Future Priest?


#1

Hello all,

I have always wanted to help the Church, ever since I was a little boy. Where I am now, in my life, I believe that I have a received a calling to the priesthood. Not just 'received', but its something that has been really developing in me for awhile now.

After watching the most recent media debacle, it hurt me personally. I want to become a priest. I kind of want to spill into a grandiose tirade about how the Church needs strong leaders, etc., but any good Catholic probably already has enough of this in their heart without my soapbox oratory :blush:

So, I have a few questions that I hoped a few of you could help me out with:

  1. Firstly, what is the best seminary in the United States for combining serious academics with relatively traditional priestly formation (e.x., Gregorian chant, Tridentine rite, strong Latin/Greek studies, etc.)? Personal experience and anecdotal advice welcome.

  2. I currently attend a New England liberal arts college with a relatively formidable reputation. The cost of attendance, however, has become prohibitive, and I need just 1.75 credits to graduate (my degree is Philosophy) --would it be better just to get in touch with my diocese/prospective seminary now or to spend 10k taking the 1.75 credits over the summer.

2a. Speaking of prohibitive costs: If I have debt attached to my name (i.e., student loan debt) will this bias my candidacy for the priesthood?

  1. Please don't think that I am a sick weirdo, but I sympathize with SSPX and traditionalist Catholicism. If I attend their US seminary in Winona, MN, will this dead-end my academic career? Do they ever send any of their priests for graduate studies at the Pontifical institutes and universities?

I am not as interested in substituting FSSP as an alternative, but I would be willing to join the (pardon me, if I mislabel this...) Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest... so I am wondering if the clergy of the Institute would be available for further academic study?

  1. I don't think that I would perform poorly in pastoral work, but I find the priesthood's evangelical function more attractive. Are there any well-established 'missionary' [secular] orders? If you have a few names in mind, please tell me how their reputations differ. So far, I've only looked into the Jesuits (not secular, I believe) and the PIME missionary order.

4a. Would it be possible to join the seminary as a diocesan priest, and then after I attend the Pontifical institute/university, I can join a secular missionary order? Or will I still be at the disposal of my Bishop?

  1. What is the most useful degree to get, if I am looking at graduate/study-abroad in Rome? I am very interested in Canon Law, as well as Theology, and my amateurish interest in both has lead me to read several volumes. I have also dabbled in Patristics, Comparative Liturgical study, etc.. So I am wondering which would be the best for a career in the Church?

5a. What sort of non-pastoral jobs are available to the diocesan clergy? Also, what degrees/education would I need in order to make these jobs accessible to me?

Thank you so much!
JS5


#2

First thought: with only 1.75 credits to go, finish your degree! That is so important to have a degree in hand as you move forward, because a) If you apply to seminary, they probably require you to have a bachelor's degree. To do graduate work, you need a bachelor's first. b) There is no guaratee that your pursuit of the priesthood will result in ordination. The discernment works both ways, and it may turn out that you decide or the Church decides that you do not have a calling. You would then have your degree to fall back on.

Second thought: you have many good and important questions. You need authoritative answers, not guesses from people on the internet whose qualifications tho answer correctly are close to nil. Contact your diocesan Vocations Director!


#3

Also, it is not really your decision what “job” you get as a priest or if you can go on for further education. That is a decision that the Bishop or if you are a religious, the Superior makes. i know priests who wanted to go for further study but the bishop said no. I know priests who just wanted to be pastors but the bishop put them in diocesan positons and I know priests who want to be in diocesan positions but were made pastors instead. You promise obedience to the bishop at ordination so most of the time, while you may have a say in what you would like, it is up to the bishop to put a priest where he needs him.


#4

Unfortunately, you often cannot choose the seminary, as dioceses and religious orders frequently their own. However, from what I have read, Boston College, which is Jesuit, the Dominican House of Studies(though I am not sure as to whether or not they accept non-Dominicans) and Catholic University of America are probably the best in the US, from what I have read. All three are pontifical institutions(with Boston simultaneously the S.T.B. with the M.Div.), and the latter(C.U.A.) has the authority to grant canon law degrees. Also, St. Paul University seems to have the leading seminary in Canada, though St. Augustine Seminary and Regis College(also Jesuit) at the University of Toronto are also pontifical. I think that you need to be really need to be fluent in French in order to attend Laval.


#5

]

Thank you for your fair and honest advice.

I was hesitant to contact my diocese vocations director because I am not sure if I want to enter the diocesan clergy, yet.


#6

Thank you for your effort; I’ve received this point.

If I do enter the diocesan clergy, I will happily follow the dictates of my bishop.

However, if you read my entire post, I was more interested in someone being able to tell me what academic steps I should take in order to improve my ability to perform different jobs–also, I was interested in what jobs specifically priests end up filling.


