The Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP)

Your vocation will be discerned at the local level to begin with – in your parish and diocese. When those in your diocese discerning your vocation consider the time to be right they will advise your bishop to sponsor you for a Bishops’ Advisory Panel. Panels are held throughout the year and are arranged by the Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council acting on behalf of the diocesan bishops. The minimum age for sponsorship is 18. Panels normally last from Monday to Wednesday, and you will be expected to be resident for the full time. At a panel you are likely to meet a wide range of men and women who are offering for ordained ministry. There will be a maximum of 16 candidates and a total of 6 Bishops’ Advisers. Also present will be a Bishops’ Advisory Panel Secretary from the Ministry Division. The Bishops’ Advisers, drawn from all over the country, and from a wide variety of walks of life, are appointed by their diocesan bishops and are trained by the Ministry Division.

Before the Panel
Some time before the panel you will be asked to fill in a detailed registration form and to provide the names of referees. You will also be asked to produce a Written Reflection of between 500 and 750 words about an aspect of Mission and Evangelism (Criterion H) that is related to your experience and to which you feel drawn as part of your calling. Your Diocesan Director of Ordinands will send all your paperwork to the Ministry Division, which in turn will send a detailed explanation of what to expect. Several months normally elapse between being sponsored by your diocese and the panel itself.

At the Bishops’ Advisory Panel
As the whole aim of the panel is to discover God’s will for you and the other candidates, the times set aside for prayer and worship are central to the panel. At the panel you will experience:

  • three interviews with Bishops’ Advisers which will focus on the Criteria for Selection;
  • practical exercises to assess your presentation, discussion and facilitation skills within a group context;
  • a personal inventory in which you will be asked to respond in writing to a series of questions based on the Criteria for Selection;
  • a pastoral exercise in which you will be asked to respond in writing to a complex pastoral situation.

All these will help the Bishops’ Advisers to get to know you as a person and show them the ways in which you meet the Criteria for Selection.

After the Bishops’ Advisory Panel
When the panel is over the Bishops’ Advisers send their recommendation for each
candidate to the sponsoring bishop. This recommendation is advice to your bishop
with whom the decision about your future rests. The advice of the Bishops’ Advisers
will take one of the following three forms:

  • Recommended for training: The way is open for you to embark upon training. You must enter training within three years of your panel.
  • Conditionally recommended for training: This means that your recommendation is dependent upon certain conditions being fulfilled. It may mean that the Ministry Division has not yet received all your paperwork or it may be that you have not yet fully met one or two of the Criteria for Selection and need to do some work on them before you are ready to enter training.
  • Not recommended for training: The reasons for your not being recommended for training will be given. It is important to emphasize that this is not a denial of your vocation to Christian service and witness, but rather a call to fulfil it in ways other than ordained ministry. Your Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations Advisers will help you to explore other ways of responding to your calling to serve God.

On receiving the recommendation from the Bishops’ Advisers your bishop will write
or speak with you in order to inform you of his decision and ask you to be in touch
with your Diocesan Director of Ordinands.