Seminary Life

What is life in an eight year seminary like? I know that you go to daily mass and Sunday mass. But what else. What are the normal classes you would take? Cannon Law, Latin, Math? Thanks In Advance.

In Christ,
Zachary Pfantz

I can only tell you about minor (college) seminary.

You get a B.A. in Philosophy. It’s about 30 hours of Philosophy and 15 hours of Theology and then general education requirements, which means science, math, psychology, sociology, and so on. You really won’t be taking Canon Law in minor seminary, and as far as language’s go it’s really up to the diocese or order that you’re with. Some put emphasis on Spanish, some let you take whatever, few make you take Latin.

You have Spiritual direction and Character formation meetings about every other week. You’ll pray at least Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) in common, maybe Matins (Office of Readings). Any of the other hours are usually said by yourself, and are not required at this level, though they are strongly suggested. Some seminary’s are joined with a secular university (Catholic of course), some are run by religious orders, and some are run by the diocese.

Hopefully that helps, your diocese or a local priest can also help answer some questions. Anything particular you’d like to know?

The above poster summed up generally what to expect.

In regards to languages, some seminaries in Canada may have you learn French. Seminaries in the UK, may also want to teach you Scots Gaelic and Welsh, though not likely. In Ireland…I don’t know if the one seminary teaches Gaelic.

If you attend an FSSP or ICRSS or any other seminary which uses the TLM, you may receive the minor orders first.

You wouldn’t be doing any math or science. Seminary is theology, philosophy, Church history, etc. You wouldn’t be learning anything there like math since that has nothing to do with the Priesthood.

It varies, diocese to diocese. (In other words, your diocese’s vocation department would have a more accurate answer for you.)

In general, though, there are two phases: first, you study philosophy. if you already have a college degree, this first phase tends to take two years; if you don’t, then you usually get a bachelor’s in philosophy.

The second phase is the study of theology. you earn an M. Div., or an S.T.B., or perhaps an M.A.

Your bishop might send you to different places for these two, or you might be assigned to the same place for both. If you want some more details about priestly formation, read the Program for Priestly Formation.

In addition to prayer and study, there are usually opportunities for pastoral experience; these types of experience vary by seminary.



(edited to add URL for the PPF…)

Umm… that’s not true.

If you’re working on a B.A. in Philosophy, your college will likely have general education requirements. Among these, naturally, will be math and/or science requirements, language requirements, literature requirements, and all the normal other stuff.

Of course, you wouldn’t major in math or science.

Actually, you’d be surprised :stuck_out_tongue: Some seminaries do require that math or science is taught, even though it’s not a requirement for the Priesthood. I think it’s more or less a course to do so that you can keep your skills for solving equations, and basic scientific theory.

As a couple others have already said, this is not true. I imagine there are some exceptions, although I don’t really know, but I am quite sure that the “general education” of college seminarians follows a Liberal Arts curriculum. Which would, in fact, involve math and science, along with literature, history, and maybe some music. And probably some language.

Perhaps you’re thinking about seminaries for Religious orders? I don’t know if they would be different or not. But at least for diocesan priesthood, they study a wide range of subjects, although they major in philosophy (in college seminary). Priests should not only be well grounded in philosophy/theology but since their congregation features wide ranges of intelligence and subjects, it is important to be conversant and have a well-rounded education.

Someone may correct me if I am wrong, but I believe in major seminary you only study theology. Or at least, if it’s not wholly theology, it is much more focused on theology and pastoral work rather than anything else.

Minor Seminary is HS level…though I think there are less minor seminaries here in the US. In the Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic…there are minor (HS) seminaries.

A major seminary, as far as I know, starts at freshman college. First you would be taking an AB course, mainly philosophy. After your AB, a seminarian would take up Theology…which is akin to taking a master’s degree.

If one entering a seminary already has an AB degree in phil…then he would start at theology, though I think it may take longer than 4 years because of additional spiritual formation required.

In the United States, minor seminary begins at freshman year of college. Major seminary is where theology is studied, in other words, after the degree in Philosophy is finished.

Perhaps I’ve been wrong all this time, but I’m quite sure college (philosophy) is known as minor, and theology is known as major.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter that much what you call it…but there you go.

I believe when high school seminaries were more common, those were what we called minor seminary, but as HS seminaries I think are nearly nonexistent now, so really college is now minor seminary.

