The Necessity of Spiritual Formation

It seems that the “Sex Czar” series has touched upon a few nerves. From a layman’s standpoint, especially one who is committed to greater episcopal responsibility, I decry the continued centralization of power in Syossett. There is a need for a central chancery attached to the primatial See to be sure, but the life of the Church is in the parishes, which are gathered around their bishop. Syossett, Englewood, or 79th Street can’t possibly imitate this model by any stretch of the imagination. And for the OCA, which is a truly local Church, it should be viewed for what it is: a relic of its ethnic, eparchial past.

Be that as it may, it has still not been settled to my satisfaction that there is a problem with sexual misconduct. However the possibility of such activities by priests certainly raises red flags and justifiably so. Unfortunately, any investigative type of scheme would only address problems after the fact. Whether we are talking about ten cases or a hundred, we would continue to be reactive instead of pro-active.

So how to be pro-active?

Please take the time to read this fine essay by Fr Peter Preble. A frequent commentator on this blog, he recently raised the issue which a growing chorus of people think is the real problem –that of the spiritual formation of priests. I think he’s on to something. For what it’s worth, the Roman Catholic Church has embarked on a massive revamping of its vocational program, with a resultant significant decrease in all cases of misconduct.

Priestly Formation

Source: Fr. Peter Preble Blog | By Fr. Peter Preble

This is the first of what I hope to be a series of essays on the topic of priestly formation.  This is a topic that I believe needs some serious study in the Orthodox Church in the 21st century.

Recently, a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese, was convicted of one count of assault and battery on a woman with whom he had a counseling relationship.  Last week a story appeared in the National Herald of a 50 year old married seminarian at Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts who is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.  In the same edition of the National Herald appeared a story of the New Dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in new York suggesting that the priest had anger issues that have existed for most of his ministry.  These are just a few, very recent, examples of why I believe we need a discussion about how we are forming our clergy.

Back in the early 90’s I applied for admission to Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Massachusetts.  As part of the acceptance process I was required to undergo a battery of psychological and personality tests.  Over a period of two days the tests were administered followed by an interview with a psychologist.  The final report was given both to me and to the monastery.  Since I was accepted for entrance I will assume there were no “red flags.”

Now fast forward to 2000 when I applied for admission to St. John’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of Boston.  The psychological evaluation I had previously taken was used as well and another battery of tests to fill in the gaps since the test was first administered.  Again no “red flags” as I was accepted to the seminary.

On March 25, 1992, Pope John Paul II released a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis – I Will Give You Shepherds.  This exhortation covered all aspects of priestly formation and changed the way candidates for the priesthood are formed.  It laid out a plan of four pillars of formation, Academic, Pastoral, Spiritual, and Human.  Each area was fully explained and I will leave it to you to read the document if you wish.  I submit that at the present time, for the most part, our seminary formation consists of academic and little less on the others.

As part of the seminary formation at St. John’s, each seminarian was required to have a faculty advisor and spiritual father.  The seminarian would meet with both of these men once each month.  Part of the spiritual father relationship was the sacrament of confession.  I will suggest that a priest that does not receive the sacrament of confession on a regular, and by that I mean monthly, needs to reexamine their relationship to the Church.  I say that to  myself as much as to others.  Confession for the priest is extremely important.  If you do not have a spiritual father, GET ONE AND SOON!

Also, as part of the formation process, was the weekly meeting for human formation.  During these times we had discussions about sexuality and, as it was the Roman Catholic Seminary, celibacy.  Another topic was appropriate boundaries in pastoral relationships with children, people of the same sex, and people of the opposite sex.  I found these sessions extremely helpful in my own formation and use the things I learned every day in pastoral ministry.  I would also suggest that candidates for ordination who are married need to undergo some sort of marriage counseling.  Realizing that marriage is challenging during the best of times, add the stress of pastoral ministry to it and it is a recipe for disaster.  If the married couple is not properly formed in their married life, they need to learn skills that will assist them in ministry.  I would add that in my belief couples should be married for several years after seminary prior to their ordination.  I have seen many couples meet in seminary and start having children, graduate, get ordained, and head to their first parish all before they have really experienced married life.

Academics are important to the life of the priest, and yes the church needs theologians, but a priest is called to lead a local community first.  He is called to be the spiritual head of that community, and although he needs a sound academic formation what I have found in close to eight years in ministry, is that I needed far more practical pastoral formation rather than the excellent academic formation I received.

