Bringing the laity closer to decision-making is a goal of the global church and is something the Diocese of Wilmington has focused on in various ways for some time.
The diocesan Vocations Admissions Board strives to keep an emphasis on that.
The new board has been formed as part of the process for would-be seminarians applying to be part of the process toward ordination, said Father Norman Carroll, director of vocations for the diocese.
Members of the laity have been invited to join the board, along with priests who will rotate in one seat on the board as candidates are considered.
“It goes along with the church’s effort to be more transparent,” Father Carroll said.
The new members have varied backgrounds and experience in dealing with people.
They are Michael Hare, executive vice president of Buccini/Pollin Group; Judy White, principal of St. Anthony of Padua elementary school; Father Paul Williams, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Wilmington; Sister Ann David Strohminger, diocesan delegate for religious; Michael Connelly, diocesan director of safe environments, and Kelly Donahue, secretary and director of the human resources office for the diocese. Also rotating in a seat on the board are Msgr. John Hopkins, pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Church; Father Glenn Evers, associate moderator of the diocesan curia, and Father Carlos Ochoa, diocese coordinator of Hispanic ministry.
A vocations board in the diocese was previously populated by priests.
Father Carroll said board members will see all records, interview candidates and will be part of the process in recommending a person for formation. He said the Vocations Office developed the initiative with the support of Bishop Malooly.
“These are people who have experience in dealing with people,” he said. “They may have different reads and perspectives on people. It’s appreciating the gifts the laity brings.”
Father Carroll has confidence that this will strengthen the process of accepting a person to vocations.
“We still believe God does the calling,” he said, but he believes the process of bringing in candidates helps “put the right people on our team.”
“We are pretty confident at this point (in the process), but there might be some things (board members) pick up on.”
He says the process of forming potential priests is significant.
“In no other profession do you get to know yourself as you do in the seminary,” Father Carroll said.
The diocese had 11 seminarians in formation this past year and is hosting a Mass for Vocations on June 15, 11 a.m., at Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington.