The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, California
Office of Vocations - 2110 Broadway - Sacramento, CA 95818 - considerpriesthood@scd.org

The Process

How does someone become a priest?

First he must spend time in prayer and growing in relationship with God, and then he must contact a vocations director. The application process for either a diocese of religious order then takes place. If the man is accepted as a candidate for the priesthood then he will undergo a physiological evaluation and lastly be interviewed by the seminary. Once he has been accepted into a seminary he is a full-fledged seminarian and the process begins in earnest.

Every seminarian must have a Bachelor’s degree and study two years of philosophy. If you have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree then you just study philosophy in a program called Pre-Theology. If you need to complete your Bachelor’s degree then you attend a college seminary and earn an undergraduate degree in philosophy. For the undergrad student the two years of philosophy are part of his college years. After the philosophy requirement is done you go on to study theology at the graduate level. This is a four year program and usually in the middle you spend one year as a pastoral intern working in a parish. All told it takes 7-9 years to become a priest.

Is all this education necessary?

Priests are given the responsibility of caring for souls, which has eternal consequences for both the priest and the parishioner. A doctor studies to care for your body and still goes through an equal amount of time to become a doctor. Is it not fitting that a priest should have at least as much training? Also, the seminary is not just a school, but a place where one is formed to have a heart like that of our Lord, the Great High Priest.

What are the qualities that the Church looks for in a candidate for the Priesthood?

A man who loves God and the Church, goes to Mass regularly, spends time in prayer and wishes to grow in holiness. He should be physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. He should be willing to grow, learn, and to be formed. Formation, the process of becoming a priest, is basically learning to “decrease so that He may increase”.

If I decided to go to the seminary to “give it a try” am I committed for life?

No, you are not committed until you are ordained. In the seminary you get a small taste of priestly life and are in an environment which is conducive to discerning. Men who enter the seminary and then leave have not wasted their time. Rather they are able to be better Catholic men, husbands, and fathers. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

 

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