Formation questions


#1

Is it impossible or extremely hard to be accepted for seminary formation with out having completed some kind of college degree, or having held down job for a certain number of years ?

Would it be a logical to think that with out a solid work history , and a college degree, that the Catholic Church is not going to consider a man for consideration to seminary formation , no matter how strong his spiritual life is. ?

Some will say, hey St. John Vianney had problems in the seminary but he lived in a different time in life, his life was more active with a war at his heels and other things as well.

I have heard of people not being accepted to seminary formation even with a college degree, so I find that odd as well, obviously there needs to be a balance in a candidate but if one does not have a passion for finishing a degree , nor a passion to work in the grinding and torment of a secular job where there is nothing but misery and numerous hardships how does one prove that the passion he has to serve Christ is worth investing in..

Or perhaps how does one survive the struggles, hardships, misery, and torment of holding down a secular job long enough and the dread of finishing a degree they have no passion for nor can really afford to prove to a interview board that they can handle seminary formation, and exactly how much time would be sufficient to reasonable give proof to that ?

More over if time in the military is not good enough proof, then what is ?

Go Talk to your Vocation and Spiritual Director,

yes thank you very much for that advice , now if someone would like to venture a guess or take an educated guess, or has any insight / advise I would be interested in to read.

More over, when your Vocations Director and or Spiritual Director either can't or won't or does not know how to answer those questions, who is one suppose to go to ?


#2

Each local Bishop makes his own rules in this area. But may not ignore Cannon Law. He is free to be far more restrictive.

That's why only your diocesan director of vocations can advise you(or the director for the Order to which you are applying)

My brother applied straight out of high school and was rejected on the grounds that he was to young and inexperienced. He had believed that the panel would accept candidates of his age.

So if your director of vocations cannot answer the question and had clearly stated that then ask him if he would ask the Bishop on your behalf or ask to formally start the application process. Either way you will get your answer.

Also: do more research. Religious orders run their own formation programmes.
Also it is unrealistic to expect a man to build up many thousands of pounds or dollars in debt for a university degree he never intends to use. And hopes to never be able to repay. This also affects the local policies.


#3

The priesthood is a vocation, not a job.

The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means "to call." It is God who does the calling and the bishop who confirms the call on behalf of the Church.

Each situation is often unique. I've known guys who went straight from high school into the vocation program for their diocese. There is no universal law that a man must have his college degree in hand and several years of professional work under his belt. However, an indivudal vocations director might deem it in an applicant's best interest to widen his experience before apllying again.

I think sometimes people imagine that, since there is a "vocation crisis" in the number of priests we have that the Church will automatically let in anyone who applies. That is not the case. The Church wants good priests.

Now, of course, anyone who does not get accepted should not take it as a personal slight that they're not good enough. We all have different gifts. The priesthood isn't for everyone. I would always encourage someone who feels they have that calling to be in regular contact with their vocations director and to have a spiritual director (as you have already said :)). Keep praying and asking what the next step to take should be.


#4

Also it is unrealistic to expect a man to build up many thousands of pounds or dollars in debt for a university degree he never intends to use. And hopes to never be able to repay. This also affects the local policies.

agreed , but for myself personally I have no such debt. neither does my friend.

So if your director of vocations cannot answer the question and had clearly stated that then ask him if he would ask the Bishop on your behalf or ask to formally start the application process. Either way you will get your answer.

A reasonable answer, though my friend has lost trust in his V.D for many reasons, and is really on this journey by himself, the answers that a particular Bishop may have are really hind sight now as there is nothing anyone can personally do to change anyones mind, on top of that, there is still no guarantee that doing anything that the Bishop or a board suggests one personally does will then be proof enough that one is ready to further his or even her formation, if all that is given is a suggestion, of well if you had x,y,and z then we might be impressed enough or confident enough that you are serious. If on the other hand there was a guarantee that someone did x,y,and z and that would be enough proof and he or she would be accepted a diocese then perhaps one would willingly accept the challenge.

But to say to someone if you only had finished a college degree you did not have any passion for nor intended to use, just get a degree and go into debt to get that degree, then maybe we will be ready to consider…

I do not understand that type of mind set. Nor is it for me to understand probably, my friend feels he has gone as far as he can with his diocese, and is seeking other dioceses’ while trying to improve upon what he has to offer and polish up his autobiography that no one offered or even wanted to read because they did not want to have influence, I was unable to help because I have no clue what I could possibly have told him to exclude or to think about / reflect upon.

Thus back to my original questions, which were slightly being closed to touched upon.

