The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, California
Office of Vocations - 2110 Broadway - Sacramento, CA 95818 -

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.


  1. hi brother in christ,
    This is John bosco from South India want to become priest and my age is 31 and I finished Degree in Computer Science Engineering.
    I don’t know what to do please help me, Waiting for your reply……..

    In Christ: John Bosco

  2. Dear John,

    The first two steps are to talk to your parish priest and then the Vocations Director for your diocese. Also it is very good you attend Mass often and visit the Blessed Sacrament.

  3. Greetings in Christ!
    I am a graduate of philosophy from a seminary and wanting to pursue theological studies form your local diocese.To whom I may contact with? or Do you have any email address? Moreover, Am I qualified in serving on your local diocese?
    Hoping for any favorable response. God Bless!

  4. Kent,

    You can reach our vocations office at Thanks and God bless!

  5. Hey im entering highschool and i want to become a priest, what should I Go when I gradúate from highschool.

  6. Alejandro,

    Thanks for your comment. If you are in high school now the best thing to do, aside from studying hard and doing well in school is to pray and find a way to be involved in your parish. As you get closer to graduation you can start thinking about going to whether to join an order or be a diocesan and when to go seminary. Let us know if you need more help.

  7. I’m a graduate with major in industrial physics and I’m 28years old. I want to be a priest what do i do?

  8. Good day, Im a Radiologic Technology graduate without any philosophy background, Im considering entering the seminary. What should i do?

  9. I am a graduate of mechanical engineering but I want to be a priest I have a great urge and passion for it to serve god and as well care for the poor and pray for spiritually captives but the challenge i have is am the only son of my parents and they are against it please advise me i can’t see my self drop this desire please i need help

  10. With much prayer and honest conversation. The Lord has a plan for your happiness and growth in holiness. Invite your parents to join in the process.

  11. Erick, God bless your desire!
    There are programs in seminary for those who hold at least a BA and need philosophy. Your best bet would be to contact your local vocations director for more information. If you don’t have a BA there are college semianrys where you would do a BA in philosopy

  12. Ambrose,
    God bless your desire! If you wish to be a priest you must develop a good habit of prayer, find a priest you trust for guidance and then contact your local vocations director.

  13. I wanted to inquire is City Seminary in Sacramento meet the requirements for a parish priest.

  14. Well I’ve had the zeal of becoming a priest but the financial status of my family keeps on dragging. e back…I really need help what should I do?

  15. Hi Ryan – Sacramento actually uses two seminaries, one in San Francisco and one in Oregon. A good start would be taking a look at this site. After that, and with prayer and talking with your pastor as well, I would encourage you to contact the Vocations Director for the Diocese.

  16. First, if you have a spiritual director and it seems that you do feel drawn to the priesthood, talk with your local vocations director. Be completely open and honest about your situation. If you are called, then God will provide. If you do proceed forward with the process, you can check out places like the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations, which help to ease the financial burden that some guys experience.

    Keeping you in prayer!

  17. Am an ssce holder and i want to be a priest,So can you lecture me on how d interview will be and the exams in other for me to know and prepare fully for the exams and interview and thank GOD i do attend mass regularly and i always visit the blessed sacrament after serving mass at the altar because am an altar server,so please am pleading with you to help me……And as you do so may you remain bless in Jesus name……AMEN

  18. I’m currently a sophomore in high school, and I’m considering the priesthood, but I want to go to college first. Are there any classes I can take now in high school that will help prepare me (I go to a Catholic high school), and are there any majors/minors I should look into for college that would help me (I’ll probably be going to a state college, so they likely won’t have a ton of theology courses).

  19. Hi John,

    Our first recommendation would be to contact your local Diocese and ask to speak to the vocations director. He can help guide you through this process. Before that, the best thing you can do is to talk with your parish priest, continue attending Mass, and find a good spiritual director. God bless you in your journey!

    In Christ,

  20. Hello Ryab,

    Thank you for your interest! Some courses to consider would be theology and philosophy, both of which will help prepare you for seminary. If you have a priest friend or campus minister, I would also talk with him as well, as he might be able to help you choose courses or activities in your school and community. Since you will probably go to a state college, then definitely check out the philosophy department, but again, I would ask a local priest to guide you in selecting appropriate courses. Beyond this, be sure to attend Mass regularly, daily if possible and find a good spiritual director!

    In Christ,


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