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What is a seminarian?

A seminarian is a man who is discerning the Lord's call to the ministerial Roman Catholic Priesthood. By virtue of his baptism, he is a member of the priesthood of all believers. The seminarian hears the Lord speaking to him and calling him to a fuller participation in the priesthood, by becoming a priest of Jesus Christ. While the priesthood has many elements that make it like a job, it is ultimately a vocation: a calling from the Lord. The seminarian then needs to be open to hearing the Lord's call in his life and be eager to respond to it.


A man who enters the seminary does not possess all the answers. In fact, many more questions will arise from time spent in seminary formation! Seminarians come from all walks of life, previous educational experiences, family backgrounds and parishes. They bring different talents, insights, and experiences to their time in formation. In the Program for Priestly Formation, the bishops write,

"All applicants should give witness to their conviction that God has brought them to the seminary to discern whether or not they are really called to the priesthood, and they should commit themselves wholeheartedly to carrying out that discernment.  (PPF 45)

Seminarians live in community. This means they pray together, work together, eat together, and study together. While the seminary is a place where individual men go to discern what the Lord is asking of them, ultimately as priests they will belong to a fraternity. The seeds of this brotherhood and fraternity are sown during time in seminary formation. Again, from the Program for Priestly Formation,

"The essential work of the seminary takes place in the context of community. Personal growth and character development should progress together harmoniously within a deepening spiritual life. The seminary is a school of human virtue, of growth in honesty, integrity, intellectual rigor, hard work, and tolerance, where the common good is built with solidarity and discipline—all leavened by humor and healthy enjoyment. The seminary also must be a school of spiritual growth in which seminarians are formed into men of prayer, imbued with those virtues that only grace can bring: faith, hope, and charity. The seminary should help the seminarians develop the relationship and dialogue skills necessary for healthy interpersonal relationships as priests." (PPF 260)

To gain more information about seminarians, please know that you are always welcome to visit the seminary for a personal visit or tour with the Director of Vocations.

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