Couple of Questions


#1

Hello everyone! I am 18 years old, and will be starting my senior year in high school. I have been discerning the priesthood and was wondering if I would be allowed to become a seminarian in a different diocese right after high school? If you could answer my questions that would be great. I haven’t have great experiences in my diocese and i just wanted to now my options.

  1. Am I allowed to look at other diocese to enter seminary into? If so, how does this work? Am I allowed to take a visit to a college seminary if I am not apart of their diocese? What diocese would you recommend?

  2. Would you recommend entering seminary after high school? If I decide not to go to seminary straight after high school, I am planning on attending Benedictine College.


#2

Hi Catholic runner! Wow, you sound a lot like me! I just graduated from high school and was seriously considering the diocesan seminary out of high school. However, I chose to attend a Benedictine college, because I believe if God is calling me to a religious/priestly vocation, it is with the Benedictines that ran my high school.

As for your questions:

  1. Yes, you can look into other diocesan seminaries. However, I must ask, what is your reasoning for that? Is your diocesan seminary liberal or something? In order to enter another diocesan seminary (or something like the FSSP), you must contact your diocesan vocations director and discuss the matter with him.

  2. Every situation is different. Talking with the vocations director is extremely helpful. He can tell you his thoughts and walk you through the process. Some recommend joining right out of high school. However, the FSSP seminary, for example, recommends you attend college for 2 years in order to “grow” a little bit more before committing.


#3

I feel that my diocese is too liberal and not as traditional as I would like it to be. For example, none of our seminarians wear cassocks and instead wear diocesan polos. Could I start seminary in my diocese and then ask to be switched to a different diocese?


#4

I won’t be very helpful except to say that I know at Notre Dame they have an undergraduate seminary program called Old College specifically for men who would like to discern the Holy Cross priesthood while pursuing an undergraduate degree. The men live in community and follow a structured weekly schedule which includes prayer, spiritual formation, community time, academics, etc. The men I met from Old College were solidly, faithfully Catholic (as I think most devout Catholics of the JPII generation are).

I would not be surprised if other Catholic universities offer similar programs.

Good luck and God bless you.


#5

I pray for you and wish the best in discernment.

You are not bound to enter the diocese that you are from. You could enter any diocese or religious order that accepts you.

It very well might be a smart idea to attend college and get your degree in business or something you choose before entering the seminary. That will afford you the time to study, read scripture, pray and learn your faith. In the seminary you are most likely not going to be learning about theology 101 i.e. fundamental or dogmatic theology. I think this is one of the crucial elements missing in most priest. By studying ahead of time you will be able to know the Catholic faith, so that you would be better equipped as a priest to lead your flock.

A few things to consider is when speaking with a vocations director find out if he has the final say on where you will go for seminary, or if that decision is through a panel. It may be you have some feminist nuns directing where the priest are going to be formed. You can research ahead of times if the seminary you would be attending is heterodox. Sometimes there has been reform, so you will need to investigate if it is still bad or good. An example is Assumption in San Antonio or Holy Trinity in Dallas etc. Now that Fr. Duca is no longer at Holy Trinity it might actually be decent. You can spend time visiting the seminaries while you are going to college.

There are some diocese that will pay for your time as you discern in the Seminary, and some that will demand you pay back the money they spent on you while discerning. That is important because the cost is much more than just attending college. If you attend St. Mary’s in Houston you will most likely think Teilhard De Chardin and Shillebeckx are great theologians, and doubt that God incarnate had a clue He knew He was God. Does God sacramentally present in the Eucharist no more about himself than Jesus as a baby did?

This post may seem cynical, but it is intended to help you as you make the most important decision in your life. When you begin seminary studies you will have less time to read. Knowing who are the formation directors at a seminary is vitally important, or you could end up with a militant nun like Sr. St. John who thinks women should be priest, or a Fr. Shawn Martin that places more importance on his own ego and teachings, and could berate a pregnant woman for kneeling to receive the Eucharist.

