What does a seminarian study?
There are four main areas of study and development in preparing for the priesthood: human, spiritual, pastoral (the ability to minister) and intellectual. Spirituality, the study of prayer and the development of one's relationship with God, is covered mostly on an individual basis, with each man meeting with a priest-advisor. Ability to minister is developed in supervised programs. If a man goes to a college seminary, he has the same classes as a regular liberal arts college with the addition of classes on Philosophy, the Church and God. After college, he enters Theology, where his time is spent studying the Bible, the teachings of the Church, and the skills he will need to be a priest.
Is all that education necessary?
It is very important for a priest to have a well-balanced liberal arts education as well as a deep grasp of theology and the spiritual life. Priests must be at least as well educated as the people they serve; otherwise, they will not be respected when they speak of spiritual things. Every soul is precious to God and, therefore, to the priest. A priest is called to help the most educated as well as the least educated to find Jesus and to attain salvation.
Do I have to be an 'A' student?
A seminarian should be an average or above average student. A priest need not be a "brain," but on the other hand a priest must have the ability to pass the courses the seminary requires in order to serve the Catholic community well.
How many years will I be in the seminary?
Generally it takes four years after college or eight years after high school to become a diocesan priest (the same as for many professions). For men entering the seminary who already have a college degree, two years of philosophy (called the “Pre-Theology” program) are usually required before he may enter the theology program.
“The formation of future priests… is considered by the Church to be one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future of the evangelization of humanity.” – Saint Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis
Here are some topics
- The best formation the Church offers!
- Four Pillars of Priestly Formation
- Three Level of seminary
- Installation of Ministries
If I decide to go to the seminary am I committed for life?
In no way. In fact, most vocation directors agree that the only way to really know that you have a vocation to the priesthood is to go to the seminary and try. It will become more and more clear to you once you are in an environment where everyone is trying to discern that same question. Many men go to the seminary, stay a year or two, and then leave. They are much better Catholics afterwards for the experience.
It is very important for a priest both to have a well-balanced liberal arts education as well as a deep grasp of theology and the spiritual life. Priests must be at least as well educated as the people they serve; otherwise, they will not be respected when they speak of spiritual things. Every soul is precious to God and, therefore, to the priest. A priest is called to help the most educated as well as the least educated to find Jesus and to attain salvation.
Can I afford to go to the seminary?
Every vocation is a gift from God, and given the importance and dignity of every vocation that God gives to the Church, every diocese and religious community has in place some policy to address such concerns. No one is turned away from studying for the priesthood or from religious formation for lack of financial resources.
Applying for Seminary
When a man reaches a certain point in his discernment, if he wants to discover if priesthood is his true vocation, he has to go to seminary. It should be stressed that entering seminary is a stage of discernment, not a decision to definitely become priest.
Overview of applying to seminary:
1. Contact the Vocation Director. Discernment always happens with the help of the Church. The diocese needs to get to know you better before offering you a seminary application.
2. The application process. Applying to become a seminarian is a bit like applying to college, but with additional screening components such as background checks and medical and psychological screening.
3. Archbishop’s decision. After a personal interview and a careful review of your file, the archbishop makes the final decision on whether an applicant is accepted.
Many men find the application process to be a healthy exercise in self-knowledge and a helpful part of overall discernment. To take the first steps,
Fr. Timothy Monahan