Holy Orders


Hi all.

Hypothetically, say that you were called to become a priest–specifically a diocesan priest, would it matter what diocese you enter?

Is it simply whatever diocese you prefer? Where you grew up? Does it matter in terms of formation (since some dioceses are better than others)?

I know it is often the case that men will enter into seminary of the state/region they grew up, and I suppose that makes the most sense. Your efficiency as a pastor will be all the more since you know the area.

This is more a question of curiosity. Could there be more to choosing a diocese than just locality?



Typically a seminarian is expected to have some sort of connection to and familiarity with the diocese before he is accepted. As a priest he will be expected to serve the people of that diocese and so it’s important that he feels a connection to it. In this way, a diocesan priest is different to a member of a religious order whose connection is to that order and its charisms. Upon ordination as a deacon, he will be incardinated into that diocese which basically means that he is bound to it and to its bishop unless the bishops agrees to release him (and he can find another diocese or order to accept him).

For some people the diocese they apply to is the one where they grew up. For others it may be where they have spent some time working or studying, while for others still it may be where they found their calling or feel called to serve. I know of one English priest who was baptised in Poland while working there but felt called to serve the Church in England since he felt that there was a greater need for priests there than in Poland. Other factors, such as where a man’s family lives, age restrictions, or preference for rural over urban (or urban over rural) may also play a part in the decision. Ultimately, the choice comes down to discernment which for some is straight-forward but for others less so.

The decision shouldn’t be based on perceptions of the formation in one diocese being better than that of another. All priests receive more or less the same formation and there’s no such thing as a perfect seminary.


And let’s not forget that this discernment takes place both on the part of the potential seminarian and the diocese! A man doesn’t just say “I’m going to be a seminarian of diocese X” – he enters into a dialogue with the diocese and, at an appropriate time, is invited to apply to become a seminarian of that diocese… :wink:


InThePew had a very good response. I just wanted to relay my personal experience. I grew up in the Diocese of Wichita (KS). Went far away to college (Florida), and upon graduating, began working in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (MO). I knew I wanted to apply to seminary, but did not want to apply to KC-St. Joe because I suppose I feel more called to serve in my home state, but I also did not want to apply to Wichita because they were a good deal further away currently. So I am actually applying now with Kansas City-Kansas for practical reasons, despite not knowing really anything about the diocese. However, both of my parents grew up in there, both attended Kansas University, and I actually had two great-uncles who were/are priests in the diocese…plus, I have an uncle and two aunts who live in that diocese. So I guess it still comes down to connections with the diocese, because I probably would not have been allowed to apply with them if I didn’t have those relatives connections.


There are some people who look at the shortage of priests and suppose that a Diocese would be eager to accept candidates without a lot of consideration. This is not true.

The Vocation Director of the Diocese will interview a candidate carefully to determine if he feels the candidate has a legitimate vocation. The motives of the candidate will be explored in depth. A priest who applies to a Diocese to which he has little or no personal connection will raise flags, but is not a cause for categorical denial.

In many Dioceses, the candidate is expected to already hold a four-year college degree, but the Diocese will pay part/most/all of his seminary training (which confers Masters Degrees). This can be a considerable investment for the Diocese (often six years of instruction). And it’s not unusual for candidates to drop out before Ordination.

In past years, candidates signed contracts to reimburse some portion of the cost should he drop out. This was a bad idea - it encouraged men to conceal their lost sense of vocation and continue onto a ministry that they were unfit for.

So the Diocese takes all of the risk if a candidate drops out. It is financially incumbent on the Diocese to select only men whose vocations appear legitimate, so this is one reason that their motives will be carefully scrutinized.


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