#7

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:4, topic:194291"]
Unfortunately, you often cannot choose the seminary, as dioceses and religious orders frequently their own. However, from what I have read, Boston College, which is Jesuit, the Dominican House of Studies(though I am not sure as to whether or not they accept non-Dominicans) and Catholic University of America are probably the best in the US, from what I have read. All three are pontifical institutions(with Boston simultaneously the S.T.B. with the M.Div.), and the latter(C.U.A.) has the authority to grant canon law degrees. Also, St. Paul University seems to have the leading seminary in Canada, though St. Augustine Seminary and Regis College(also Jesuit) at the University of Toronto are also pontifical. I think that you need to be really need to be fluent in French in order to attend Laval.

[/quote]

Thank you, I've been looking for this answer for ages!


#8

[quote="JohnSanzone5, post:7, topic:194291"]
Thank you, I've been looking for this answer for ages!

[/quote]

You are welcome; I hope that it was accurate and specifically sufficient.


#9

As for myself, I intend to become a religious(probably mendicant) priest and am likewise interested in possibly aquiring a J.C.L.(hopefully, I will be allowed to do so). St. Paul and C.U.A. both grant that degree, but I really want to attend either the Angelicum(O.P.), Gregorianum(S.I.), or Lateranum(secular) in Rome. The thought of living in a completely different country(I know that Ontario is in Canada, but you know what I mean!) fascinates me, not to mention that Rome(a magnificent old city that is very hot in summer) is where the Pope resides.


#10

Several things:

1:Do you have a spiritual director and have you contacted the Vocation Director? You can’t discern the priesthood without the Church.

2:You usually don’t have a choice in seminaries. Sometimes a diocese will allow you to look at the seminaries they use but in the end the Bishop has the final say where you go.

3:Your student loans shouldn’t matter too much with seminary as you can pay it off when you get out of school.

4:I’m not sure what going to an SSPX seminary would do but you better ask your Vocation Director.

5:When you go to seminary you will go to get a Masters of Divinity, although some offer Masters of Theology and I think you can work on both at the same time. I don’t think it’s your choice how much schooling you get but if you are in the top of your class then your diocese may send you to Rome to get a doctorate.

God bless, I’ll be praying for you


#11

Thank you, sir/ma’am for the helpful answers!

Just, if I can get some clarification on some of these:

  1. Is it usual for a bishop to acquiesce to a potential seminarian’s preferred choice for seminary?

  2. For loans, is it possible to pay off loans (probably <40k) while I am a priest?

  3. What is the difference between M.Div and M.Theo degrees? I have google’d and wiki’ed both, several times, but I have not been able to find the real ‘scoop’ on how they’re different. Anyone care to explain? Also, is there any chance to study canon law during this period?


#12

Most Bishops I’ve heard of usually will go with the seminary that you are most comfortable with, but remember the Bishop will give you a few seminaries. Sometimes a Bishop will only send his seminarians to one seminary so there wouldn’t be a choice. Also, bishops like to send their students closer rather than farther as they pay for you to get there.

Yes, it’s possible to pay off the debt after you become a priest. I know a seminarian right now who has a lot of school debt but he’s going to be paying it off when he becomes a priest.

I think that with a Master of Theology you get more theology classes but I’m really not sure. I just know that usually you go for a Master of Divinity. I’m pretty sure you have to wait to study Canon Law but again I’m not quite sure, have obedience to your Bishop and follow what he says.

I’m also discerning the priesthood and have two more years of school before I can go into the seminary. But some advice I would give is to visit a seminary nearby. Go on discernment retreats and get in touch with the seminarians in your diocese.

God bless

Jeff


#13

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:9, topic:194291"]
As for myself, I intend to become a religious(probably mendicant) priest and am likewise interested in possibly aquiring a J.C.L.(hopefully, I will be allowed to do so). St. Paul and C.U.A. both grant that degree, but I really want to attend either the Angelicum(O.P.), Gregorianum(S.I.), or Lateranum(secular) in Rome. The thought of living in a completely different country(I know that Ontario is in Canada, but you know what I mean!) fascinates me, not to mention that Rome(a magnificent old city that is very hot in summer) is where the Pope resides.

[/quote]

Hello,
I find this very interesting. How old are you // how far along in the process, if you don't mind my asking? I've gone over some of your posts, and it seems we share some positions.

I am very interested in the Roman universities and institutes--it seems like a great experience for formation. Especially the Gregorianum (the one run by SoJ, if my research is correct).

I have also wondered--if a seminarian is allowed to obtain his JCL, what is the procedure to get the JCD? Also, I have seen JCL/JCD coupled with civil degrees in the law--I am wondering how difficult it is to persuade your Church superiors to let you get these?