One thing touched upon was Cannon Law, which I will have to research as it may answer the questions I posed as to the amount of time needed for holding a job, what education degree is most desired, before one will be accepted or considered for further formation, and maybe Cannon Law can answer why ones faith in Christ is not enough to serve Christ in a religious life.

Other than that all I know to do is to pray he finds what he is looking for and is open to what ever God guides him too.

Just was hoping there might be some more insight here to such questions.

An if he is to try another diocese how does he approach that diocese, or does he need permission from his Bishop to try else where ? Seems like the obvious question would be well why did you leave your diocese, and thus they would just contact that bishop to find out . An thus once rejected one is rejected all around.

  • shrugs *

#5

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:330751"]
The priesthood is a vocation, not a job.

The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means "to call." It is God who does the calling and the bishop who confirms the call on behalf of the Church.

Each situation is often unique. I've known guys who went straight from high school into the vocation program for their diocese. There is no universal law that a man must have his college degree in hand and several years of professional work under his belt. However, an indivudal vocations director might deem it in an applicant's best interest to widen his experience before apllying again.

I think sometimes people imagine that, since there is a "vocation crisis" in the number of priests we have that the Church will automatically let in anyone who applies. That is not the case. The Church wants good priests.

Now, of course, anyone who does not get accepted should not take it as a personal slight that they're not good enough. We all have different gifts. The priesthood isn't for everyone. I would always encourage someone who feels they have that calling to be in regular contact with their vocations director and to have a spiritual director (as you have already said :)). Keep praying and asking what the next step to take should be.

[/quote]

of course the priesthood is a vocation and not a job, sometimes I wonder if current priests need to be reminded of that from time to time.... but I digress,

It is not as if my friend lacks life experiences, he has gone through more in life than I have, his faith is all that means anything to him in this world, yet he feels slighted because of a lack of a college degree which he does not value nor has an interest in investing in, because he has no interest in working in the secular world for a compassionless company that could care less how dedicated one is to the company let alone if they live or die. His faith is all that matters to him. He knows who he is, he is just having a hard time finding here he belongs and is grabbing at anything or anyone for help.

And how is he supposed to know if he isn't called to the priesthood, how many rejections is he supposed to go through before he gets the hint, and then how is he supposed to be at peace with that knowledge and willing to keep following Christ after realizing he was wrong for making a decision to be willing to follow Christ as a priest.


#6

[quote="john78, post:4, topic:330751"]
An if he is to try another diocese how does he approach that diocese, or does he need permission from his Bishop to try else where ? Seems like the obvious question would be well why did you leave your diocese, and thus they would just contact that bishop to find out . An thus once rejected one is rejected all around.

  • shrugs *

[/quote]

Not to say that such a thing would not happen, but I do know a priest who applied in his home diocese, was rejected, and then just applied to a neighboring diocese and was accepted there (and he's now been a priest there for many years).

That would probably be a question they would ask. But it's not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle. Different dioceses have different qualities they are looking for in their priests.. :o


#7

ty joe and others for the responses, hopefully I can find a way to mesh it altogether to help make some sense out of things for him.


#8

[quote="john78, post:5, topic:330751"]
of course the priesthood is a vocation and not a job, sometimes I wonder if current priests need to be reminded of that from time to time.... but I digress,

It is not as if my friend lacks life experiences, he has gone through more in life than I have, his faith is all that means anything to him in this world, yet he feels slighted because of a lack of a college degree which he does not value nor has an interest in investing in, because he has no interest in working in the secular world for a compassionless company that could care less how dedicated one is to the company let alone if they live or die. His faith is all that matters to him. He knows who he is, he is just having a hard time finding here he belongs and is grabbing at anything or anyone for help.

And how is he supposed to know if he isn't called to the priesthood, how many rejections is he supposed to go through before he gets the hint, and then how is he supposed to be at peace with that knowledge and willing to keep following Christ after realizing he was wrong for making a decision to be willing to follow Christ as a priest.

[/quote]

I see, your question comes from personal experience.

Obviously I'm not your friend's spiritual director, so I cannot really offer specific advice. But if it were me, I'd talk to a few other Vocations Directors (from other diocese and maybe a few religious orders) and get a sense of their criteria in that regard. If I came to the point where it really seemed I needed a college degree and work experience to go forward, I'd go get a degree in theology or philosophy and get a job working for a Catholic parish as a DRE (or something of that nature).

