Discernment Road-Block


I’m in Queensland, Australia. I’m nearly nineteen years old, and I’ve been discerning the priesthood on and off for about four years. This is probably going to sound like a confused rant:

I often have people ask me if I’m currently in seminary or entering, and many other Catholics in my diocese (including priests) have this belief that I’m going to become a priest. Even my dying uncle (he was under the effects of medication) was calling me ‘Father Vincent’ when I visited him before he passed away. I’m almost certain that I’m being called to the priesthood, but I have a problem. The seminary that my diocese sends its seminarians to is in the archdiocese of Brisbane, and many conservative parishioners have a strong opposition to its seminary, and they tell me that I shouldn’t go there. I went to a retreat at the seminary, last year, and I just don’t know if that’s where I’m supposed to be. During Mass, there was no kneeling at the consecration, no kneeling in adoration (except for benediction), and it felt very foreign. Would my concern here be trivial? I don’t know, and it’s eating me inside. I don’t feel like I can talk to a priest about it, because the situation with my diocese (Toowoomba) is quite controversial, and it’s almost like a schism. If you look it up, you’ll understand the complexity.

I am also friends with the vocations director of another diocese, which has a more traditionally oriented seminary, and he has invited me to visit. However, would it be wrong for me to leave my diocese for another, because of such difficulties?

I really have no idea what to do. Does any one have any experience with this kind of situation? It’s really hampering my discernment. Prayer helps immensely, but I can’t find a definite answer.



I have actually heard of your diocese and some of the issues it has. I would say first of all, pray about where God is wanting you to go right now. When you go to seminary, it is about discernment. Men find themselves along a path they never imagined at the beginning. This is not like going to college and planning out your life, this is about listening to God and following He prompts along the way. Go to wherever He is leading you today.

Do not worry about the particulars of a seminary. In my experience, it is often a good thing to go to a place that is different than what you are comfortable with. You won’t lose your sense of self, while also being comfortable with the things that you may not have been comfortable with before. When I went to seminary, it was quite different than what I would have wanted, but it ended up being exactly right for me.

There is nothing wrong with going to another diocese, many people do that. What is important is figuring out where God is wanting you to go for now. What is really important is to pray. Remember that you are not going to figure out where you are meant to be before seminary. That is not how it works. What matters is figuring out where God wants you today. Perhaps you may discern for another location, and later realize you were meant to be ordained for your home diocese, or for a religious order. That happens! That is how God works and that’s fine. Again, you are not planning out your life, you are just taking baby steps. You will have plenty of time to discern. You will never know where God intends for you to be a priest without going to seminary first. I know I have said this several times already - but seminary is where you will learn where you need to be. All you need to think about is where God wants you right now. You will have plenty of time to think about all these things and you’ll need to be in seminary to do it.

That being said, I will also give you a little practical advice. A diocese that is interested in you, especially where you have a friend as a vocation director would be the most awesome thing. A dysfunctional diocese sucks to discern with. If you feel God is calling you to go to that diocese, then do it. Men go to other dioceses all the time.

Other things that you might ask about is how seminary is paid for and whether or not there is any kind of stipend. Here in the US, dioceses can be very different on these issues and they are important. Some places, depending on your level of education, will pay for seminary and even give you money each month. Other places may offer you nothing and only forgive your loans if you are ordained,


You may attend any seminary that will accept you. Thank you for being a priest.


Not necessarily, no. You have to be accepted by a diocese (or order) and it’s up to them where they send you. Most dioceses will want you to have some sort of connection with them before they’ll accept you but, at the very least, you need to discern a call to that particular diocese. Put simply, you need to be able to answer the question “why there” for yourself particularly, but also because you can expect to be asked it by the diocese you’re applying to.

No seminary is perfect but you do need to feel like it’s the right place for you and it’s the people in the seminary, more than anything else, which you need to look at in terms of how they relate to each other (both staff and seminarians).

Finally, I’m aware of the problems in your diocese but don’t let that worry you - things have a way of working themselves out in time.


Praying for you and your discernment.


No, it would not be wrong. Discernment is about finding where God is calling you. If that happens to be another diocese, so be it.

That being said, the seminary exists solely for purposes of formation. At the end of the day (as a priest) you are still called to say the mass faithfully, by the book, as has been determined by The Church to be the most correct form of worshiping our Lord. Going to a seminary that doesn’t entirely have their ducks in a row isn’t going to change that, although if they start teaching contrary to Catholic faith you certainly have recourse to the local ordinary (or higher if necessary).

Sort of. Our seminary’s pretty spot on, but I’ve been to a couple of masses (even a confirmation mass :rolleyes:) with the non-kneeling issue around the area, and I understand completely. Frankly, I just kneel myself. If others get the hint, all the better.:shrug:

You won’t have a definitive answer until either you have a ring on your finger or your nose hits the marble. :compcoff:


Why not visit the Conservative seminary and first see if you like it, and then from there talk to your friend about a possible transfer? I don’t see anything wrong with it if you really feel at home there.


Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance & direction in your discernment.


It would absolutely NOT be wrong for you to check out another seminary before entering the one your parish is affiliated with and that you are uncomfortable with. Unlike some of the other posters, I know nothing of what issues are going on in your parish. That isn’t the major point however in my opinion. This is the REST OF YOUR LIFE that you are talking about. If you are uncomfortable about a seminary even before joining it, how will you feel in 5 or 10 years?

If you look at the many different seminaries out there, it becomes pretty obvious fairly quickly that it’s not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. Thus, some priests become Dominicans, others Franciscans and so on. Go check out the other seminary and go wherever your heart calls you!


There would be nothing wrong with leaving your diocese. It might even be a good idea. Take your friend up on the offer and stop worrying about staying where you are. You could be being called to leave your country let alone your diocese. Go for it!


I understand your concerns about your diocese and it’s seminary. I would bring those up with your vocation director.

Is the seminary you are concerned about the minor seminary or the major seminary? In minor seminary you will learn about philosophy and that will prepare you for the theologate. Major seminary is where you learn most of your theology.

I don’t think it’s as important to have solid theology in minor seminary as it is in major seminary.

I think you may be putting too much emphasis on where you are learning and not on where you will be serving. Your diocese will be your home for the rest of your life. Consider that before you worry about the school.

Remember a vocational call is to the priesthood and not to the seminary.


Thanks be to God and to you all for your advice.

The vocations director of the Archdiocese has asked me to ring him on Monday. Thank you for your prayers!


Praying for you!



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.