Discernment difficulty


So I am scheduled to enter the seminary for my diocese in the fall. This comes after about 2+ years of discerning and I have been out of college 4 years now. It hasn’t been an easy decision at all for me. At first I was really eager to enter (about 2 years ago). However, this eagerness has waned for a few reasons.

First, I was laid off from a job I had, and now I am just eager to get another job and finished what I started. Second, our diocese sends our seminarians to one of two diocese. They have decided to send me to the one I did not prefer over the other, and I really don’t like this seminary because everything is in the same building and I have felt trapped when I visited.

I still have a strong desire to get married, but I believe God wants me to go into seminary and be a priest. To some extent, I feel like I am being pulled away from what I want.

I have decided I have to go to seminary this year come hell or high water. However, I don’t think I can make it a full 7 years in this seminary. If I was at the other seminary, I think I might be able to, but not this one. Is it right to go to seminary with the intention of staying the whole time? Do you think they’d let me transfer to the other seminary after a semester or a year?

I have a lot of questions. I thank you for helping.


Talk to your vocation director and other priests in your diocese about your concerns. I would urge someone seriously considering the priesthood to discern it at seminary for at least a year.

Christ and His Church certainly need priests and there is no more important job a man can have on this earth. Priests generally have a high level of job satisfaction as they know how important the work they are doing is. That does not mean that the years of discernment and preparation will be easy. They may be quite hard.


If you truly believe that God want you to go into Seminary and become a Priest, then that eliminates the “but” that you stated. This is far more important than which Seminary that you should attend. Submit yourself to the wisdom of the Diocese and the Lord, if indeed he is calling you the Priesthood. Thank God for His calling in your life and leave the rest to Him. :smiley:


It’s wonderful that you even considered a vocation however, it’s okay if it’s not for you. You can contribute in other ways.

If you really wanted to be a Priest, minor discomforts and choice would not be an issue. The fact that you are mentioning these on here is a red light.

Please see your vocations director. You are better off speaking to other Priests on this dilemma as we are laypeople for the most part.


First of all, congratulations on taking the leap in applying for the seminary. I don’t think it’s ever an easy decision and it’s good that you had a decent period of discernment beforehand. Some pre-entry anxiety is perfectly normal and I’ve known a few people to develop “cold feet” and pull out before entering. That said, it’s always tempting to avoid committing - there’s always something else which you can find to do instead even if it (supposedly) only for a few years.

In answer to you first question, the whole idea of going to a seminary is to test and explore your vocation - it doesn’t mean that you’re expected to last the whole time because to do so would create unnecessary pressures and unrealistic expectations. The reality is that more than a few people leave at varying stages of the seminary journey having concluded that that’s not where they’re supposed to be. If anything it’s actually far better that you discover that while in the seminary than after ordination - in fact the whole seminary process is geared toward ensuring that seminarians are thinking about whether or not priesthood is for them throughout the varying stages of formation. It’s important to bear in mind that nobody’s going to ask you to commit to priesthood after your first day (or even your first year) in the seminary. It may be that you are called to marriage but just because you feel a desire to get married doesn’t automatically mean that you’re not called to be a priest. Priesthood is, after all, about sacrifice and also about people - many priests I know would make wonderful fathers (in the biological sense) and that’s what makes them fantastic priests. If anything, a disinterest in marriage would be a bit of a concern from someone in your position.

So turning next to the “feel” of the place. I’ve always encouraged people I know who are discerning a vocation to visit the seminary and see how they feel about the place. Granted, it’s far from scientific (or even rational) but, from my own experience the feeling you get in a place can be important and so you should pay attention to it. That said feelings about a place can and do change and are particularly influenced by those around us. Speaking as a seminarian myself, the support and companionship of my brother seminarians means an enormous amount to me. So again, give it time - wait until you’ve met and gotten to know your new “brothers”. Is it possible to transfer? Sure but that’s something you’d need to discuss with your vocations director and / or your bishop and IMHO they’re likely to want you to wait at least a year.

Ultimately, just remember that vocational discernment isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon and so you need to take it slowly, especially at the start, and expect a few periods of darkness and doubt along the way. Finally, don’t forget to tell Jesus how you feel.


I’ll pray for you but remember one thing. The discernment for the priesthood (as well as the diaconate) is a two way street. The church is discerning you and you are discerning your call. At any time up to the point where you are laying face down on the cathedral floor during the ordination you can decide this is not for you.

May God bless you with your discernment. I know it can be hard as I am going through my own discernment for the diaconate.



It is very common in discernment to find that doubts, fears, and anxieties arise after you make a decision. Remember that these are a form of spiritual attack and that the devil is upset about the good decision you have made. Stay true to what you once experienced so clearly and remind yourself of the time when you did desire to enter. Then surrender yourself to the Lord, walking with Him one step at a time. Right now He is asking you to enter the seminary. You don’t need to know what the next step will be. Perhaps He will ask you to stay another year, perhaps not. But that’s up to Him to show when the time is right. For now, just stay faithful to the step He has asked you to take.

May God bless you for your generous response to His call!


The story of my life has been being pulled in directions that I did not want to go:

I didn’t want to be a Computer Science Major… Graduated in Computer Science.
I wanted to get married… I’m currently a seminarian.
I thought I’d go with one diocese/group and not the other… I found myself leaving to go to the other place.

I’ve found that you just accept God’s will.:shrug: You might not like it, but God has a plan (just look at Jonah :thumbsup:).


I am praying that you may find the right path. I would be inclined to go ahead and enter, and give it a year or two. You may be able to better discern when free from other distractions and worldly concerns. Take the time to pray and examine your call. May God bless you.


Make the best of what you have. Figure out a way to go for a bike ride or run off campus 4 times a week if the building is suffocating. You can also study at a picnic bench under a tree rather than in your room (so long as it’s above 40F / 5C) and pray your rosary outside (even if it’s freezing). We will never like every single aspect of a decision we make but we can choose how we deal with the less pleasant parts of a decision.


The first time I stepped inside our seminary, I had butterflies. I felt like I was somewhere I was meant to be all my life.

Whenever someone I’m talking to opens up about what they are going through, I wish I could hear their confession.

Whenever I lift the host, during a communion service outside of mass, and say “behold the Lamb of God…” I fight back tears, thinking this may be as close as I will ever be to celebrating mass.

I’m an extraordinary minister of holy communion, a ministry for which I am forever grateful and humbled. But deep down in my heart, I often think I was called to be a priest and “missed the chance.”

If you don’t feel attracted to the priesthood, you should talk to someone about it now. But if you truly believe the priesthood is God’s will for your life, you will never truly be who you were meant to be apart from that destiny. The details of where you serve, which building you study in and so forth, I would think to be details that fade into the background when you focus on the awesome truth of living in persona christi, offering the sacrifice of the mass and bringing God’s mercy to hurting souls every day.

That’s my two cents- my admittedly non-expert, extremely biased two cents.

And you have my prayers. Take a deep breath and pray like crazy brother! :thumbsup:


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