As to the number of rejections to go through, that's a tough one and not one I can really imagine a general answer to. I've known guys who have gone down that path. It's hard. If I felt strongly about the call being from God for years and years, I cannot imagine ever giving up. Unless my spiritual director told me I was delusional or had psychological barriers. :p


#9

There is and can be no possibility of
'' If you do x y z then we'll accept you''
Because the application process is complicated and doesn't finish until the second ordination (from deacon to priest)
That's a very long process from where he is now with a big rate of attrition.


#10

Each application is treated as its own case, because that's what it is. Your bishop will ultimately make the decision, but your dialogue should be with the Vocation's Director, who is in charge of overseeing seminarians and applicants in the Diocese. If he doesn't know, he should ask the bishop, or review the Program for Priestly Formation. The only way to know for certain is to talk to him, but I can speak of norms.

An undergraduate degree is required. Most people fulfill these on their own, but there are college seminaries where one would study for a B.A. in Philosophy with other seminarians. Usually the cost of the undergraduate education is the responsibility of the individual, but I have heard in some (rare) cases of the Diocese paying for it. You mentioned time in the military, so that could help.

A work history is helpful, but not required. An assessment of the applicant's character is made by looking through all transcripts (from high school), getting references from the applicant's pastor, priests he knows, and friends; there is also a psychological evaluation that must be completed.

I cannot speak for all Vocation Directors, but most I know are fairly reasonable and eager to offer advice, including spending some time in the working world.

I apologize that I can't pinpoint an exact answer, but since each applicant is a unique individual, the requirements are flexible. It isn't a matter of going down a checklist, it's that the bishop, after thoroughly pouring over all the material presented to him, prayerfully decides what to do.

I would recommend, if you haven't read it already, to read Fr. Brett Brennan's To Save a Thousand Souls.


#11

In our diocese one of the requirements is that one must be a high school graduate (or attain equivalency) & have the ability to do college level work.

Years ago a friend of mine who was a teacher applied in our diocese. He was not accepted. Years later, he went to the Franciscan Friars at EWTN & applied there, he was not accepted either. It was very difficult experience for him but he persevered. Then a year or so later he applied at another diocese within our state & was finally accepted.

He just recently celebrated his 3rd year anniversary of ordination to the Holy Priesthood. We recently visited him & he is very happy in the diocese that he is serving.

I met a man on a retreat last year, in his '60's I think. He was a deacon at that time. He told me he was rejected when he applied for the priesthood in our diocese because of his age (he was a nurse prior to retirement) so he applied at another diocese, our neighboring state. He said at that time that he was going be ordained to Holy Priesthood this year. So, at this time maybe he is already a priest since most ordinations happen during the 1st & 2nd Sat. of June.

If there is a calling from God, He will make it happen unless the person rejects it.

It may not happen immediately but it WILL happen in God's time. If there is rejection it is because God wants faithfulness & perseverance or He wants that person to serve somewhere else, in a different diocese or in a religious community.

Or maybe the calling is to be a brother in a religious community such as the Franciscan Brothers Minor. I found this you tube video of their Novitiate rite of investiture.

youtube.com/watch?v=Rl1i_O2wVUc

franciscanbrothersminor.com/FBM/Discernment_1.html

Talk to the Vocations Director and or Spiritual Director. Ask a priest to make recommendations to the Vocation Director.

Entrust all to Our Blessed Mother Mary for she will guide, help, protect & form us according to Her Immaculate Heart.

Continue to pray, discern & be open to God's most Holy Will which are manifested even in the most ordinary tasks in our daily life.

If we are faithful to God in little things then we will be faithful in large ones.

We have to do our duties well with humility and love for God.

No one is worthy to be a priest and not everyone is called to Holy Priesthood.

It is not based on how spiritual the person is, or how much faith he has, or how holy he may be.

It is ONLY based on God's call and His desire for the person to serve Him in the ministry of the Priesthood.

God bless & praying for you and for all.


#12

As others have said, each bishop (or religious superior) is largely free to decide who they will accept for formation and the criteria which they apply will often differ between orders / dioceses. There are of course some basic requirements: at least 18 years old, single (go figure), emotionally mature and capable of undertaking university level study.

I know seminarians who have completed a degree (sometimes more than one) and worked for several years before entering the seminary. that said, I also know others who have never done a degree (or any university studies at all) but have worked for several years. I think I am right when I say that my diocese would be highly unlikely to accept anybody straight out of school - and few dioceses I know would. That said, there are exceptions to every rule - much depends on the individual!

