I’ve believed in the Catholic Church and studied her teachings for a few years now, but I plan on converting only after I graduate high school. I’ve also been thinking about the Priesthood. My question is, do I have to be Catholic for a certain number of years in order to join a seminary? If so, for how long?
Typically recent converts are expected to wait a few years (anything from 2 to 5) before applying. This is partly to allow time to move on from the “honeymoon” phase, as well as to allow more time for them to become used to living their new faith. The exact time period will be up to the individual order / diocese you apply to.
First, I don’t think you “join” a seminary–you attend. And, normally, you are ASSIGNED to a seminary by your bishop or religious superior. I think you have the process reversed. First you must be accepted by either a diocese (bishop) or a religious community, and then THEY determine where you shall study.
Of course, some seminaries also have programs for lay students, but I don’t think that is what you are referring to. In any event, if you think you may have a vocation to the priesthood, talk to your diocese’s vocation director (or you may want to begin with your parish priest), or the vocation director of a religious community if that is where you feel you may be called.
It does not apply directly to seminary studies, but Canon Law offers:
Can. 1042 The following are simply impeded from receiving orders:
3/ a neophyte unless he has been proven sufficiently in the judgment of the ordinary.
(NB: *“simply impeded” *means it is not a permanent impediment) IMHO the Ordinary’s judgment would be greatly influenced by the judgment of his appointed Diocesan Vocations Director (or similar position) – A neophyte would be wise to seek the counsel of this person.
Who Is Not A Canon Lawyer
The simple answer is: No. You might not have to wait at all. You should probably discuss this with a vocations director of the diocese or order you are interested in. They can help prepare you and if they judge you to be suitable and have been speaking with you for a while they may make the decision that you could attend seminary or novitiate more quickly.
Many religious orders have a stage before you become a Novice. During this stage, postulancy, you live the life of a religious brother but you make no commitment to the order. This could, in theory, be done even if you aren’t baptised in the Church.
I would recommend speaking to a vocations director now if you are interested in priesthood.
My understanding where entering a religious order is concerned is that you must wait at least 2 years after entering the Church.Given the enthusiasm and zeal of many new converts that is great wisdom…
First things first… Actually convert.
Discuss the possibilities with the pastor of the nearest Catholic church. Don’t delay it if possible. The Gospel doesn’t encourage such a thing, but rather the opposite.
Realistically, your diocese is not going to take you on until you have graduated college. Maybe you could open the lines of communication with them, but you must understand there is no rush… It might be better to wait a bit. PM if you’d like to talk more.
That’s not a hard and fast rule. A vocations director or religious superior can waive this at his/her discretion if they feel the person is making a mature and well thought out decision.
Hence my advice to begin talking to the vocations director now.