We are living in a crazy world and what we need more than anything at this point are true pastors that understand that the role of the pastor is to love the people that God has put them in care of and to lead them to salvation.  We need confessors and spiritual fathers who understand not only the sacrament of confession but also understand humanity in all its craziness and we need pastors who know their limitations and are not afraid to ask for help.  I would also suggest that what is need is true Orthodox Monasticism here in America.  We have some but we need many more.  Authentic, stable monastic communities that can be examples of spirituality for the Church.

I have no credentials to suggest these things other than I am struggling in the fields and see where the church is going and only wish to help.  I have made mistakes and learned from them.  What I hope is that we can have a discussion on this topic, a true discussion and see where it leads.


  1. I would like to suggest that Fr. Peter write to the heads of the different Orthodox seminaries and ask how these issues are handled currently.

    • Helga,

      I am sure they would answer that these areas are being addressed. I am not sure what is done at other seminaries but I can tell you that during my time at Holy Cross it was not.

      • Fr. Peter, again, I would like to suggest that you ask the heads of the seminaries how these issues are currently handled. You admit you don’t know how things are handled at seminaries other than Holy Cross, so why did you not direct your criticisms at Holy Cross specifically? Why didn’t you make an effort to find out the extent of the problem before treating it as if it were a problem across the board?

        • An oncologist does not send every patient for cancer treatment as if they were all stage-four, he treats them differently based on what kind of cancer it is and how far it has spread.

        • I have priest friends who went to other seminaries. I trust their opinion. And I do believe I said I do not have all the answers.

  2. Fr. Peter Dubinin says

    I can only affirm and confirm everything my brother has written. I remember as a very young student at Moody Bible Institute I paused one day amidst the flurry of college life and wondered how what I was doing and what I was receiving in the classroom was going to prepare me for pastoral ministry? As I looked around me I saw a whole bunch of “Timothys” running around but no “Pauls” to train them. I spent many years looking for a pastor to share in my pastoral formation. Except for a brief time in seminary, my experience has been mostly miss; learning most of my pastoral lessons through trial and error. Yes, we need to do a much better job of priestly formation prior to and in seminary but we also need to do a much better job of shoring up our clergy already on the parish. I’m all about personal responsibility; ultimately each priest must act on what we already know to do for personal growth, accountability, etc., but judging from some responses to issues provided through this site, it seems once again where this and related matters is being done well is the exception and not the rule. I would be curious to learn about more places within the church where good priestly formation is taking place and deaneries and or dioceses where ongoing priestly formation is being done well.

  3. If I might add to the conversation. One of the other issues, that I did not write about, is the fact that our diocese are far to large at the moment. I am lucky to be where I am and have access to many excellent theological schools for continuing education and the like. My parish is a size that I am able to take time during the summer months to attend conferences. Perhaps we could develop a series of webinars to address certain continuing education issues that could be used across all jurisdictions. I also believe that bishops need to hold us clergy more accountable (now that was a horrible sentence but you get the idea) on taking time for spiritual retreats during the year as well as continuing education.

    Just a few more thoughts.

    • “our diocese are far to large at the moment”

      Exactly what I was thinking, and it is the same for all jurisdictions. How can a Bishop effectively pastor a diocese that stretches from Canada to Mexico and from Montana to Ohio?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Alec, two-word answer: he can’t.

        • Michael Bauman says

          That is my concern for Bishop Basil, he not only has a diocese that makes up the Louisana Purchase plus Texas and New Mexico (54 parishes and growing), but he is the Secretary of the EA and the vicar of the Western Rite with little budget and little direct assistance. So far he remains effective (we are growing and deepening), but it is because of the level of support he has within the diocese at all levels and his deepening monastic life. Or so it seems to me.

  4. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I am distressed by these recent articles, George. Is the OCA (and other jurisdictions) really so full of misfits as it would seem on these pages? Are our married priests as clueless about balancing their lives as pastors and husbands as some of the news indicates? I have a friend in southern New England who shared with me a story about a married priest who was exceedingly popular (and apparently very well balanced) who was just found guilty of sexual improprieties with a mentally unbalanced woman in his parish. I think this may be the one that Fr. Preble is referring to. Evidently he has to serve some time in prison! Then we have Fr. Peter’s story (above) about the aged seminarian who was molesting a (probably very vulnerable and possibly unbalanced) teenager! Given the success rate of the programs for clergy formation in the RC church, I’m not so sure that batteries of psychological testing will help that much, either.

    I am emphatically NOT one of those people who runs around proclaiming that we are in the end times–we’ve been in them since the day of Pentecost–but all of this really is enough to make one wonder.