If an applicant in applying to a diocese other than the one he lives in, the question "why" is obviously going to be asked - but again, each bishop makes their own decision and a refusal by one wouldn't necessary prevent acceptance by another, depending on the reasons. As an example I know someone who successfully applied to another diocese after being rejected by his home diocese on account of his age. Religious orders are different still, with each having its won criteria, but any order is going to ask an applicant why they are applying to that particular order - saying, "you were next on my list" probably isn't the best answer!

Finally, for John78's friend, I would advise him to get a job or undertake studies of some sort. the " struggles, hardships, misery, and torment of holding down a secular job" are what many (some would say most) people experience everyday and it is important that priests are able to relate to such struggles. Besides that, a secular job can provide a person with important experiences which help to shape them as a person. I'm not saying that it's essential - any more than a degree is - but either one can be helpful. Military experience is of course very useful but, at the same time, the military is of course a very highly organised and strict environment and that can sometimes be as much of a hindrance as a help. Again, much depends on the individual and whether their bishop considers them suitable to begin the process of priestly formation. As someone has already said, it's not a case of fulfilling set criteria but an applicant can ask their bishop or vocations director for suggestions on what they can do to help themselves become a more suitable applicant. Remember though, that it's the bishop who makes the final decision and they're unlikely to commit to accepting someone in advance.

Hope this helps.


#13

Would it be a logical to think that with out a solid work history , and a college degree, that the Catholic Church is not going to consider a man for consideration to seminary formation , no matter how strong his spiritual life is. ?

As I was reading "To Save a Thousands Souls" It mentioned that a priest has to be stable since they might stay at a church for many years

The vocation director is probably looking if your friend is can commit themselves and not be flighty

God bless!


#14

[quote="DoubtingPeter, post:13, topic:330751"]
As I was reading "To Save a Thousands Souls" It mentioned that a priest has to be stable since they might stay at a church for many years

The vocation director is probably looking if your friend is can commit themselves and not be flighty

God bless!

[/quote]

I remember reading that excellent book a few years ago. I frankly was surprised when I read that part. It's not that I don't understand the worth of having a good, solid work history. It's just that I would imagine a lot of guys who are truly called by the Lord may have been selfish, drunks, sex addicts, criminals or whatever before they found Jesus. If we disqualified anyone with a less-than-perfect past, we would be eliminating countless truly passionate Christians who may be in a unique position to minister to the many hurting souls out there, no? I think of all the great saints, many of whom did not have "the right stuff."

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Cor 1:27)

It's funny, when guys act as though they are applying for a job, they are reminded that the church must discern whether they are called and that no one has a right to be a priest. But in discernment, they may look for guys who worked at one job for ten years and got a promotion every year?

I know in evangelical circles, talking with various preachers and pastors, most have their own story of how they made a mess of their life and Jesus rescued them. I can relate and if anything, it gives me a true compassion and wisdom in ministering to those who now struggle with things I overcame.

Further, in my case, I look back at my own job history and realize I changed jobs every few years because I was either unsatisfied or seeking more money. Only now, as a christian, do I seek God's will and find satisfaction in volunteer work, telling people about Jesus or comforting the sick. If I was discerning a call, would this be held against me?

Forgive me if this is sounding like a rant. Maybe I need to go to bed! ;)


#15

It's funny, when guys act as though they are applying for a job, they are reminded that the church must discern whether they are called and that no one has a right to be a priest. But in discernment, they may look for guys who worked at one job for ten years and got a promotion every year?

I look back at my own job history and realize I changed jobs every few years because I was either unsatisfied or seeking more money. Only now, as a christian, do I seek God's will and find satisfaction in volunteer work, telling people about Jesus or comforting the sick. If I was discerning a call, would this be held against me?

Stability is an important quality - and not just because a priest might be in one parish for a number of years. They will often also be required to commit to projects in a parish (both long and short term) and provide leadership to others. At the same time, it's not necessarily demonstrated by working in the same job for 10 years (with or without a promotion each year). If a person has changed jobs every few years then a vocations director is likely to ask them why. A dubious employment history can indicate that the person is unable or unwilling to commit themselves to a task for any significant length of time. of course, it also depends on the individual circumstances. This is no different to applying for a job in the secular world and a person can demonstrate commitment in other areas, like volunteer work.

I'd also say that anyone applying to a seminary of order who believed they had "the right stuff" probably wouldn't be accepted. the risk with that sort of person is that they'd be tempted to think that they could go it alone and didn't need God's help on the journey ahead. As a friend of mine once put it: "God calls those who most need His help".


#16

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