In my last post, I gave a run through of what to expect at a Provincial Discernment Panel (or BAP / Bishop’s Advisory Panel / Provincial Selection Conference / blah blah blah). In this particular post, I’m going to give some basic pointers for you to hopefully give you an idea of things, to ease you, and to better prepare you for your selection. So without further a do, here goes:
- Realise that you will be apprehensive – it’s natural. It’s a big deal, and it is going to change your life.
- Realise that you and the other candidates are in the same boat.
- Do not alienate yourself from the others – get to know them, and make friends with them.
- Do know that this is not a competition! You may all be recommended for training, or similarly, none of you may be recommended. There isn’t a quota to fill.
- Be open to learning new things about yourself and others.
- Never discourage anyone or express feelings that someone should or shouldn’t be recommended for training.
- Don’t talk about your interviews with anyone else. It won’t be fair or helpful to you or to them. All interviews will be different. At my conference, we did slip up a couple of times, and I don’t think any of us benefitted from it!
- Do find a local pub and go there are the end of the day. It’s a great way to unwind after an intense day of group discussion, writing and interviews.
- Do inform people that you’re going to a Provincial Discernment Panel. Send letters or emails with specific prayer points for them to pray through.
- Do take some comfort items for the journey and also for the stay (such as favourite drink/food, book etc)
- Do, if you can, travel up a day before the conference, and find somewhere local to stay for a day after the conference if you have to drive far. You’ll be extremely tired after the conference, and you’ll want to be calm and collected before the conference.
- Do get to know the selectors – they’re interesting people and are normal!
- If you feel that you were misunderstood in an interview or something didn’t come our quite right, then do go and see your interviewing selector and talk about it. They will expect people to do this, and it’s better to clarify things rather than leave ambiguity with the selector. I did this on one occasion and found it extremely helpful.
- Do re-read through all your paper work (like reflections and essays that you’ve written) as well as re-reading the most important books that you’ve read on priesthood, ordination and vocation.
- Take a notepad and plenty of pens! Also take your laptop if you have one (but you may have to write out your written project, rather than type).
- Do keep in touch with your close family at the time (it’s important to call them regularly! They’ll want to know how you’re doing.)
- When you go home, do not keep going on about the conference – do be wary that your family/spouse/whoever has been living life too whilst you’ve been away and so they will have things to tell you!
- Do know that all the conference purpose is is to see whether the paper version of you (what the selectors have read about you – and there will be a lot of reading!) matches the physical, actual you when they meet you. That’s all it is, but, granted, doesn’t feel like it at the time!
- Do know that God is faithful and will be with you throughout the entire time.
- Do use the worship selfishly – by that, realise that the worship is there for you to be spiritually nourished. Take advantage of that.
- Do enjoy the conference! It seems crazy to say, I know. However, I personally found that whilst being apprehensive at the start of the conference, I had actually enjoyed it by the end despite its intensity. In fact, it’s quite hard to describe how I felt, but you’ll know the feeling once you’ve been through it!
- Know that you will survive!
- Do be yourself. You cannot pretend. It’s not fair on you or anyone else, and above all, the selectors will see through it.
After the conference is over, the wait will begin. The panel will meet straight after you leave to discuss each candidate, and a decision (recommendation / recommendation with conditions / non recommendation) will be made on that day. What takes time is that the Secretary has to compile all the reports and write them up then send them to the Bishops. Then, the Bishop may be busy and so your report may wait. It took over two weeks for me to hear, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait a long time. a couple of things for dealing with post-conference:
- Let people know that it’s over and remind them to continue praying for you
- Pray yourself
- Make yourself busy – I went on holiday. It was a very good decision if I say so myself!
- Realise that what is done is done. You cannot change things now and you have to give everything to God.
As I drove to my grandparents house after the conference (who don’t live far from where the conference was held), I said to God “I don’t know what I’m going to do if I’m not selected, God. It’s in your hands”. And that was that. Thankfully, God was very kind and gracious and didn’t allow me to become too frustrated or worried or anxious about hearing the news.
The news will be given to you usually by phone or by the Bishop seeing you in person. Very rarely, the news is given as a letter.
I had a phone call from the Bishop whilst I was on holiday to say that I had been recommended for training. I was so happy and relieved to hear that. Of course, not everyone gets a recommendation. It isn’t the end of the world if you’re not recommended (even though it will feel like it, I’m sure). The fact that you got to this point is a clear indication that there is a calling to ministry on you, but it may just need a bit more work, or maybe you need to look at a different sort of ministry (but these are to be discussed with your DDO after you hear the news). And of course, you can always go back to a panel again.
I hope this has given you a bit of an insight into the ins and outs of the selection conference! If there’s any other comments or questions you have, do use the comments below to share them. Similarly, if you’ve been to a Selection Conference or BAP or whatever, do share your tips and advice too! My next post on this particular area is probably going to be about my meeting with my DDO to discuss my report and the next steps in terms of training… exciting!