    The problems we are facing cannot be dealt with by Sexual Misconduct Committees or psychological testing and spiritual fathers are not made to order. We can diagnose this problem to death and come up with all sorts of programs and seminars, but I don’t think they will do us much good. We have been tainted by the “values” of the society in which we live and we have lost the fear of God. That is the deadly combination that is doing us in and putting more pastoral education into the seminary curriculum won’t really help, either. (Just witness how much putting more professional development for teachers has “helped” our collapsing educational system!). If there is little or no real belief in God, then how can we be saved from these awful occurrences? This is a far bigger problem than any seminary is equipped to fix. You can’t “fix” unbelief, you can only repent of it.

    I think it would be good for us all to hear some stories about the good pastors who serve us in the trenches of this great Spiritual War. We have concentrated far too much on the ones who have failed. Let’s hear about the hero priests and matushkas who haven’t given up. Lets hear about the parishes and the faithful who just keep working and praying and going on. They are out there. They must be out there.

    • Just to clarify, the priest was accused of sexual improprieties he was convicted of assault. Not that that is any better mind you but we need to speak about the facts.

    • Michael Bauman says

      It is not just the priests. It is what they run into in some of our parishes. I have a good friend who could have been an excellent priest but right out of semainary he was put into what I call a ‘priest eating parish’. He was a torn man after that experience especially since his bishop did not support him. Even after several years of rehabilitation in a really good setting, he eventually left.

      While there is a hierarchy, it is up to all of us to allow the love of Christ to form us, temper us and transform us. If we lay folks don’t make the attempt, from where are the priests going to come? They are not dropped in from above.

      It is not just a clergy problem, it is an ecclesial problem.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Michael, you’ve touched upon a nerve. We in the laity bear an equal responsibility for any turmoil and dysfunction that exists in American Orthodoxy. I have no intenntion of letting we laymen off the hook.

        • Michael Bauman says

          George, I want to be clear that in addition to making noise about problems, we have to continue to work on our obedience to the life of the Church. That is what spiritual formation is IMO. As important as a spiritual father/mother can be in such a journey I do not believe they are at all essential for most laymen.

          Our parish communities themselves can act in much the same manner.

          Off the top of my head check list that I need to work on:

          Serving the community in ways that don’t call attention to myself

          Developing and following a prayer rule for my family in consultation with my priest/confessor (much better way of looking at it that the term ‘spiritual father’ BTW).

          Attending not only Sunday Divine Liturgy with a reverant heart, but any other services which my parish may offer with as much regularity as possible.

          Going to confession often with my parish priest. If more people in each parish went to confession with their priest it is likely that the entire parish would experience a renewal of hope and a deeping of connection with one another. In so doing the priest would also be strengthened in his ministry

          Giving alms (not just to the parish, but to people I know who need help)

          Forgiving my brothers and sisters and asking for forgiveness. Apologies (no matter how sincere) rarely have anything to do with real compuction and forgiveness.

          Learning to fast, not just give up some classes of foods for a realatively short period of time

          Being in the world for the sake of others

          Not having a critical mind. I was introduced to the difference between a critical mind and a discerning heart when I read Stanislavky’s great book on acting, “Building a Character” many years ago. There is a section in the book in which the main student is followed in his effort to build the character of The Critic and all of the distortions of soul and body that he had to go through to be that character. Quite memorable.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Ivan, please understand, the thrust of my “Sex Czar” series was that the OCA (and other jurisdictions) are NOT full of “misfits.” In fact, quite the opposite –at least as far as I’m concerned. Instead, it is Syossett/MC which is creating the meme that sexual improprieties are rampant.

      • Diogenes says


        This is crazy! Syosset is comprised of maybe 5-6 employees; that’s it! And certainly + Jonah isn’t promoting sexual deviation or is this what you are suggesting? Within all the Orthodox seminaries, there is a focus on those entering to be examined thoroughly, however, most of the wacko clergy come from the converts who may have never seen the inside of an Orthodox seminary. The Greeks, well, they’re Greeks!

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Correction: Syossett is made up of 5-6 employees each of whom makes way more than the average parish priest. And some of these people have publicly humiliated His Beatitude, made his life miserable behind the scenes, and secretly conspired against him with former members of the Metropolitan Council. By all means let’s hire two more people at $125K per year and give them authority to look under the beds of every poorly paid priest in the OCA.

