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Phillip Shifflet wrote:

Hi guys,

For the last four years I've heard a calling to the priesthood. The thing is, I don't actually know how to proceed so my questions are:

  • From the time that I graduate from high school until the point that I am ordained a priest, what are the steps involved?
  • Do I:
    • go directly into the seminary, or
    • get a college degree first, or what?

Yours in Christ,

Phillip Shifflet
California, USA

  { As a young man, if I am receiving a call to the Catholic priesthood, how should I proceed? }

Eric replied:

Hi Phillip,

I'm not sure of all the steps, but you will need a college degree (preferably in philosophy or theology). In the past, they had minor seminaries to provide education below the bachelors level but I don't think they do that anymore so you would find a college on your own and get a degree.

Then you would apply to a seminary. They may want you to first show them that you can live on your own and hold down a job for a while. You would need recommendations from your pastor and others and need to pass psychological tests. Meanwhile, you might work in a capacity for the church such as a sacristan or something like that.

In the fullness of time, if all goes well, you would enroll in the seminary formation program and start taking classes. You would be instituted into various positions of what used to be the minor orders, such as acolyte and lector until a year before your priestly ordination, then you would be ordained a transitional deacon and do an internship.

If that goes well, a year later you would be ordained a priest.

Hope this helps!


Mary Ann replied:

Hi Phillip,

Let me make a quick correction to Eric's remarks.

Minor seminaries refer to high schools, not colleges. Most seminaries want you to be in college at the seminary for Catholic philosophy and then after that, you do four years of theology.

If you happen to already have a degree, you might have to take some courses to prepare you for the theologate. During the theology years, you also have formation spiritually as well as in both canon law and ministry.

Hope this helps,

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Thanks Mary Ann,

I wasn't 100% sure of that.


Fr. Nick replied:

Dear Mike,

It is wonderful to hear that Phillip is listening and trying to respond to God's call to priesthood!

What Phillip needs to do is simply see his Pastor! The pastor will coordinate with the local bishop's office to put Phillip in touch with the Vocations Director for the diocese. He will assess where Phillip is in the discernment process, and outline a plan for him to journey toward priesthood.

Fr. Nick

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Phillip —

I think you should talk to your pastor as Fr. Nick suggested or go right to the Diocesan Vocation Director.

Seminary colleges are alive and well and serving the Church. Even if you already started college you could transfer if you wanted to.

Hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

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