Should I go to University or Seminary first!?


Hey guys, just became a member to these forums. I am a 17-year-old male in 11th grade who is currently living in Toronto, Canada. Let’s just say I have a vocation to the priesthood. In short, I have a strong desire to administer the sacraments, consecrate the hosts, stand for the truth against this chaos that is going on in the church, especially North America, and a personal desire to become a saint, whether canonized or not by the church. I want to lead the Lord’s flock of sheep to heaven as well. Anyways, recently I have been seriously deciding whether I should go to University or seminary first after high school. I would go to University for my parents because they want all of their children to go to University (3 other siblings) and I would go to University to do something I am interested in (computer science or business). I also do not know whether I should go to seminary first. Regardless of where I go first, I am going to become a priest, and nothing will stop me. My spiritual director (a strong orthodox man who was a priest, but got dispended by his bishop because he was seriously ill) recommends me to go to University first because that is what he did and it really helped him out in the priesthood. He also told me if I were to go down this route, I need to go to a strong Catholic University and, or, join a group such as Opus Dei, so my vocation would not be led astray by the secular world in University. If you guys have some thoughts to offer, it would be greatly appreciated!


Seminarian here. You should go where you are called. If you’re adamant about seminary and believe that God may be calling you to the priesthood (and you feel mature enough), you should go straight into college seminary. Even though it’s not a normal university, you’ll still end up with a bachelor’s degree (in philosophy). Definitely don’t do anything just to appease your parents. If I were you, I’d talk more with a spiritual director and your diocese’s vocation director. They would be able to help you much better than we could.

EDIT: but if your spiritual director thinks that you should go to university first, take that into consideration. He knows you better than we do.


If you really feel called to go to seminary do it. If you are staying in Canada you have only two choices (I think) Christ the King in BC and St. Peter’s in London.

I too was faced with the same dilemma in the 1980’s and went the seminary route. I did three years and then left. They were great years that truly benefitted my discernment. I made the right choice.

Go where you fell God is leading you.


Hi David, first of all, welcome to the forums :slight_smile:
Regarding your post, why not get your Philosophy and/or Theology degrees in University first before starting Seminary? Should give you an edge. Or you could study what you want in University first and then decide whether or not to enter the Seminary. If I were you, I would do the latter. A wise Priest I knew told an aspiring Priest to finish his studies first. Plus, it gives you time to contemplate further as to whether you really want to be a Priest, or whether some other career is more appealing. This is coming from a high school recent graduate so my knowledge may be limited.


Today, I believe most seminaries want men to go into seminary with a bachelor degree in hand already! I would suggest that you consider a bachelor degree that would be beneficial to the church i.e. degrees in business, or psychology. I don’t believe it is necessary to go to a Catholic College however I would recommend that you join the college’s Newman’s Club or join a strong Catholic Young Adult group! If you were to come to the Boston area for college, I’d suggest attending St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine!


If I had to do it all over again, I would go straight through a pontifical school and get an STD (doctorate in scared theology) and a JCD (doctorate of canon law) in this way, as a candidate called to a religious vocation or the priesthood, you would be a formidable addition to any diocese or order in any capacity. And all the time get a good spiritual director; Opus Dei directors and their daily mediitations are an enriching challenge and very down to earth.


Tbh I tend to agree with your spiritual director. Having entered the priesthood after university and several years working I don’t regret for a moment not entering the seminary earlier - even though I was super keen to enter earlier. The experience I’ve had of life from university and working have been incredibly valuable for my priestly life as well as for me as a person.

One thing I would say though is that the secular world is where a priest (particularly a diocesan priest) is called to be and to minister because that’s where the people are. Given this, it isn’t something which you should treat as needing to be avoided despite its temptations and distractions because it’s where you’ll be as a priest.


I’m sorry, but this right here doesn’t make sense to me. If he’s going to major in Philosophy and/or Theology, then might as well go to the Seminary, because they receive a Bachelor’s in Philosophy.

If you go to a regular university, it would make more sense to get a degree in something like business or management, which could help a priest learn some business skills used to run a parish.


Hello OP.

Speak to your vocations director. However, my personal recommendation would be to follow your heart. If you think you are being called to the Seminary, go. Sounds like your parents want you to receive a bachelor’s degree.

If you go to the seminary, you will earn one (assuming you go at least 4 year) in Philosophy. If you leave the seminary before finishing your bachelor’s degree, you will have a number of credits to transfer to the university.

