A seminarian is a man who is discerning the Lord’s call to the 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 primarily 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.
The seminary is an environment that strives to form Christian men characterized by a life of holiness, human virtue, and generous service. Such a life is nurtured by a deep interior life of prayer and sound piety, filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a profound love for the universal and local Church. It is further nourished through a rigorous intellectual formation in a faithful and loving obedience to the Magisterium and the sacred truths entrusted to the Church. The seminary provides an environment that forms men to be committed disciples of Christ who are free to respond to God’s call to the priesthood, including the call to the celibate life.
A man who enters the seminary does not possess all the answers. In fact, many more questions will arise during 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 that:
“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, take their meals 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 their time in seminary formation.