Responding to the Call
Responding to the call requires: prayer, hard work, generosity, and sacrifice. These qualities are not developed when a man enters the seminary, but begins many years earlier while living at home with the family.
Christ calls us to be holy, to be conformed more closely to His image and likeness. Growth in holiness is a continuous development, nurtured by the Sacraments, personal prayer and spiritual reading. In the words Saint Pope John Paul II, “The call to holiness is a universal call, valid for all human beings without distinction of age, profession, race or language. Just as all are redeemed, so all are called. The vocation to holiness means putting into practice, in one’s own daily life, the example and teachings of Jesus Christ.”
From Holy Scripture we read: “It is God’s will that you grow in holiness; that you abstain from immorality…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) And again: “In a word, you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
The general call to holiness is concretized through one’s particular vocation. The following areas are offered as an aid to become more open to that vocation and to thus, follow Christ more closely.
Ways to Respond
- Pray: asking the Lord to show you the vocation He has prepared for you and invites you to embrace.
- Listen: to God and have the courage to respond to Him freely and generously.
- Recite: the rosary, asking Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of us all, to intercede with her Son on your behalf.
- Make: Eucharistic Holy Hours, placing yourself in the Real Presence of the One who calls, the One who invites.
- Read: and meditate on Sacred Scripture and other good spiritual reading including the lives of the saints.
- Attend: Mass and receive Holy Communion as often as your state in life and current responsibilities will allow.
- Go: to the Sacrament of Penance, frequently and consistently.
- Serve: your parish, and elsewhere, as needed and as you are able.
- Talk: with a priest or consecrated religious about your vocation questions and concerns, seeking spiritual direction and guidance.
THE HARVEST IS RICH BUT THE LABORERS ARE FEW; BEG THE HARVEST MASTER TO SEND OUT LABORERS FOR HIS HARVEST.
A candidate for priestly formation in the Diocese of Orange must be a high school graduate with the ability to do college level work. He should be in good health physically, mentally, and spiritually. He must be a baptized and confirmed, practicing Catholic. He must be free to enter this state of life, that is, not be married nor have any dependents. He must want to grow in holiness and sincerely desire to serve God and His people.
For those without an undergraduate bachelor degree, studies for the priesthood ordinarily include up to four years of college seminary and five years of theology seminary formation and studies. For those who have already earned an undergraduate bachelor degree, studies for the priesthood include one or two years of pre-theology and five years of theology seminary formation and studies.
A candidate accepted by the diocese will attend a college seminary or theology seminary as designated by the Bishop.
Entering a seminary is not a definite decision to become a priest. Rather, the seminary is designed to help one make that decision by means of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation. A candidate need not be absolutely positive, but should give serious thought to his decision to enter by seeking information and advice. He should avail himself of the guidance of competent people, evaluate his motivations, and above all, pray to the Lord for light, courage and strength to actively discern and explore the possible vocation to which he is being called.
Understanding Seminary Formation
When you are ready to move to a more formal discernment of your vocation to the priesthood, it is time to meet with a Vocations Director and begin the application process to enter a seminary formation program.
Your seminary training will help you discover your gifts and talents, and help you develop the dedication and firmness of purpose necessary for priestly life and ministry. More important, it will help you clarify your own particular mission in life. But self-awareness is only part of the process, since no one calls himself to be a priest. God calls you through the Church, which speaks through your bishop; until you are called in that way, you will not be certain of your vocation to the ordained ministry.
A seminary formation program offers you opportunities to “be with the Lord” and to allow yourself to be shaped and formed by him into a candidate for the ministerial priesthood. A priestly formation program is the human instrument of God’s molding hands. It is the way the Church cooperates with God to form and shape you. As Saint John Paul II, wrote the tasks undertaken during this time are to develop a “relationship of deep communion and friendship with Jesus” and to receive “a catechesis that is deeper than the teaching he gives to the people.” Consequently, a priestly formation program needs to be all-encompassing, affecting your spirit, mind, and character.
The purpose of Human Formation is to assist the seminarian in his task of becoming a man of integrity with the personality necessary for priestly ministry in the Church. These programs are ordered to assist the seminarian to grow in true freedom, to develop a solid moral character, to be well-oriented to the truth, to become a man of communion, to evidence affective maturity, to be respectful of every person, to exercise appropriate care for his physical well-being, to be a good steward with respect to temporal goods, and to be a confident leader.
In the area of spiritual formation, our seminarians seek to grow in their relationship with Christ through prayer, spiritual reading and contemplation. Spiritual formation aims to invite seminarians into exploring the many beautiful spiritual traditions and “schools” in our Catholic tradition to build a personal friendship with Christ. In this relationship, they encounter the overwhelming love of God in their lives and share in His merciful compassion.
In the area of intellectual formation, our seminarians seek to deepen their faith through study of the philosophy and theology so that they may authentically proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life to the faith communities they serve. Our seminarians learn the skills and develop the disposition necessary to be ministers of the Gospel in all things and at all times.
Seminarians at both the College and Theologate level participate in supervised field education assignments. Placements include: Parishes (varied cultural experiences), nursing homes, senior citizen centers, special education schools, social service agencies, hospices, soup kitchens, hospitals, high schools, and prisons.
Seminaries for the Diocese of Orange
The Bishop of the diocese sends men to a number of different seminaries around the world. Below you will find the most common seminaries men are sent to– click to view the website for more information about their location and programs.
St. John’s Seminary
Mount Angel Seminary
Saint Benedict, OR
North American College
Tlalpan Centro, Mexico