And if you leave the seminary after you finish your Bachelor’s at the seminary, you could easily get a master’s in almost anything. A philosophy degree program is an awesome program to teach you how to reason and think.

So my point: I don’t think you can go wrong either way, but I would follow your heart and there are no negatives regarding the priesthood.

BTW - here is another way to look at it… Let’s say you really wanted to be a engineer (instead of a priest). Would you parents expect you to major in something else, like business? No, they would encourage you to pursue a degree in engineering.

Sounds like you are really set on becoming a priest. So there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t join the seminary and start training for that vocation. Just like someone who really wanted to be an engineer wouldn’t first go to college to study something else first.

God Bless!


Canada has more seminaries than 2…


I once heard that studying Philosophy and/or Theology would give them a good head start should they want to enter Seminary. Apologies if it’s incorrect information.


I am just an ordinary person not a seminarian or anything but I am just commenting to say, dont underestimate the lure of ordinary university life so be very careful in your choice, even if you go to a Catholic university you may come under temptation there. Still, what is important is God’s will in all this. I agree see the vocations director and speak to your spiritual director again. His opinion matters though it is concerning he says his choice is because it worked well for him, though this may be just how I am hearing it. I’m sure he knows you best to decide what is best for you and what God is leading you to, most importantly. It may be best to do the seminary first to see what learning you need along the way. Perhaps you can enquire into this? I agree with the person who said don’t do something just to please your parents, it’s likely they are just thinking what is best for you and will adapt once you show/tell them what God wants for you. I spoke to the mother of a priest at his silver jubilee recently and she was so pleased we thanked her for him, she just wanted to know he’d helped people and we said …are you joking, he makes such a difference in people’s lives…we were all in tears. It had never occurred to me to thank her, it was my friend who went over to tell her what a joy her son was and thank her for letting him go. He is one of the best priests I have ever met and hundreds of people talk of him, she never knew. He now trains other priests.


Is does indeed: Grande Seminaire de Montreal, St. Joseph in Edmonton and St. Augustine in Toronto. But if you are looking “pre-theology” there are only two - the ones I cited.


I would recommend you to choose what you are ready for - and which you truly want to. You need motivation to be able to do well in most classes either way, so you might as well start with choosing the one you actually want to attend.

I wish you the best, and it´s really great to hear about a guy like you, at your age, having such beautiful thoughts about how you want to live your life. That´s just really amazing! God´s grace are already working within you and giving you the desire to strive after such a way to live your life.

I myself am a girl turing 17 this spring, and I don´t have a lot experience with discerning vocations etc. but I would definitely recommend you to follow your heart. Follow the calling that God gives you, but in the right manner, right way, and at the right time. Try not to either rush or slow anything :slight_smile:

God bless you!


Hi David-1578,

If you end up deciding to attend university prior to seminary, you should look into Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in northern Ontario. They offer a three year Bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies (which, obviously, is quite applicable to being a priest), and if you think being well-connected is important, the College is most definitely the place to go to get connections to Catholics all over Canada.

The academics are challenging, but very orthodox and, as an alumna of the school, I can say with certainty that the studies changed my life. The profs are brilliant and, for the most part, rather entertaining. There are all sorts of opportunities for growth in the spiritual life: daily Mass, confession, spiritual direction, retreats, etc. Check it out if you have a chance, or message me for more details. :slight_smile:

All the best!


Yeah, but that’s what they study as undergrads in the seminary. So it kind of doesn’t make sense. Why get a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from a secular university when they can get a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the seminary?

I would agree with you if he was turned down for the seminary or if he was set on joining a religious order, but still wasn’t sure which one.


Thanks for the info:

To the OP and others who might not know: “pre-theology” is when the seminarian receives an Undergrad degree from college or university before entering the seminary.

Seminarians who go to college seminary doesn’t have to attend “pre-theology”

God Bless


You will be discerning your vocation until the day that you may be ordained. I would plant this idea, to pick up a practical undergrad degree in engineering (for example). This way, you have a “fall back” education if you decide not to finish the seminary.

Public universities can be a threat to your faith, just because of the socially toxic environment there. I saw a couple people change their plans during even the first term of college.

There are many routes of study – stay practical. Studying classical languages may be “practical” for later study in the seminary, the same as studying an engineering field.

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