          • George,

            The mere fact that the former chancellor was in the thick of things last year, working against the Metropolitan and undermining his position, yet given a “golden parachute” by the MC and Synod as a paid “consultant’ then given a primo parish in the Midwest tells us exactly what we need to know about the inner workings of the OCA.

            +Jonah is a figurehead. He goes out and makes speeches, approved by the Synod and Chancery at venues (ACNA and recently in London) that are of little consequence to the OCA. He has been isolated, emasculated and like Theodosius, a nice guy to trot out when needed. He has no authority inside and outside his diocese.

            Yet, his mistreatment is rewarded by the clerics of the OCA. Now to me, THAT is Clergy Misconduct but you won’t see these people questioned any time soon.No, we have to misdirect the folks to see that there is a clergy pervert behing every corner. What madness!

            • Nikos, all that may be true, but I thought it was very funny that the Ecumenical Patriarch supposedly still holds that that three-year-old speech against Met. Jonah, yet blessed him to spend time in the Essex monastery. I wonder how Fr. Leonid would explain that.

              Also, Fr. Gerasim Eliel is very likely to be the nominee for the next bishop of the Diocese of the South. That has a lot of Met. Jonah’s haters upset, but I hope that Fr. Gerasim’s serving spotlessly and above reproach since returning to the Church is worth more than ignorantly following a mentor into schism as a 22-year-old novice.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, you touch on some interesting points. I’ve come to disbelieve a lot of what we’ve heard about HB being put on a tight leash, etc. From what I’ve been able to pick up, he’s traveling hither and yon making significant appearances. The most recent one to some Anglicans was very important and I will comment on it next week. Plus as you mentioned, he was blessed by Patriarch Bartholomew to visit St John’s monastery in Essex, England. That was no small thing.

                Is it possible that things are working out behind the scenes that are more positive than I have feared? I certainly hope so.

  5. The real problem is what the seminaries believe their role is – that is, the vision and mission. It would appear that seminaries are frustrated that formation does not take place before seminarians even register, and then lament the fact that so many graduates have such poor, or no, priestly formation at all. Literally, seminaries do not consider themselves in the ‘spiritual formation, business. More’s the pity.

    Fr. Peter is correct – this can be done and be done well. Most of all, it MUST be done. Currently, it is not being done at all, with few exceptions (some seminarians do seek out experienced spiritual fathers and get their formation there, but this is rare).

    St. Gregory the Great’s “Pastoral Rule” contains a great deal of excellent material on pastoral formation, and indeed, it should be mandatory reading by every seminarian or clergyman. It is an exceptionally practical text.

    It is for this reason that I published Humbert of Roman’s “On The Formation Of Preachers,” an excellent digest of Biblical and pastoral formation for the preacher – and absolutely necessary.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      Perhaps St Gregory’s Pastoral Rule would be a good place to start….and it is good reading for all believers. Perhaps our Patristic courses could focus more on the pastoral works (including those in the New Testament). And, perhaps, those courses could encourage discussion, visits from actual pastors who are in the “good fight” and could share stories. While we are at it, why not bring in some of our lay leadership who might be able to present things from the perspective of the men and women whom our pastors are called to serve? Finally, why not refrain from ordaining converts (including those who come to us from the ordained ministries of the denominations) and the recently baptized for at least five years so that they can actually experience the Church as one of the laity?

      • George Michalopulos says

        My only quibble with you Ivan, is your concern about a five-year embargo on ordaining converts. It may seem wise that people acclimate themselves to our ecclesial culture, in fact, it’s a downright good idea, but the necessity of doing so is what bothers me. In some cases, it’s just not necessary.

        Nor is it the problem that we face in American Orthodoxy. I’d say that 98% of the dysfunction that exists is based on our own cradle insecurities and suppositions. About a year ago, I encapsuled this phenomenon under the rubric of The Dumping Ground. This arises from a toxic combination of immigrant poverty, second & third generation niggardly giving, making sure that only losers and sexually immature men are ordained, and that the parish remains committed to Byzantine/Bulgarian/Serbian/etc. nostalgia.

        Truth be told, ordained men in other jurisdictions face the exact same problems that ours do. Seminary training would be ideal (i.e. three years) but I’m more concerned about whether these men are spiritually formed themselves. I know of a few ordained Protestants and Catholics who are very much in tune with the mind of the Church and if they were vested tomorrow, would become excellent Orthodox priests.