#14

I'm 20 years old and have been discerning for several years but I haven't gotten serious in my discernment until the past 8 months or so. Right now I'm really trying to discern where God is calling me to become a priest. I have moved around a lot so I don't have any real connection to any particular diocese. There is a group in Virginia called the Youth Apostles which I feel very close to and I'm thinking about becoming a member of the Youth Apostles when I finish school and can move to Virginia, then become a priest. I have a calling to work with high school and college age kids and that's where they focus so I would really like to do that but I'm still not sure.

I've visited a seminary a few weeks back and it was a wonderful experience. It was very traditional and conservative going by Church teachings 100%.

I'm not sure how to get a degree in Canon Law but it would be up to the Bishop. The thing I've learned about the priesthood is to not rush things. Let the Church decide where you go.

Well, I need to get back to homework but I'll send you a pm later. God bless


#15

I am in a similar situation, having spent a third of my life (the last 7 years) in boarding school, early college, and college–so it is difficult to determine which diocese I would report to for vocations. Currently, I am thinking (if I do end up going diocesan) to use my home diocese (a suburb of NY) to allow me to go to St. Joseph’s seminary in NYC. It seems very large and cosmopolitan, so I think I will have a better experience there in terms of my formation.

At the same time, I also feel like I might be ‘missing out’ if I go diocesan and then am chained to a parish for a period, when I might be better suited to missionary, administrative, or scholarly work for the Church. It certainly is a tough decision, and its difficult to learn about the opportunities in the Church from the internet–making me inclined to agree with you as to your advice: to find a vocations director.


#16

[quote="JohnSanzone5, post:15, topic:194291"]
I am in a similar situation, having spent a third of my life (the last 7 years) in boarding school, early college, and college--so it is difficult to determine which diocese I would report to for vocations. Currently, I am thinking (if I do end up going diocesan) to use my home diocese (a suburb of NY) to allow me to go to St. Joseph's seminary in NYC. It seems very large and cosmopolitan, so I think I will have a better experience there in terms of my formation.

[/quote]

St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island are planning on merging. It still is to be determined which campus will house the seminary.


#17

[quote="Joannm, post:16, topic:194291"]
St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island are planning on merging. It still is to be determined which campus will house the seminary.

[/quote]

Thanks for the info!

I've actually been semi-in-touch with their Vocations office, and I recently saw a video of urban explorers who had broken into a seemingly abandoned facility at Dunwoodie--I was very shocked (not just as a Catholic), because I wondered who I had been receiving e-mails from! A ghost!?


#18

Thank you. I am in my early twenties and a junior in college. One has to already have a M.Div. or a more or less equivalent degree in order to be admitted to a graduate canon law program. I obviously cannot tell how difficult it would be to gain permission to study for a J.C.D.(one, of course, needs to have already obtained the licentiate), but one might be able to study part-time for a J.D.(Anglo-American common law; though it is at the undergraduate level in the U.K.), and C.U.A. seems to offer an only-summers(5 years) track for a J.C.L. I admit that I do not really know that much about degrees in civil law. Also for the record, the best seminary in the W U.S. is probably the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara.


#19

Two further points of interest, if I could get some online feedback, are:

(1) What–specifically–are the jobs available for the diocesan priest, besides pastor/curate? I mean like a semi-exhaustive list. Would be great if anyone knew this.
(2) Whether orders with Ecclesia Dei charisms (ex: FSSP and Institute of Christ the Sovereign King Priest) offer M.Div or the licentiate degree… or any degree at all for that matter?

I am planning to get in touch with a diocese soon, in order to find a Director, but it would be great to get an idea beforehand.

Thanks!


#20

[quote="JohnSanzone5, post:19, topic:194291"]
Two further points of interest, if I could get some online feedback, are:

(1) What--specifically--are the jobs available for the diocesan priest, besides pastor/curate? I mean like a semi-exhaustive list. Would be great if anyone knew this.
(2) Whether orders with Ecclesia Dei charisms (ex: FSSP and Institute of Christ the Sovereign King Priest) offer M.Div or the licentiate degree... or any degree at all for that matter?

I am planning to get in touch with a diocese soon, in order to find a Director, but it would be great to get an idea beforehand.

Thanks!

[/quote]

I think a lot depends upon his further education and gifts. For example, he could be director of the following chancery offices: Worship, Propagation of the Faith or mission office, chancellor, tribunal judge, director of priest personnel, vocations director, teach in the diocesan seminary if there is one; then there are committee positions that are often given to priests who are also in parishes. Also a lot depends on the diocese. If there are not enough priests for parishes, some of these positions are given to religious or laity who are well qualified.


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