There are always the Capuchins and other orders that are awesome as well.


#6

I’m not sure about whether you’re allowed to look into different dioceses, but I wanted to comment about entering right after high school, I think it depends on the plans God has for a person. I know a seminarian now who wishes he would have joined earlier. I also know priests that are content with being called later in life because it is the plan God had for them. I really think God chooses differently for one person than He does for another. I think the best way to decide what He has planned for you would be to talk to your vocations director.

I’m praying for you.


#7

Thank you! This really means a lot.


#8

The first thing I’d say is that a diocesan priest is called to a particular diocese since he is incardinated (basically joined) to it in his priesthood. So it’s important that a prospective seminarian has a pre-existing relationship with the diocese he seeks to apply to. Most (if not all) dioceses will not accept someone from outside of the diocese. There are also practical reasons for this since, as a priest, you would be ministering in the parishes , schools and chaplaincies of the diocese it helps to have some first-hand understanding and knowledge of them.

As far as choice of seminaries is concerned, most diocese typically only use one or two seminaries and, while you might be asked to express a preference, the choice is ultimately up to your bishop. What you need to remember though is that there’s no such thing as a perfect seminary (or diocese for that matter) and political terms such as “liberal” or “conservative” are ultimately unhelpful since the only “agenda” a Church institution should seek to push is the Gospel. Whether a seminary’s students wear cassocks or polo shirts really doesn’t impact upon the question of formation for the priesthood - just like what a priest wears doesn’t reflect his priesthood. It’s also important for a seminarian to be open to differing points of view - particularly those which might be directly opposed to his own. This doesn’t mean abandoning one’s own views and ideas but it does mean respecting others and recognising the wisdom they have to offer and, most importantly, a willingness to be formed.

If you do feel called to priesthood, I encourage you to explore that calling in the context of your home diocese. Granted, you may ultimately feel called elsewhere but make sure that your reasons for pursuing a particular calling are based on how you can best serve the gospel and not on personal preferences. Take courage and let God lead and guide you where He knows is best for you to go - the road to priesthood is challenging but immensely rewarding.


#9

I really do not understand some young men’s focus on what they are wearing. You are at the seminary to study and be formed for priesthood, and also for discernment. What a seminary allows seminarians to wear or not wear should not be a determining factor. When I was studying for my MA at our local seminary, the men did not wear clerical clothes except for liturgies, and for some they wore black suits and ties. Plenty of good priests came out of that seminary.


#10

I have to agree. Polo, Cassock or pink tutu, it shouldn’t make a difference if you are following the plans that God has for you. You should be thrilled to wear whatever it is as the call is the important thing, not what you wear.


#11

I disagree with those who say that a cassock or pink tutu have no play in priestly formation.
clothing does reflect what is happening inside an individual (within cultural limitations). A seminarian wearing a pink tutu is far less likely to take his formation seriously, less likely to adhere to the traditional roles of a priest in a diocese.

Just as the veiled woman in the pew is less likely to be pro-abortion in her views, the seminarian in the cassock is less likely to be in favor of the ordination of women, reception of the Eucharist for re-married Catholics, and a host of other liberal ideas. This may not have been true seventy years ago, but it is almost undoubtedly true now.

The polo - well, are you studying to be a priest or a man behind the counter at the local auto parts store?


#12

I generally agree that a man discerning diocesan priesthood should give first priority to entering within his home diocese or the diocese with which he has the most connections/time spent. However, although thankfully it is becoming less and less of an issue today, I think there are good reasons to pursue incardination in a diocese other than one’s own. And in that vein, yes, perhaps knowledge of the schools/parishes within a diocese is helpful, I wouldn’t say it is harmful to not have such knowledge. But anyway, generally, I agree that one should always seriously consider his own diocese, even if it is more “liberal” than others. In fact, that could be a good reason for an orthodox Catholic man to enter with his own “liberal” diocese - to be an orthodox example to people who need it most.

