Levels of Preparation

Prior to a candidate entering major seminary, the Director of Seminarians does a final full assessment of the candidate. Part of this assessment is a review of all of his material by the Seminary Advisory Board and a recommendation to Archbishop Jackels. Archbishop Jackels makes the final decision. A seminarian at this point can be called to candidacy or any time during seminary prior to his diaconate ordination. Once a seminarian is officially accepted by the Archdiocese of Dubuque and enters major seminary, the seminarian celebrates liturgical milestones along the way. A seminarian is officially installed as an acolyte and lector. At the end of his third year or during the beginning of his fourth year, the seminarian is ordained to the diaconate. Finally, celebrating God’s call and the culmination of his formation, a seminarian is called to be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Dubuque by Archbishop Jackels. The entire formation for the priesthood can take from 4 years to 8 years, depending upon the state in life of the candidate when he begins. For more information on any of the following, click on the following drop-downs:

 

Candidacy

The rite of admission to candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests is celebrated when there is clear evidence that the aspirants’ properly formed intention has sufficiently matured. The aspirants must make a public expression of the intention to receive holy orders. The bishop, in turn, or the major superior of a clerical religious institute, gives the public acceptance of this intention.

The understanding of being admitted as a candidate can be best understood by the suggested homily the Rite for the Admission to Candidacy provides (39-40).

The homily is as follows:

Dear brethren in Christ, our brothers stand here today in the presence of the Church, recommended to us and to you for admission among the candidates for holy orders.

Christ gave this command: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.” Our brothers know the Lord’s concern for his flock, they see the needs of the Church, and they feel ready to respond generously to the Lord in the words of the prophet: “Here I am, send me forth.” They put their hope in the Lord, trusting that they may answer his call faithfully.

This call from the Lord should be recognized and understood from the daily signs which reveal God’s will to men of discernment. When God chooses men to share in the ordained priesthood of Christ, he moves and helps them by his grace. At the same time, he entrusts us with the task of calling suitable and approved candidates and of consecrating them by a special seal of the Holy Spirit to the ministry of God and of the Church. By the sacrament of holy orders they will be appointed to share in the ministry of salvation that Christ accomplished in the world. When the time comes, they will be given a part in our ministry of service to the Church, and build up by word and sacrament the Christian communities to which they will be sent.

Our brothers here have already begun their preparation so that later they may be called to ordination by the bishop. Day by day they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope, and love. In the practice of these virtues they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.

Urged on by his love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they have come here to declare in public their desire to bind themselves to the service of God and of mankind.

When each one is called by name, he should come forward and declare his intention before the Church assembled here.

 


 

Installation as Acolyte

Prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) multiple levels of “orders” were included in the preparation for the priesthood. After assessing the normative directions of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI laid out the following directive: “Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of reader (lector) and acolyte” (Apostolic Letter: Issued MOTU PROPRIO by which the Discipline of First Tonsure, Minor Orders, and Subdiaconate in the Latin Church is Reformed, 4).

The understanding of being installed as an acolyte can be best understood by the suggested homily the Rite for the Institution of Acolyte provides (15-16).

The homily is as follows:

Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. The summit and source of the Church’s life is the eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. It is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give holy communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick. Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ.

In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his apostles at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I also have loved you.”

 


 

Installation as Lector

Prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) multiple levels of “orders” were included in the preparation for the priesthood. After assessing the normative directions of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI laid out the following directive: “Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of reader (lector) and acolyte” (Apostolic Letter: Issued MOTU PROPRIO by which the Discipline of First Tonsure, Minor Orders, and Subdiaconate in the Latin Church is Reformed, 4).

The understanding of being installed as a lector can be best understood by the suggested homily the Rite for the Institution of Readers provides (12-13).

The homily is as follows:

Dear sons in Christ, through his Son, who became man for us, God the Father has revealed the mystery of salvation and brought it to fulfillment. Jesus Christ made all things known to us and then entrusted his Church with the mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world.

As readers and bearers of God’s word, you will assist in this mission, and so take on a special office within the Christian community; you will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God. You will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it. Thus with your help men and women will come to know God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent, and so be able to reach eternal life.

