He makes Jesus visible in a world struggling to see Him and encounter Him. He does this by teaching the Truth of the Gospel in Love because He has allowed himself to be molded into and conformed to Jesus Christ the priest. First the priest prays; He is a beloved son always uniting himself and those he serves to his Father in heaven. Secondly he teaches- children, young adults, parents, elderly, etc. and he does this most importantly in the homily at mass. Thirdly he brings the grace people need to be holy in their present stage in life through the sacraments. And fourthly he serves by governing those entrusted to his care: administrative tasks, being a steward of the faithful’s resources, maintaining a space to worship the Lord.
Candidates for the priesthood undergo 5 – 8 years of rigorous training, education, and formation. In seminary, candidates are given the tools they will need to perform the work of care for souls. Every seminarian earns at least a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a 4-year Master’s in Theology. In addition, seminarians are trained in pastoral care and liturgy, mentored in their spiritual growth, and together they experience the many blessings and challenges of communal life with their brother seminarians. Seminary is challenging, but rewarding.
In the Gospels, we learn that Jesus called twelve of his disciples to a special role in his Church. Those disciples are called Apostles. The Apostles are the shepherds of Christ’s Church. They baptize, teach, preach, heal, and forgive sins by the authority of Jesus Christ. After Christ’s Ascension into heaven, the Apostles appointed and ordained, by the laying on of hands, Matthias, Paul, and others to take the place of Judas Iscariot and those who were martyred, like James. Today we call these apostles, “Bishops.” The Apostles then appointed and ordained, by the laying on of hands, certain disciples to assist the Apostles in their work of shepherding the Church—the priests and deacons. By this means, the shepherds of the Church pass down their authority from Christ, even until today. The Apostles today follow the example of Christ, ordaining men to shepherd the Church who will live exemplary lives of service to God and his people, dedicating himself entirely to the work of care for souls. Therefore, the basic qualifications of candidates for seminary are: an unmarried man, willing and able to lead others to Christ by his example, teaching, and obedience to Christ and His Church.
Speaking precisely, a man can only know for certain when he is ordained! However, there are many signs that can point to a vocation, and lead a man to continue on toward seminary and the path to priesthood.
Particular signs can be:
- I feel called to give more of myself to Jesus
- People tell me that I would be a good priest
- A sense that my plans for the future are not the plans that God has for me
- A burning desire to bring people to Jesus
- I hide reading material about the priesthood under my bed or in my desk
- Going to Mass and Adoration is very important to me
Many seminarians are not certain of the call to priesthood. Seminary is a chance to actively discern, as well as grow in your spiritual life and knowledge of the Christian faith. Seminary is also a chance for the people of God to discern you, whether you are the one called to lead the faithful in their journey toward life in heaven.
As a seminarian, you will be asked to be totally present in the moment. There can be no half-hearted attempts to discern and grow and follow Christ. God willing, and only if you freely accept, at the end of your studies you will be ordained a priest, committing yourself by promising lifelong service to God and his Church. Before that time, if it becomes clear to you as a seminarian that God is calling you elsewhere, then you are encouraged to leave seminary to pursue your vocation.
The next thing to do is to send us a message or give us a call to let us know you’re thinking about it. We have lots of resources to help you in your discernment. The Vocations Director will be in contact with you and will help you get a better idea of how to proceed.
The seminary is for men who are already disciples of Christ seeking to be one of His apostles. You are learning to live as His priest and acting as He does. The seminary is where men study and train for the priesthood. There, they are taught the theology, philosophy and pastoral skills needed to fulfill this vocation. In addition, seminarians are formed in their faith through communal prayer, and spiritual direction. Saint Pope John Paul II described seminary formation as “a continuation in the Church of the apostolic community gathered about Jesus, listening to his word, proceeding towards the Easter experience, awaiting the gift of the Spirit for the mission.”