Becoming a Priest in a Diocese


Hi. I am currently a senior in high school and I know I have more than enough time before I make a decision to become a priest. I have a question. Can I become a priest in any diocese or only the one I am from? For example, I am from Iowa, but I do not want to live here my whole life. Could I enter into a seminary in, say, Chicago or NYC and get ordained in a diocese there? If you have an answer to this question, please help me!

God bless,


It varies from diocese to diocese, but most will accept applicants from outside the diocese, provided you have some kind of connection there. I went to college within the diocese I’m now studying for, but I have never actually been a permanent resident there. I did have that connection though, having gone to college. Remember that you first join a diocese’s formation program, and then the bishop sends you to seminary. So you might be from one diocese, study for another, but go to seminary somewhere else entirely (as I am). You’d have to check with the vocations director for wherever you’re interested in applying.

Know of my prayers. Feel free to PM with any questions.



Edward George is correct. It varies from diocese to diocese. Many will want to see that you have some sort of connection to the diocese, but not all. One priest in my diocese is from one neighboring diocese and went to school in the other neighboring diocese and wound up here because it was in between. :shrug:

It’s really up to the Vocations Director (and ultimately the bishop). If you do want to apply to a diocese other than your own, be prepared to answer the question as to why you are applying there and not to the diocese you are from. Bishops don’t generally want to poach vocations from their brother bishops. :wink:

But it never hurts to reach out to some Vocations Directors. Make some calls and send some emails, if for no other reason but to gather info and make some connections. That can only assist you in your discernment.

God bless!


Yes. You can apply for ANY diocese.
You email their vocation director to meet up with you.
He also prays and discerns of God is calling you to his diocese, if he and that bishop give the ok, then you go to seminary for their diocese,

It depends also:
What.diocese does God want you in?

Download from the free kindle app onto your phone, tablet or computer, and buy and download the book “To save a Thousand Souls”

The best book for.discerning diocesan priesthood


Thank you all so much! I plan to go to college for four years and discern whether I am going to enter seminary or not and I was curious as to where I can go. Thank you! :thumbsup:


I can’t add much more than the great advice that has been already given, but I do know that with deacons (and I presume priests too) can do what is called an excardination/incardination request. This allows them to request for a transfer to another diocese.

I knew a deacon at our church who wanted to retire down in Florida. He had to make an excardination request that would allow him to not be under the control/direction of the old diocese and then make an incardination request to his new diocese.

Again, talk with a vocation director and he can be a lot more help.


Likewise, it is also possible for a seminarian to transfer from one diocese to another, although considerably more difficult.

For priests, their existing bishop has to agree to release them and the bishop of the diocese they want to go to has to agree to accept them. Both bishops need to agree before a priest can be excardinated from one diocese and incardinated into another, otherwise he can’t move. For seminarians, the process is much more difficult because different dioceses can use different seminaries and, while everyone follows the same overall program of formation, the exact process that’s followed can differ.


In some sense it’s more difficult, as you say, because different dioceses use different seminaries. But it’s actually not more difficult canonically, since issues of faculties and incardination/excardination don’t apply to laymen, which seminarians (save for the deacons) are. I have a friend who switched from one diocese to my own this year, and it only took a couple of months–it was no more difficult than the application process to get in, and perhaps easier, since I believe his diocese simply sent his file over to mine.



That is true and I also know somebody who did something similar to your friend. Of course it depends a lot on the circumstances and, particularly, on the closeness of the relationship between two dioceses in question. Moving to the diocese just down the road (in some cases, literally) is one thing, moving to one on the other side on the country (or indeed in another country) is another thing altogether. It would also depend on the seminarians reasons for wanting to transfer.


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