Honestly, I think it’s a difficult question of which diocese to enter, if one’s diocese is less than ideal. But I think it ultimately depends on each individual man - his strengths and weaknesses, and what he needs most in formation. Formation of any priest is extremely important, of the utmost importance, for obvious reasons, so I believe the biggest reason not to enter with one’s own diocese is not necessarily how “liberal” it currently is, but where they send their seminarians for formation. And if the formation of the seminaries which a particular diocese sends their seminarians wouldn’t meet the seminarian where he is at in each area of formation, then I would argue that is a very, very good reason to not enter in one’s home diocese. The only way to do this is to develop relationships with both the vocation director and the other seminarians from the diocese. The vocation director, because he can help you discern whether or not you should enter with that particular diocese, i.e., whether the formation of that diocese’s seminaries will be adequate for that particular individual; and the seminarians, to get firsthand knowledge of what seminary life/formation is like there. I think it’s important to keep an open mind in these matters, but on the other hand, formation is of the utmost importance!

To give my opinion on your other questions:

  1. Another thought on looking into another diocese - even though I think it’s legitimate to look into other dioceses with which one has little to no connection, I think it’s difficult to do so, because the vocations director of the other diocese has to be open to accepting “outsiders”, and especially if you have absolutely no connection to that diocese, he will probably be very hesitant. However, I don’t think there would be any harm in contacting that particular vocations director and asking him if he considers men outside the diocese, and if so, you could set up a meeting with him, during which you could express your concerns with your own diocese. Either he will agree with you to some extent and consider you, or he will “set you straight” and say you should just go with your own. Regarding visiting seminaries, I can’t say for sure, but I think it would be hard to set up a visit outside of a diocesan sponsored visit. But again, that’s something you could look into - look up the potential seminary’s visiting policies, if you can find them.

  2. Similar to things I’ve already said - I think it depends on the individual. I think for some it can be good to enter right out of high school, and for others, maybe not. This is something a vocations director could help you discern, along with your individual spiritual director, if you have one. In any case, as far as I know, Benedictine College would be a good place to continue discernment.

Regarding seminary dress, while I don’t think that should be the sole reason one decides upon entering with a certain diocese, I think it plays a part in the bigger issue of formation. Personally, I think it is great for a seminary to require a cassock more than just for liturgy, as it can serve as a constant reminder of what one is doing there in the first place, and as a reminder of who he is and who he is going to become after ordination (God-willing). I think dress is extremely important. Probably the same people who don’t like the cassock or who think seminarians (or priests, for that matter) shouldn’t be required to wear it also believe it’s ok to look shabby for Mass. Because “it’s only the intention that matters” and “it’s between them and God” - that kind of thing. But the reality is, one’s clothing can and does affect the way one thinks.


#13

My husband believes very strongly that seminarians should *at least * finish college and have *at least * one year in the workforce before he enters seminary. Life experience, truly discerning as an adult a vocation, etc.

All that might be true, but my favorite priest knew when he was 14 that the priesthood was his vocation and never looked back. I think that is somewhat unusual though. I am all for seminarians finishing a college course of study, or at least two years, minimum. And while I am all for pre-theological programs at some colleges, I’d be more comfortable with engineering, biology, history, etc.

That way, as a priest, the man will bring far more knowledge and experience with him.

But, no one consulted me on these issues. :smiley:


#14

Though of course one must admit that college seminary is not the same as the secular college experience, even a Catholic college experience, seminary is the best place to truly discern your vocation. I agree that not everyone is ready to go to seminary right out of high school, but some are.

All college seminary programs, as far as I am aware, offer a liberal arts education, so any seminarian who enters right after high school will receive that. Do you mean that you wish all seminarians/priests had experience in a “practical” major first, or what? That is not necessary to be a good priest. Can it be helpful? Sure, but definitely not necessary. A good liberal arts education is the best background for a priest to begin his theological studies. I’m not trying to discredit any priest who did not receive this, and I’m not saying that a priest who has not received it is a bad priest, but I am saying that that is the ideal.


