Some are called to ordained ministry as deacons, priests, or bishops.
A. Deacons The ministry of a deacon is to represent Christ and Christ’s Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. In the Independent Catholic Christian Church, all who are ordained priests or bishops must first spend at least a year as a deacon, and they retain the obligations of the diaconate after their ordination to the priesthood. Some may be called to be deacons for the remainder of their lives, without being called to the priesthood.
B. Priests The ministry of a priest is to represent Christ and Christ’s Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God. In the Independent Catholic Christian Church, all priests are worker priests, who must support themselves by secular employment. This gives our priests both additional burdens and additional freedom in carrying out their ministry.
C. Bishops The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and Christ’s Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a particular diocese or jurisdiction; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry. In the Independent Catholic Christian Church, bishops will only be consecrated if the community has discerned a need. We will only participate in the consecration of bishops for churches with whom we are in full communion.
D. Discerning a Vocation Those discerning a vocation to ordained ministry in the Independent Catholic Christian Church exhibit these qualities:
* Creedally Orthodox – aspirants have a strong saving faith in the Triune God, the Incarnation, and the Atonement won by Christ through the Cross and Resurrection * Joyfully Sacramental – aspirants have been baptized and confirmed and are regular participants in the Eucharist, and they feel a hunger to celebrate the sacraments (priest) or assist in the celebration of the sacraments (deacons) * Radically Inclusive – aspirants are willing and able to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of personal characteristics, and in particular, are strong supporters of the ordination of both men and women and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual Christians and the marriage of both same-sex and opposite-sex couples * Deeply Prayerful – aspirants are committed to daily prayer and the nurture of their spiritual lives and are willing to grow in their spiritual lives in their journey of formation * Liturgically Diverse – aspirants are grounded in a particular rite, however they are willing to pray in a variety of authentic Christian traditions and to extend tolerance of liturgical diversity, being willing to officiate at liturgies of other authorized rites if the needs of the congregation are served by doing so * Generously Relational – aspirants have healthy relationships with themselves and others and are involved in a local faith community and are willing to grow in their understanding of and practice of community
E. Formation for Ordained Ministry The Independent Catholic Christian Church engages in formation of those preparing for ordained ministry through a program of reading for orders and mentorship through its Christ the Eternal High Priest Institute for Pastoral Studies. This program focuses on academic, spiritual, and ministerial formation. For those without previous formation, this program will take three or four years. Those with previous formation will have that formation evaluated to determine if some of the requirements of our formation program are fulfilled. Candidates for ordination grow into it by the traditional rites of tonsure as clerics, the minor orders, and the subdiaconate.
There are seven areas of formation, and these traditional grades are connected with each area, with the appropriate order being conferred at the conclusion of each area:
Entry into candidacy for ordination: Tonsure as cleric Scripture: Doorkeeper Theology: Reader Spirituality: Exorcist Church history: Acolyte Ethics: Subdeacon Liturgy: Deacon Pastoral arts: Priest
Of course, all clergy are expected to engage in life-long learning and continuing education.
Those who are already ordained as deacons or priests and who are accepted for transfer to the Independent Catholic Christian Church will go through a year of probation and formation for ministry in this jurisdiction, with quarterly evaluation.
Those who wish to inquire about discerning a vocation to ordained ministry in the Independent Catholic Christian Church should contact our Vocations Director at ICCCVocations@gmail.com.
For additional information about our formation or incardination process for clergy, please read our Canons.