Hello. Before I post this, please don’t say contact your vocation director and find out. I just wanna know the GENERAL time one would apply/contact seminary for diocese if you are planning on entering right out of high school. Thanks.
I think one of the reasons someone says “contact the vocation director” is because it’s a very long process. It also helps if you already have a rapport with the vocation director. If you’re in high school, I’d recommend talking to him around sophomore or junior year. You’d need to complete a background check, a clinical psychiatric exam, a medical exam, an application for the diocese, an application for the seminary, a fingerprint card, compile a full sacramental record, find several letters of recommendation, and possibly write a few letters explaining why.
Since this is expansive, it usually is done over the course of a year. Since, however, you would also be applying to a college seminary, it would be wise to try to do it around 2 years prior to your anticipated acceptance (beginning of Junior year).
That having been said, every Diocese has a unique way of doing it, so the vocation director would be the one to ask exactly what you need.
as long as you don’t wait till may to start the process you should be in good shape. I would suggest starting now if you are a senior in High School. Treat it like you would treat an application to any secular college. While from my experience you can start a seminary application much later than other colleges don’t wait to long. But if you feel like you may enter in the fall go ahead and start the process now. I can take a couple of months to finish the process.
one last thing don’t feel like applying to seminary is you signing the dotted line for going to seminary. If you have a chance of heart and decide not to enter just tell the vocations director and he will understand.
if you are not a Senior still talk to the vocations director and keep in close contact with him because he can help you further discern your call before entering seminary.
If you are considering attending a seminary out of high school your process would be to request application materials and review the dates they supply. Most high school students who plan to go on to college, whether it is a traditional university or seminary, begin the process by at least spring of their junior year. Some people want their application to be received for early acceptance and those deadlines are different from the regular application. Since you did not specify if your interest is to pursue a vocation as a priest or simply to pursue a college education provided by a seminary environment it is hard to clearly answer your question. Obviously the pathway to a vocation has some very specific benchmarks that the normal applicant to the seminary does not have to meet. I am a 62 year old grandmother who is considering attending the seminary near our home, you and I would have the same application requirements if we were both planning to study a degree in Theology or Bibilical Studies. You can always go to the web-sites of the seminary you are interested in and simply review their published material for most general answers.
It’s going to depend on the diocese, I am sorry to say (I know that’s not what you wanted to hear). Many have programs for high school students. Note this is not an application but these programs are an initial step in discernment.
If you want to check out your own diocese without committing too much at this time, you can probably find out on their website. If your diocese has a Serra group, their site would have that information as well.
I don’t know what your Diocese organization is, but here in Arkansas, the Diocese has several meetings for High School Students each year who are interested in entering the Seminary. In the past few years, they have started a new program, in which the new High School Graduate signs an “Intention for Seminary” at their Graduation, to which the Vocations Director (and sometimes the Bishop) also come. There is also a “mini-Seminary” for those just out of High School, where they live in a building (similar to a small monastery/seminary) for 1 or 2 years, some for up to 4 years. While there, they live basically as they would in Seminary, attend the local University for courses. When they have completed (usually, I think) at least 2 years of college/University courses, sometimes with Distance Learning courses direct from a Seminary (usually via computer classes), and Discernment with the Vocations Director, they are then assigned to a Seminary to study to become a Diocesan Priest. A few choose to move to a Religious Order Seminary. The House where they stay at the Diocese is supported by the entire Diocese, meaning if they do not have the money to attend University or Seminary, the Diocese provides these costs. They have a common kitchen, (and do a lot of their own cooking, too!). We also have Seminary Students (straight from High School, or college Graduates) who decide to join our Diocese from other states & even from other countries, and who also stay in this House for up to 2 years while studying Bible, Liturgy, and Spiritual Studies as well as general Liberal Arts courses required for a BA at the University. Many of their religious studies are done by Distance Learning from either St. Meinrad Seminary (in Indiana) or from the Benedictine Seminary - either the one in Oklahoma or Texas. Which Seminary they eventually attend depends on enrollment availability or on the Seminary which the student and the Vocations Director together feel fits them best. Our Seminary in Arkansas was closed quite a few years ago when vocations were very low. We are hoping we can eventually open a new, full Seminary in our State soon. There are currently about 20 - 30 students of Seminary pre-candidates staying in the House at St. John Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Each year several leave to attend a regular Seminary. The majority go to St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, but we have a large number in Texas as well. They return each year to Arkansas to meet with the Diocesan Vocations Director and the Bishop. Also, the Vocations Director visits those Seminaries each year at least 1 - 2 times to meet with those from our Diocese who are studying there. They also are allowed to visit their families in their home state, usually once a year during Seminary Studies. I think I have most of this correct, as I obtained the information from the Arkansas Catholic Newspaper, which features this program several times each year. Michigan may have a similar program. I don’t know how long it takes to obtain permission to sign up for Seminary on Graduation from High School, although I do know (from the paper’s articles) that they sign up at the time of their High School Graduation. Ask your local Parish Priest. He would certainly be familiar with the requirements and programs available in your state. God bless you in your Discernment process!
Hopefully this will help.
If I understand correctly you want to know the general time line so that you end up at the seminary the September after high school to study for the priesthood.
First off, many vocations directors like to get to know the men applying before they give them an application package. The vocations director for my diocese rarely gives out application packages before 3 good meetings. Even if you have a good relationship with your pastor, the vocations director is the one vouching for your application and he will want to get to know you first.
Now going to seminary there are three general applications you have to make. 1) for the diocese to actually study for them, 2) one to the seminary to be part of the priestly formation program, and 3) one to the academic body that will be granting your degree to determine you have the prerequisites to enter their degree program.
For the diocese I am friends with the vocations directors, normally everything has to be formalized by May 1st of the year you wish to enter. Depending on your diocese, how long you will need to get everything in order will vary. I know some people who have waited a month just to get the necessary paperwork from the parish.
General rule of thumb, AT THE VERY LATEST you want to start the application process the September before you plan on entering, i.e. the September of your grade 12 year.
Also remember, just because you want to apply, doesn’t mean the diocese is going to let you. It is at the discretion of the vocations who he starts in the process. If you do not know the vocations direction then start getting to know him. Also if you haven’t already, start getting to know your bishop and you will need to know a few priest very well so that they can send recommendation letters to the bishop.
Good Luck with all.
PS. If you haven’t read the book “To Save a Thousand Souls” pick up a copy for yourself. A lot of what I said is in that book and it may help answer future questions.
this is off topic but do you know any of the Little Rock Seminarians. More specifically guys who went to minor seminary in Louisiana?
I would recommend making contact in the first half of your junior year, if you do hope to enter the seminary/order right out of high school. The process can really take awhile, speaking from experience. Patience patience patience! "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” --St. Catherine of Siena
Ad Iesum per Mariam, frater!
Not personally, no. If you contact the Vocations Director at the Diocese of Little Rock, he can tell you where they currently are located, especially if you know them or have met them. He’s a really nice, friendly person, and would be helpful to you. He lives at the House of Formation (which is where the High School graduates stay prior to going to regular Seminaries, and is very kind). FYI, both of his nephews, his brother, and I think an Uncle also became Priests. That whole family has quite a few Priests and a couple of Religious Sisters! Very nice and very devoted Catholic family. Two of his nephews went to the House of Formation to prepare for Seminary straight out of high school last summer! Just contact Diocese of Little Rock via internet and look for the contact info for emails for “House of Formation”. (I met his oldest Uncle when I was in the hospital for surgery & that wonderful old Priest brought Communion to me, and the Anointing of the Sick as well. I think that one is now retired).