        • Ivan Vasiliev says


          I think that any “rule” has to be applied with discretion. Our bishops are free to apply the norms as they see fit within their diocese. I think, though, that all too often converts are ordained too quickly–before they have acclimated to “real life” Orthodoxy (for better or worse). Also, as strange as it may seem, some of the weirder “ethnicism” (whether a yearning for 19th century Russia, the Byzantine Empire, or, a true red-white-and blue 21st century American Orthodoxy) is all too often found among converts who have not been fully “formed” in “lived” Orthodoxy. I should qualify this to include “ethnics” who have been so secularized that, whether they were baptized in the Church or not, are essentially in the same category as new-comers to the Faith.
          Again, we can’t (and as Orthodox we don’t) make hard and fast “rules”. But, clearly, more discretion should be applied when ordaining new comers. All too many spend years “finding themselves” to the great cost of our parishes.

    • M. Stankovich says

      I believe your statement that seminaries do not consider themselves in the “spiritual formation” business is not entirely fair. Anyone who was “schooled” under Dean Schmemann was initiated, re-initiated, enforced, and re-inforced that the chapel was central to the life of seminarians. Before study, before community, before anything that comprised seminary life was the chapel; and twice or three times a day, hearing the “15-minute,” bell, you dropped whatever you were doing, got the cassock, and started for the chapel. Certainly you could do the same thing on your own, but in this case it was a community action, a brotherly action, a pastoral action, and a formative action. I am not suggesting this to be an “elitist” extravagance, but in the hands and “vision” of a dedicated Dean, every bit as essential to the character of the pastor as verbal and written instruction.

      I was telling a friend about being led into a poorly lit room to interview a man handcuffed at waist and feet, with a net bag over his head so he couldn’t spit on me. My friend said, “Whatever prepared you for something like that?” Um, seminary.

      • I hate to say it, but Fr. Schmemann is not running things any more.

        And though it may seem harsh, I assure you, it is a fair assessment.

        • StephenD says

          and very obvious…very obvious indeed.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Point taken, Fr. John. At best, I am only able to speak to my own personal experience, but I am confident of my impression. I did not mean to suggest, however, a “cult of personality.” By “vision” I was suggesting that Fr. Alexander understood the center of seminary education to be in the liturgical life.

          To juxtapose a bit, as Fr. Peter is rightfully suggesting the need for stable monasteries as facilities of mentorship, support, and I presume “respite” for clergy, I recall “back in the day” priests who were “conflicted” – not for issue rising to the level of “misconduct”- were sent by bishops to St. Tikhon’s Monastery to serve at the daily liturgy for weeks or longer at a time. While some may have considered this “punitive,” I am sure the benefits outweighed the “injustice.” It seems to me essential, amidst the concern for psychological screening, field work, practicum, and so on, to not lose sight of the formative rehabilitative, and sustaining forces derived from the seminary chapel.

          • Mr. Stankovich, I hope you’re on some kind of aspirin regimen to prevent heart attacks, because I think you are right here.

          • Amen to that Michael. Amen. And I would also suggest that the cycle of daily worship lived at seminary is a leaven that should be planted in our parishes so that they can move away from being Sunday only venues.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I didn’t realize that STS offered those kind of services for priests who are troubled. If so, then they are to be commended. This raises the need for more monasteries elsewhere in the Lower 48. STS would be ideal for priests living within the Ohio Valley but priests in the Southwest, Far West, Rocky Mountain, etc. would be at a disadvantage.

        • Diogenes says

          Fr. Peck:

          The people in charge at SVS are doing a fine job with formation and vetting; no issues there. The new dean at STOTS is also doing a fine job. Don’t know how Holy Cross is doing and maybe that’s where your “issues” are. In any event, this “scare story” is just that. Sounds like the fabricated rants of the Republicans.

  6. George,

    The OCA lists developing and managing preventative and educational programs as a main feature of the misconduct co-ordinator’s job. I suggest that this shows a comprehensive approach to the issue.


    • Daniel E. Fall says

      So much for the wind in this sail.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Even so, I still maintain that these problems (to the extent that they exist) can best be handled on a local basis. You know, the bishops.

        And let’s not forget, it has not been proven to anybody’s satisfaction that problems of this type are rampant. All we get is a bunch of handwaiving and alarmism –“we’re only one lawsuit away from bankruptcy!” When the reality is that it is Syossett which has pursued lawsuits in the past (against Fr Kondratick) and actually had it blow up in its face.

  7. Miles Honeyson says

    There is much talk here about psychological testing, background checks, spiritual fathers etc. regarding the formation of clergy. While these might be helpful the bigger issue regarding formation of future clergy rests with the candidates themselves.

