Becoming a member: Initial discernment process
Applicants engage in a discernment period of at least 5 months. The first taking of the Promise takes place at the first common life gathering after that discernment period. At that time the new member is “clothed” in the cassock of the Order.[i] The three years after this are a formation period.
Beginning the process
Application to begin the discernment period is made by submitting a statement on why you want to begin discernment and are interested in the Order. You are also asked to have three people recommend you stating why they think you may be called to this community and its work. All of this is done by e-mail. We assume the applicant and recommenders will have reviewed the OA web site. The applicant should also send a recent resume. The Order assigns a Professed Member to work with the aspirant.
There may be further exchanges of e-mail or phone conversations. The member appointed by the Order will make a decision and inform the aspirant. The decision may be to begin the discernment process, to continue aspirant conversations, or to inform the person that the Order doesn't want to move forward with the application.
Please read Stages of Membership
Begin the discernment process with prayer. You may want to arrange to participate in a weekday mass or office at which the congregation joins you in prayer as you begin the process. Or you may decide to simply begin with making it as a mental offering at the offertory at the Sunday Eucharist.
During the discernment process they
- Reflect on the Rule of the Order of the Ascension - PDF of the Rule
- Reflect on the Rule of Saint Benedict – link
- Read and reflect on Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Esther de Waal
- Begin living with the Rule – Take note of the Formation section of this web site, especially the PDF OA Formation Process: Action Plan with its guidance on living with the Rule and shaping your spiritual discipline
- Develop an understanding of the relation between the Promise and their life
- Engage in a process of reflection on the effect of joining the Order -- Areas for your reflection
- Have a least two long conversations with a sponsor from among the members about the Rule, the Promise and other matters related to formation[ii]
- Review the three-year formation process that begins after the first taking of the Promise. Create a draft of your formation plan based on the standard plan provided (we assume it will change). OA Formation Process: Action Plan - this is the standard action plan for the new member's formation
- Take several instruments and read related material– TKI, MBTI, FIRO B. A member trained in administering the instruments will have a follow up conversation.
Cost: The Order provides the sponsor for the conversations, most of the resources for discernment, and the person certified to administer and debrief the instruments work. The applicant needs to cover cost of books, instruments (and the related reports and booklets).[iii] The instrumentation is used as part of incorporation process in advance of and during first retreat. The instruments are not used to determine suitability for membership. They are used to assist the person: 1) consider their personality and temperament in relation to spiritual practices and their role in parish development work and 2) explore the dynamics of the Order.
The booklets related to the instruments to be purchased and read are:
Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using the TKI, Kenneth W.Thomas, CPP
They are available from Consulting Psychologists Press They should be read after taking the instrument.
Membership is open to laity, bishops, priests and deacons; to baptized people of any Christian communion.
Applicants are admitted to the Order by a majority vote of all Professed Members
In the three years after first taking the Promise the person is in the formation process as a novice member (nOA). This includes receiving a significant amount of training in parish development.[iv] The training must be consistent with the charism of the Order. That training is built into the formation program. Please see the pages on Formation.
Our hope is that by the time a member takes the Promise a second time with its life-long intention, they will be among the best-trained people in the church in the field of parish development.
Members are dropped from membership if they miss two common life gatherings in a three year period and may be removed for other reasons by a vote of two-thirds of professed members.
For information on OA or to apply to begin the discernment period-- E-mail Michelle Heyne, OA
[i] The applicant needs to order the OA cassock at least three months before the common life gathering. The cost is roughly $280.
[ii] The sponsor or the applicant may request additional conversations.
[iii] Est cost: $120.00. Once the applicant has joined the discernment process we arrange for the taking of the instruments on line.
[iv] Training costs are paid by the person in formation.