pathway for postulants ordained in other traditions or with a non-Episcopal M.Div. to gain essential learning and additional residential formation.

Practical Formation:

In addition to or as part of seminary, the following are required:

  • At least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).
  • Two years of seminary-based internships.
  • Full-time summer internship & peer group colloquy (“Mid-Atlantic”).

Other Steps in the Process

  • Ember Day Letters.
  • General Ordination Exams (GOEs).
  • Curriculum consultation with Vocations Minister.
  • Required trainings and mentoring.