#15

I don’t mean to sound uncharitable, but that’s something you are going to have to get over. In the grand scheme of things (serving the people of God), it is a minor issue (and, quite frankly, my seminary doesn’t even have polos or anything that would identify us as seminarians).

So you don’t misunderstand me: I agree with you wholeheartedly, but this is not a reality at many seminaries in the United States.

Part of formation though is learning to live in community, which often calls for compromise… so long as it does not conflict with the teachings of the Church, of course (and I’d be lying to say you won’t find some of that as well). I’ve found that being surrounded by …interesting… theological viewpoints is helpful because it causes one to research what and (more importantly) why the Church teaches what she teaches.

Can you? Yes.
Should you? No.

I can explain this further if needed.


#16

I think it certainly helps, at least in the United States. :compcoff:

My (first-hand) experience with “lifers”, as they’re often called (those who have been in seminary since high school or college), is that they tend to have to play “catch-up” in social skills with those who are not “lifers”. More often than not, (again, in my experience) they tend to have poor conflict and conflict resolution skills, both of which are necessary in community life and especially in parish work.

…though I also have brother seminarians who came from Nigeria and have been in seminary since they were 10 (and do not have the aforementioned issues), so… :shrug:


#17

I don’t have much advice for you regarding number one, but I will say a few words about your second question:

I am a 19 year old woman and will be entering religious life in a few weeks. I had originally planned on entering religious life directly out of high school, but realized which order I was called to with very little time left before entrance last year and so I decided to go to Benedictine College for a year to let my family adjust and to give myself more time for preparation. I absolutely LOVED BC and it was super hard to leave. I made the best friends one could ever ask for, I matured greatly, and I grew deeply in my prayer life. I would join the OSB Monks for prayers every day (even waking up early and going to morning prayer with some of my friends who held me accountable and wouldn’t let me sleep in:thumbsup:) which was amazing for many reasons: first, because it taught me to love the liturgy of the hours and reminded me throughout the day to be attentive to the Lord, secondly because the monks are amazing (seriously, if you go to Benedictine you will absolutely love them, they are so holy, welcoming, wonderful, etc.) and lastly because the Abbey Church, while perhaps not the most beautiful building, becomes a gorgeous castle once you let it become the home of your heart where you encounter the Lord daily. That being said, the year was also an intense time of spiritual attack. The devil took advantage of the fact that he had another year to try to convince me to abandon my vocation and launched many attacks against me. Through the Lord’s grace and because I had already made up my mind about my vocation, I was able to resist the attacks and actually grow in confidence of my vocation because of them. However, if I had been doubting my vocation going into it, I may have lost the resolve to pursue religious life during my year at school. Also, if I had stayed longer than a year, debt would have begun to get in the way of discernment. So there are both pros and cons to going to college before pursuing your vocation. What it really comes down to is what path God has planned for you. Through prayer, Christ directed me to wait a year and I believe that year was greatly beneficial to me. But if that year had been my plan and not Christ’s plan, it could have been deadly. I did watch a few friends decide to focus on living their college life so much that they abandoned discerning their vocations at BC… So ultimately, you need to ask Jesus what path He wants you to take.

Lastly, a side note- while I was at Benedictine College, a friend and I started a vocational discernment group for men and women to support each other as they discern their vocations. So if you do end up at BC, you may want to check that out. And, should you end up at BC, please do take good care of “my” monks. I’m quite fond of them :slight_smile:

I won’t be online much longer, but feel free to try to message me with any other questions you might have about discernment or Benedictine College.


#18

I will pray for your discernment.
But honestly…if the sticking point is the clothing?
Not a good reason to dismiss your Diocese out of hand.
They are just clothes and clothes do not make the priest.
Visit the Vocations Director. They’ve met literally every kind of person with every type of spirituality. They are there to help you.
Call the Chancery and may God’s holy will be done.


#19

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