As for entering seminary having already attained a degree in Philosophy, it probably depends on where you did your philosophy. But I don’t know if that matters. I think in the documents pertaining to priestly formation, (PPF and another I can’t recall the name of), it states that you need 6 years of formation. So maybe they would enter pre-theology - seminarians take up to two years of that depending on where they are in their formation, and then do their 4 years of theology.

But you don’t have to go to college. You would go to Minor Seminary, which is different.

In the US, you must have a bachelor’s degree before you can enter “major seminary”.
30 credit hours must be philosophy & 12 must be theology.

From the Program of Priestly Formation

  1. Theologates must require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
    from an accredited institution. Sufficient education in philosophy, which
    the Code of Canon Law states as a biennium,37 is understood in the United
    States to be at least 30 semester credit hours, plus the out-of-classroom
    work associated with each credit hour traditionally expected in American
    higher education. A minimum of 12 semester credit hours is required
    in appropriate courses of undergraduate theology. (The content of such
    courses is outlined in norms 178 and 179 under “Intellectual Formation—
    College Seminaries: Norms.”)

I know 2 men who entered the diocesean priesthood in their 30’s.
Both had Master’s degrees. One actually had 2. One in business administration and the other in history & political science.
Neither of them had the required credit hours in philosophy or theology and spent 5 semesters back in school full time to meet the requirement.

A minor seminary schooling, is essentially a school and subject to whatever requirements of the State or Fed Dept of education. The degree will need gov’t recognition…so the curriculum will need to follow the same requirements for a regular state or private college.

Yes…I think there is pre-theology…prior to taking up theology…it allows a seminarian to catch up with those who started as freshmen.

I think there may be subjects only seminarians take, that a regular college student does not take…plus learning Latin is still a requirement.

I recall a story…in China…which was isolated for years under communism…when communism sort of opened up, a Vatican rep was able to talk to an old chinese priest…in Latin.

But seminary colleges, as I mentioned above, have basically a Liberal Arts curriculum, which will require not only philosophy and theology but other subjects as well.

If you took only philosophy and theology, minor seminary wouldn’t take 4 years.

From what I can see from the site, the F.S.S.P. don’t have such classes. They don’t require going to college beforehand, and it only lasts seven years, instead of the usual eight. And even then, the first year is spent on spirituality and forming you to the life, so you only do school for six years. Quite a good plan if you ask me. No more equations and cells for the rest of my life…

Seminary is not just studies, otherwise it would be called college.

The spiritual and pastoral formation is mainly out of the classroom and varies a lot by diocese or community. For instance, as a Legionary, I went out and ran youth clubs for 4 years between philosophy and theology.

As far as studies, theology in Rome is only three years but it is intense (20 credit hours most semesters).

As far as math, literature, and things beyond pastoral, philosophy, and theology. Think of the souls you are called to save! A priest needs to have at least a basic grasp of other things to reach souls.

Studies can vary in religious communities: for instance we do an AA (I think the title is religious studies and classical humanities) over a two year novitiate and one year of humanities, then we do an intense two-year philosophy program. However, few communities have the resources to do this all in-house like we do.

Going to seminary is giving your time to God, so one needs to give generously.

I’ll give generally, but I don’t like liberal arts colleges. If you go to college to become an historian, you’ll be doing algebra and science for two years. That’s a waste of time in my eyes. I came there to learn about history, not to get knowledge in everything. Besides, the FSSP don’t do this.

OK, that’s what I expected - our “disagreement” is due to you talking about a specific order, and I/others are talking about diocesan priesthood. For some reason I got the impression the OP was talking about diocesan, but who knows; now he has both perspectives. :thumbsup:

I’ll give generally, but I don’t like liberal arts colleges. If you go to college to become an historian, you’ll be doing algebra and science for two years. That’s a waste of time in my eyes. I came there to learn about history, not to get knowledge in everything. Besides, the FSSP don’t do this.

Hmmm…I think you have much to learn if you think going to a liberal arts college is a waste of time. You should find out (from someone more knowledgeable than me) why getting a liberal arts education can be and is very beneficial.

I would disagree. A good deal of Catholic Colleges, and Universities also are Liberal Art Colleges. Liberal Arts Colleges (Catholic ones) like to say we don’t just prepare a person for a job, but for learning how to become a better person… Also the current leader of the FSSP went to a Liberal Arts College (Thomas Aquinas in California). So I think he’d disagree that a Liberal Arts College is a waste of time…

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