Frequently Asked Questions

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A helpful way to think of your vocation is that it is God’s dream for your life. It is the path on which you will find the most fulfillment, and in the end the most joy. But God has shown us that he knows our nature, and that we will not always follow his ways (which, of course, is why he sent his son–to forgive us when we go astray). No matter what path we take, God will walk with us on the journey and at every step seek to bring us closer to him.

If a man has a calling to the priesthood, and knowingly refuses that call, he may face doubts about his choices and spend a great deal of time wondering what could have been. In the end, he may find that he regrets not answering God’s call. Nevertheless, he is certainly not condemned to a lifetime of unhappiness, and God may still use his life to work incredible goodness.

We should be thankful that we have such an understanding God, but we should take the decision to heart and prayerfully ask what God wants us to do.

Actually, priests don’t make any vows. Religious brothers and sisters do take vows, specifically the “Evangelical Counsels” of poverty, chastity, and obedience based on Matthew 19:21. Diocesan priests do not take these vows, although they strive to live them. They do, however, make promises. A diocesan priest promises that he will be obedient to the local bishop, that he will live a celibate life, and that he will pray the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours).
The man and the diocese share in the cost of seminary formation. Those in college seminary are responsible for their own tuition costs (scholarships are available), and the diocese covers room, board, insurance, and a stipend. In major seminary (pre-theology and theology) the diocese also covers the tuition costs. This amounts to about $35,000 a year per seminarian.

If a man chooses to leave the seminary for honest reasons, he is not asked to repay the diocese’s financial investment.

Finances should not keep a man from pursuing the priesthood, although it may mean that it is not the right time to pursue it. Many men enter the seminary with student loan debt, and payments on these loans can be deferred while studying (seminaries are accredited educational institutions). Other excessive debt–i.e. credit card debt–should be taken care of before entering the seminary, as the modest priest salary is intended to cover a simple life.
This is a common concern listed by those considering the priesthood, but interestingly, it is rarely listed by those who are already ordained. Seminary formation helps a man become well rounded and integrated, including with his sexuality. Celibacy is a gift from God, and a gift of the man to God. Learn more about celibacy.
This is one of the most common concerns shared with us. It’s a good concern – not because these fears are true, but because it shows an awareness of the need for God’s loving mercy! The simple truth is that no one is holy enough to be a priest (or a brother, sister, deacon, or even an ideal husband). We must all rely on Christ’s mercy and grace, and when we do, Christ acts through us (and in a special way, through priests). So while a good priest will strive to live a life of holiness, being aware of his sinfulness will only help in his ministry as he shares God’s love.

Particular vocations are permanent. This means we should be cautious before jumping in, but sometimes this caution can turn into a fear of committing.

There’s an old adage that goes, “Doing nothing is doing something.” We only have so much time to live our lives, and eventually our decisions will be “locked in” whether we made them intentionally or not. We might as well try to do them in accordance with God’s plan!

Every particular vocation involves a commitment of some type, whether you get married, dedicate yourself to the single life, join a religious order, become a deacon, or are ordained as a priest.

These days most couples don’t get married at their first meeting. They spend time getting to know each other, and eventually go through a period of engagement before offering their permanent vows. Likewise, those in priestly, religious, or diaconate formation also have the freedom–and responsibility–to change course if their discernment reveals they should. Being ordained is permanent, going to seminary isn’t.

Most importantly, none of this has to be done alone. In addition to spiritual direction and trusted advisors, if we are earnest in our desire to listen to God’s gentle voice, we can rest in the knowledge that he is guiding our steps.

Discernment is an ongoing process, even at seminary. In fact, it is quite normal for a seminary to have a few men leave every year. So, while your spiritual advisor or the Vocations Director would challenge you to make sure your decision was made prudently, for the right reasons, and with prayer, the seminarian is ultimately free to go, and is never asked to repay Diocesan expenditures for their time there.

There are few places that provide such a supportive environment for personal development. Whether you are eventually called to be a spiritual Father or not, your seminary formation will always serve you well as a man of God.

Am I called?

Determining if one is called to the priesthood can be confusing, but there are some things that help.

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Discernment Quiz

Do you have the signs and characteristics of a good candidate for the seminary?

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Stages of discernment

Where are you on the journey of discerning your vocation?

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Principles of discernment

Sometimes we need some tools to help us find the right path.

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Who is a candidate to enter seminary?

Every seminarian is different, and so are the paths that have led them there.

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Contact Us

Let us help you get the resources you need for vocations.

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