    Most of the students that are attending seminary today do not have the slightest idea about what it means to be Orthodox and live as an Orthodox Christian.

    Please understand that this is not meant as convert bashing because some of these people that i am speaking of are cradle Orthodox.

    There seems to be a number of converts that have less than two years of experience in the Church; some of which the Chrism is not even dry on their heads that apply and are accepted at Seminary. There is another group that were cradle Orthodox but not raised into the Church that have had a spiritual experience and now after a year or two feel a call to serve the Church. Then there are those who were born in the Church but have been raised in parishes where the priest in charge was not properly formed and come to school with that man’s bagagge.

    My question for the first two groups is, converts and cradle converts, what makes you think you have the background to lead the Church with limited Church and parish experience?

    In the past a young man was raised in the Church, served in the alter as aboy, read the apostol and the prayers in Church and lived the experience of the Church. The parish and the priest had a known quanity on their hand when he was sent to seminary. They knew his nature. This is not to say some didn’t fall through the cracks. In genral the boy was preety much formed before he got to seminary and all he need was for the edges to be taken off.

    Today this is not the case we have people that are coming to the seminaries to convert, to be catachized and as some put it to become Orthodox. I have heard so many seminarians say “I hope some day I will become Orthodox.” Then upon completion of thier studies they have an MDIV that says they meet the professional requirements to serve as a clergyman in the Church. However their hearts and souls have not been prepared adequatly to absorb the Orthodox ethos that they should have had before they ever arrived at seminary. When they are ordained they are not the known quantities that we had in the past. All we really know is that they are members of the Church and that they meet certain educational requirements and that they have a sponsor for the ordination. In many cases we do not know the reality of their lives.

    This is the problem young men are not properly prepared prior to their entrance into seminary. SVS used to have an entrance exam to verify knowledge of the Church and Scripture prior to admitting someone to the school. I do not currently know if they have retained that practice. I know that other schools today do not have that requirement.

    We do need to be more selective about those that we admit to our seminaries by ensuring that they are properly prepared before they ever enter the door of the seminary as a student. I also understand that schools have budget issues and paid tuition helps meet those budgets and that more students means more donations from large givers. However we do this at the cost of our Church.

  8. My son received both his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology (I’ve always chuckled at the how oxymoronic these degree titles are) at SVOTS several years ago. I am grateful that he was able to go to seminary “on his own dime.” He was in the AOANA at the time, and his self support afforded him choice regarding his future. Twice he was asked by his faculty advisor if he wanted to be ordained. Both times he declined. I was disappointed initially when he told me of his refusal because I was looking forward to his being a priest. I can’t remember his exact words, but his explanation to me went something like this:

    “Dad, I’m twenty-four years old, and I’m going to hear confessions and offer spiritual advise to people your age and older? Maybe someday. But if it happens I want it to occur in the context of a parish community who views me as worthy of the calling.”

    My disappointment was immediately overcome by joy at the wisdom that framed his decision.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Brian, given his degree of insight and his humility, he probably could offer a great deal of spiritual advice to people older in years.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Brian, your son should be made a bishop!

  9. Diogenes says

    All this psychology stuff is bunk! Let’s analyze this person or that person; let’s see what makes them tick; let’s see if they have weird fantasies; let’s drain their brains; it’s bunk. When someone attends any school, the peers quickly know who has issues and who doesn’t. They know who would make a good priest and who wouldn’t. And yet, the Holy Spirit acts and those thought to be future failures, turn out to be the best priests and vice-versa. However, peers will also know who has abnormal tendencies and who doesn’t. These things can’t be hidden and psychologists are usually the ones with the most abnormal tendencies.

    • Not so, Diogenes.

      Often abnormal tendencies are NOT known by associates. Too often the cry “we never knew!” when some serious problem is suddenly and embarrassingly exposed – and too late to do anything about it other than lament that an ‘otherwise good man’ wasn’t so good after all.

      Psychological testing is not a psychologist ‘deciding’ who has more problems than him/her.

      The value of psychological testing is simply to assist a bishop, to weed out those candidates who have blatant issues which would make them unfit for sacramental ministry. It is not a guarantor of fitness, nor anything more than one more good and prudent tool for the ordaining bishop.

      And the bishops should have many good tools when forming the future deacon or priest or bishop.

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well, the real Byzantines are more interesting than the ones that some Orthodox have fond feelings about. In fact, I have change my mind on them and learning more think they really were Romans and the world just changed from anicent world to the middle ages world.