In proclaiming God’s word to others, accept it yourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Meditate on it constantly, so that each day you will have a deeper love of the Scriptures, and in all you say and do show forth to the world our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 


 

Ordination of Deacons

Deacons are ordained by the laying on of hands, a tradition handed down from the Apostles, so that through sacramental grace they may effectively fulfill their ministry. Therefore, even from early Apostolic times, the Catholic Church has held the holy Order of the Diaconate in high honor.

“Insofar as competent authority assigns them, it pertains to the deacon: to administer Baptism solemnly; to protect and distribute the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, bring Viaticum to the dying; read the Sacred Scriptures to the faithful, instruct and exhort the people; preside over the prayer and worship of the faithful, administer sacramentals, and officiate at funeral and burial rites. Dedicated to duties of charity and administration, deacons should be mindful of the admonition of Saint Polycarp: ‘Be merciful and zealous, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who made himself the minister of all.’”

The understanding of being ordained a deacon can be best understood by the suggested homily in the Rite of Ordination of Deacons (199).

Beloved brothers and sisters: since these our sons who are your relatives and friends are now to be advanced to the Order of Deacons, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

Strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will help the Bishop and his priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity, showing themselves to be servants to all. As ministers of the altar, they will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and distribute the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful.

Furthermore, it will be their duty, at the Bishop’s direction, to exhort believers and unbelievers alike and to instruct them in holy doctrine. They will preside over public prayer, administer Baptism, assist at and bless Marriages, bring Viaticum to the dying, and conduct funeral rites.

Consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes down to us from the Apostles and bound more closely to the service of the altar, they will perform works of charity in the name of the Bishop or the pastor. With the help of God, they are to go about all these duties in such a way that you will recognize them as disciples of him who came not to be served, but to serve.

Now, dear sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Diaconate. The Lord has set an example that just as he himself has done, you also should do.

As deacons, that is, as ministers of Jesus Christ, who came among his disciples as one who served, do the will of God from the heart: serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord. Since no one can serve two masters, look upon all defilement and avarice as serving false gods.

Since, by your own free choice, you present yourselves for the Order of the Diaconate, you should be men of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, as were those once chosen by the Apostles for the ministry of charity.

You will exercise your ministry committed to the celibate state: know that celibacy is both a sign of pastoral charity and an inspiration to it, as well as a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. Compelled by the sincere love of Christ the Lord and embracing this state with total dedication, you will cling to Christ more easily with an undivided heart. You will free yourselves more completely for the service of God and man, and minister more effectively in the work of spiritual rebirth.

Firmly rooted and grounded in faith, you are to show yourselves chaste and beyond reproach before God and man, as is proper for the ministers of Christ and of the stewards of God’s mysteries. Never allow yourselves to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel. Now you are not only hearers of this Gospel but also its ministers. Holding the mystery of faith with a clear conscience, express by your actions the word of God which your lips proclaim, so that the Christian people, brought to life by the Spirit, may be a pure offering accepted by God. Then on the last day, when you go out to meet the Lord you will be able to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

 


 

Ordination of Priests

By sacred Ordination a sacrament is conferred on priests through which, “by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, they are signed with a special character and are so configured to Christ the Priest that they have the power to act in the person of Christ the Head.”

Priests, therefore, take part in the Bishop’s priesthood and mission. As virtuous co-workers with the Episcopal Order, called to serve the people of God, they constitute one presbyterate in union with their Bishop, while being charged with different duties.

Partakers of the office of Christ, the sole Mediator (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5), at their own grade of ministry they announce the divine word to all. In fact, they exercise their sacred office above all in the Eucharistic synaxis (Eucharistic assembly). For the repentant and the sick among the faithful they exercise, most especially, the ministry of reconciliation and comfort, and they present the needs and the prayers of the faithful to God the Father (cf. Hebrews 5:1-4). Exercising the office of Christ as Shepherd and Head according to their share of authority, they gather together God’s family as a fellowship all of one mind and soul, and lead them through Christ, in the Spirit, to God the Father. In the midst of the flock they adore him in spirit and in truth (cf. John 4:24). Finally they labor in preaching and teaching (cf. 1Timothy 5:17), believing what they have read while meditating on the law of the Lord, teaching what they have believed, and putting into practice what they have taught.”

The understanding of being ordained a priest can be best understood by the suggested homily in the Rite of Ordination of Priests (123).

Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised. It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.

In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, dear sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.

Remember, when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.