Aspirants are required to read this guide in full and should share this information with their presenting priests. Included in this guide

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Aspirants are required to read this guide in full and should share this information 

with their presenting priests. Included in this guide:  



Scheduling and Deadlines 



Submitting: Who and How 






Role of the Contact Person 



Applying to Seminaries (Priesthood Track) 



Presenting Priest Letter Guidelines 


Aspirants should begin applying for postulancy at the end of the formal discernment process, with the 

recommendation of their presenting priest. It may be appropriate for seekers to begin writing their Personal 

History and Reflections (PHR) during discernment, as the PHR needs to be written 4+ months before the 

postulancy interview. However, it is imperative that discernment is not rushed in order to make postulancy 

application deadlines.  

Please note that the canon’s office must be in possession of the entire application at least four weeks in 

advance of the interviews. This includes psychological and marital evaluations.  

Timing the psych and marital evals: Aspirants are asked to provide a copy of the PHR (item #2) to the 

psychological and marital evaluators in advance of an appointment. Psych and marital evals can take 60 days 

to complete.  

Path to the Postulancy Interview 


4+ months before interview: Write Personal History and Reflections, which must be submitted to 

psych eval clinic prior to evaluation. It takes most working adults several months to complete the 



3+ months before interview: Begin psych/martial eval process, as it can take up to 60 days.  


1+ month before interview: Entire application due. 



Send to: All documents should be sent to Vicky Bickel (




Email attachments are preferred in all instances save the college transcripts and medical 

evaluation, which should be sent to the diocesan offices directly: The Episcopal Diocese of 

Virginia, 110 West Franklin St. Richmond, VA 23220.  


Piecemeal or All-at-Once: With the exception of #1 (below), documents can be submitted as each 

piece is ready, or all together as one application.  


Please send regular updates via email to 

Vicky Bickel

 to let her know when to expect the 

application, due four weeks before the interview. The aspirant may also want to CC their committee 

contact and 

Ed Keithly



Copies: Aspirants must keep copies of all documents in their own file.  



All forms and instructions can be found 


 (priesthood) or 


 (diaconate), except for the list of 

approved psychological evaluation clinics. Contact 

Vicky Bickel

 with any questions.  



Initial Application to Commission on Ministry 


Please send a copy of this application to the canon’s office at the beginning of the 

application process.  



Personal History and Reflections (PHR):  


Length: this should not exceed 25 pages, single spaced. Aspirants should direct questions 

about the content and length to their committee contact.   


Timing: Should be completed before psychological evaluation and initial meeting with 

contact person. The aspirant can/should schedule a date to meet with the clinic and 

contact person (separately) before the writing is complete. How long an aspirant takes to 

write the PHR depends on the time they can devote to it, but most find this takes a few 

months to write. 


Contact review: The aspirant’s committee contact will provide feedback on the PHR before 

the aspirant submits the PHR to 

Vicky Bickel

. All other pieces of the application can go 

directly to Vicky.  



Copy of the completed psychological examination and an evaluative letter 



Vicky Bickel

 for a list of approved clinics. This list cannot be found online.  


The cost of the psych and marital evaluations varies from about $600-1000, depending 

on whether a marital evaluation is required. The aspirant should request his/her own 

cost estimate from the eval clinic. See note on timing of psych eval and PHR above.  



Copy of marital evaluation, if applicable  


Using same clinic as psychological evaluation. 


Engaged or partnered applicants should also receive a marital evaluation. 



Copy of the Oxford background check 


Following online instructions. We recommend initiating this background check as soon 

as the committee contact is assigned.  



Copy of the completed medical examination 


Using online form. The aspirant may go to any physician they like.  



Official transcripts: All undergraduate and post-graduate transcripts, not high school. 



Copy of resume 



A letter of support from the applicant’s presenting priest 


Guidelines for this letter below. The aspirant should request a copy for his/her records. 

The letter can be addressed to Bp. Johnston and sent to 

Vicky Bickel




Letter of support from the applicant’s congregation or other community of faith 


Using the online form letter, committing the church to pledge to contribute financially to 

the applicant’s preparation and involve itself in the applicant’s preparation for ordination. 


We recommend that the Vestry consider/sign this letter at their meeting 2-3 months 

before the postulancy interview.  



Recent photograph, JPEG or PNG file.  



Evidence of Baptism: E.g., copy of Baptismal certificate or parish register. 



Copy of Confirmation Certificate or other evidence of confirmation in the Episcopal Church. 






Review PHR: The committee contact will review the aspirant’s PHR and offer feedback before it is 

submitted—aspirants should send the contact person a copy before the first meeting. However, the 

aspirant and presenting priest should reach out to the contact person once assigned to find a time to 

meet after the PHR is complete.  



Confirm Interview: An aspirant’s contact person to the Committee on Priesthood or Committee 

on the Diaconate must confirm that the aspirant is ready to interview for postulancy. Applicants 

should be in regular contact with their contact person. 



Shepherd the Aspirant: The contact will get to know the aspirant, answer questions, and offer 

guidance. While the contact reviews the PHR, aspirants should send updates and questions on the 

other pieces of the application to Vicky Bickel or Ed Keithly. The aspirant, not the committee 

contact, is responsible for providing updates to the diocesan office.  


Aspirants should be aware of seminary application deadlines and apply when appropriate in order to avoid 

being delayed for a year or lose out on scholarship/grant money—aspirants expecting to interview for 

postulancy in March should be especially sensitive to this. Aspirants should not begin seminary during 

discernment or aspirancy, but it is appropriate to apply for seminary before interviewing with the 

Committee on Priesthood and/or the Bishop.  

An aspirant may not commit to a seminary before having a conversation with the canon’s office and/or the 

bishop about where he/she will attend. 

In general, aspirants who will interview for priesthood in the fall should wait until they are accepted as 

postulants before applying to seminary, but those applying for postulancy in March should apply to 

seminary and for postulancy concurrently. Examples:  


An aspirant interviewing with the Committee on Priesthood in March 2017 and hoping to begin 

seminary in fall 2017 should apply to seminary concurrently with her postulancy application. 


An aspirant interviewing with the Committee on Priesthood in November 2017 and hoping to begin 

seminary in fall 2018 can typically wait until she is accepted as a postulant to apply for seminary. 


What might go in the recommendation letter from the presenting priest:  


Aspirant’s place in the church community now, what ministries she/he takes part in. 


What the priest sees as the aspirant’s gifts and how the aspirant is suited to the priesthood or the 



What type(s) of ministry the priest could see the aspirant doing if ordained. 


Hardships the aspirant experienced (e.g., divorce, trauma) and how the aspirant responded to the 




The priest doesn’t necessarily need to probe the aspirant to find out about these things, but 

if the priest has been a pastoral presence during times of famine, the letter is a good place to 

talk about how the aspirant dealt with those things. 


Anything that makes the aspirant’s journey unique. 


Growing edges of the aspirant. The assumption is that the presenting priest is fully supportive of the 

aspirant. If there is ambivalence, the presenting priest should name that and discuss why she/he and 

the parish are putting the aspirant forward for postulancy. 

 Typically letters are about a 1-1.5 pages single-spaced.


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