Ordination / Rites of Initiation:

A Unique Vision and Process for Sacred Work in the World

Wisdom University is pleased to announce a unique and transformative Ordination/Rites of Initiation program which began in June 2005.

The University is breaking new ground in the meaning and scope of ordination and is re-interpreting the ancient notion of rites of passage in a twenty first century context.
Traditionally, ordination has been limited to people who studied with a particular denomination such as the Methodists, the Catholics or the Episcopalians, and then became ministers in those traditions. For those who do not wish to join those traditions, there has been no other process for becoming ordained. However, there are many who believe that their work, as an artist, an engineer or a business executive, is sacred work and wish to be ordained, not in a church but in a way of life.

Wisdom University now offers a broadened vision and opportunity for ordination/rite of initiation that carries all the same rights and responsibilities to conduct marriages, funerals, etc., that traditional ordination offers. We offer this new program in deep understanding and belief that participating in rites of initiation and community rituals is one of the deepest and most ancient of human yearnings.


Throughout human history, communities of people have gathered to appoint and empower particular individuals to perform specialized religious and spiritual tasks and functions for those communities. These ceremonies of consecration and investiture have always been carried out in the name of the Divine as it is understood in those communities.

These ordination rituals have always involved simultaneous and multiple levels of meaning woven into participatory rites and celebrations. On the one hand, these liturgies authorize and empower the individuals being ordained to perform specific spiritual tasks and take on particular spiritual leadership roles for the people of the community. And on the other hand, the ordination ceremonies and rituals of empowerment also establish and make more conscious a set of reciprocal responsibilities that the ordaining community has to newly sanctified spiritual practitioners, as well as to the newly shouldered and continuing responsibilities that the ordained now has to the endorsing body of faith and tradition.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the undeniable necessity has arisen for such empowering, sanctifying, proclaiming ordination rituals to serve the needs of increasing numbers of people who may be unchurched, but who are also deeply called to spiritual leadership and service, as well as those who are well and truly churched, but whose evolving spiritual lives have led them into post-denominational, post-sectarian cultural settings, and most particularly, those people and communities whose longing for meaningful spiritual leadership and affirming religious experience are increasingly not being met by other contemporary sectarian denominational practices, programs, and services.

The wisdom tradition, with its deep historical and philosophical roots extending into virtually all denominational religious and spiritual traditions, as well as into the communitarian, nature-based religious and spiritual traditions of native and aboriginal peoples around the planet, has evolved to a point where it now requires such rituals to honor and authorize trained and skilled community leaders to go forth and perform in the larger society as fully commissioned and licensed spiritual practitioners, alongside practitioners of other specific faith traditions.
In order to meet this need, Wisdom University offers a ceremonial setting for individuals to consciously seek and accept ordination for professional religious and spiritual work in the world in the Wisdom tradition.


Wisdom University provides the training for ordination/rite of initiation. The University does not ordain. This is done by a non profit organization affiliated with Wisdom University called the Community of Holy Wisdom, a non denominational 501c3 which is registered in the State of California and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

In order to become ordained in the Community of Holy Wisdom, there are certain general requirements that all students must meet. Through written work and class participation during the Ordination/Rite of Initiation Intensives, students must demonstrate:

1. Knowledge of the sacred writings, rituals and mystics of the tradition out of which they come as well as the sacred writings, rituals and mystics of at least one other spiritual tradition.
2. Capability to articulate how the sacred can be expressed through their current work in the world and how they have come to a sense of inner discernment about the meaning for them of ordination/initiation in the Wisdom Tradition.

3. Ability to speak in the prophetic voice and articulate the principals of their wisdom tradition before their community.

4. Understanding of the principles that support a healing encounter and ability to participate in a healing encounter with sensitivity and compassion.

5. Capacity to develop and lead a ritual experience.

6. Competence to facilitate community circles and lead visioning sessions for their community.

7. Respect and ability to dialogue with adherents of other pathways and other forms of ordination and rites of initiation.

I. Are you feeling called to be ordained in your profession?

Are you feeling called to an ordination/rite of initiation and do you want to be affirmed in the Holy Work that you are doing in the world? Are you an attorney, an art/music therapist, an educator, in a health profession, an engineer, or a CEO? And do you feel that you are doing sacred work and would like support, direction and encouragement in affirming this? If so, you can receive ordination for the work that you believe is your sacred task in the world.

This option requires that you have completed the Doctor of Ministry Degree at Wisdom University or the equivalent. Ordination includes a five-day Intensive followed by six months of spiritual companioning. During the six months, you will create a Ministry Manual that is specific to your Holy Work in the world. After successful completion of a second five-day Intensive you will participate in a service of ordination/initiation.

II. Interested in becoming an Interfaith Minister?

Are you interested in specifically becoming an Interfaith minister? If so, Wisdom University grants credit for Independent Study from the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministries. This arrangement allows you to complete the Doctor of Ministry Degree with the option for Ordination as a Professional Interfaith Minister through the Chaplaincy Institute.

Students participating in this option are able to do the two programs in less time and at lower cost.

III. Interested in studying at Wisdom University and then being ordained in a particular religious tradition?

Are you comfortable within a traditional religious denomination and want to both study at Wisdom University and still be ordained in your tradition? It is possible for you to take courses at Wisdom University and be ordained in the traditional way appropriate to your tradition, provided this can be worked out with the authorities of your tradition. This is already taking place in collaboration with the Independent Catholic Church International, for example, and can be available to other religious bodies as well. Coursework taken at the Wisdom University is recognized and endorsed as partial fulfillment of the requirements of ordination by some Religious Denominations.

For information about this opportunity, please contact Carol Vaccariello, Director of Academic Programs, Wisdom University at 415-561-2348 or by email at: .



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