Discerning My Vocation


Hi everyone,
I’ve been confused as to how to discern my vocation for the past few months. I am currently going into my senior year of high school and obviously deep into college searching. I am still undecided as to what I want to do as a career but the priesthood has always called me, and many people I know have recommended I follow that path. I also feel a calling from God but I’m just not sure how He wants me to go about it. I don’t know if I should enter a seminary or go to college first. I was thinking of pursuing a major in Theology or Catholic Studies as well as another major that interests me. I have been looking at many Catholic universities like BC, Holy Cross, Assumption, and Providence.

I’d really just like advice on the whole thing. Should I go to college first and pursue a theological program of studies which highly interests me or should I go directly to the seminary? Does anyone else have experience with this? Would I then be able to enter a seminary afterwards? Also, does anyone know of any very strong theology/catholic studies programs in the New England area?
Thank you very much for all your help and God Bless.


I don’t have any experience with this, so I am probably not the best to answer, but I would suggest studying Theology at a university. This way if you realize you have another interest you can just change majors or at least explore another area. I don’t have much experience with this at all though. I will be a freshman this year though. I didn’t look at any schools in the New England area, though, so I can only offer you Notre Dame and Creighton which are both midwest schools. Creighton has more of a pre-med reputation, though.


Look into Holy Apostles Seminary in Connecticut. Definitely make sure any seminary you enter is a good one. Many aren't. If you go to college first, that will lessen the number of years you'll need to spend in a seminary before getting ordained, esp if you study the right subjects. So even that might be working towards a vocation. The danger of college first is the chance of falling for a girl you meet there. But some seminaries send their guys to actual colleges. Research seminaries. Make sure you're getting (good) philosophy in college if that's where you go. Look into Holy Apostles Seminary. Most of all, pray a lot, especially to Our Lady. prayer, is how God reveals vocations. I think sometimes it takes a while for people to learn their vocation because God wants them to have that motivation to pray---especially to Our Lady. If you haven't, read True Devotion to Mary and books by or about Archbishop Luis Martinez. I also recomend the writings of servant of God Louisa Piccarretta-- although these are easy to misunderstand, unfortunately. She spoke of a special grace of unparalled union with God's will, which it seems Archbishop Martinez had.


Also, I'll keep you in prayer. Pray for my discernment and for the return of my friend Norberto, to the Church. He is partly away because of a certain priest. This shows how important GOOD priests are (don't let that scare you.)


My suggestion, this early, is to contact the vocations director of your diocese. You could talk to him and he could offer you options, go on a discernment retreat, etc.

Yes, you can go to college first and enter the seminary later. Or if the vocation is there, you could go directly to a seminary. Usually, the course studies for the priesthood is philosophy first, and theology later.

Hope this helps…God bless.


I have no experience in this area but from a pure practical point of view, I think you should follow your heart and pursue the theology option because that is where your heart is. Long term this will help you because it will open several doors. First, it will give you some time to mature and live the single life. Two, you will be able to date, interact with women who have the same interests as you. From that you will be able to explore and discern if the priesthood is really for you. I know several priests who got degrees in other areas first before entering the priesthood. One worked for several years in a different field before he joined.A friend of mine is in his fourth year at seminary, got his degree in theology before he joined. Needless to say pursuing your degree first will help you on several levels.

I suggest that you that you speak with someone who is in charge with vocations in your area. The person in charge of vocations in my area is awesome and I can always put you into contact with him if you don't mind speaking with someone up north.

If you do decide to pursue your degree, find yourself a spiritual director because he/she will guide you as God directs you in whatever direction He is calling.


Pray, pray and pray no matter how long it takes:). That’s how God reveals vocations.


The trouble with going to college first is debt. Most non-seminary Catholic colleges are pretty pricey and you run up a lot of student that may be hard to pay off after. I know most religious communities will not accept student debt but diocesan policies (check your diocese).

As someone else stated, many (I think most) seminaries in the US send those straight out of high school to do a bachelor's degree (with a major or minor in philosophy) before doing theology. Such a degree is mandated by the Church, and the tendency is becoming that it must be the major, for instance the Pope just added a year to the minimum philosophy course in pontifical institutions.

I am studying theology right now and can tell you haveing philosophy first helped straighten it out and avoid heresies.

As for orthodoxy, I don't have an exact guide but I know Holy Apostles in Connecticut is good and Mount St Mary's in Maryland is good. Mount St. Mary's is a seminary and University so you can take clases not being a seminarian. Holy Apostles is one of the few seminaries in the US which will accept a seminarian (for the first year) without sponsorship by a diocese or religious community. In other words, either one of these would let you discern a little bit and do courses that will get college credit if you discern away form the vocation.

And consider a religious vocation not just the diocesan priesthood. I recomend my own congregation, the Legion of Christ (e-mail me if you want info), but could name at least a dozen others that are good, and I figure almost any religious would say his community was the best.

Hope that helps.

Br Matthew, LC


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