Top Misconceptions of Seminary
When a young man tells his family and friends that he’s considering seminary, he may find that they don’t fully appreciate what that means. There are many misunderstandings about what seminary is and what it entails. We would like to address a few of the common ones.
Misconception 1: Seminary is ONLY for priests
Ashwin Kumar, a freshman seminarian at St. Joseph College Seminary, noted, “Others think seminary is strict with a lot of rules and regulations -- and they even think a person who joins a seminary HAS to become a priest. But they tend to forget that we are in the process of discernment. This is one of the most common false assumptions about the seminary.”
Seminary is simply an optimal environment where young men come to discern their vocation. Yes, the common denominator is that they feel God calling on them -- often to priesthood -- but not every man that enters will become a priest. The discernment process is often long, difficult and requires introspection and much guidance from their peers, Spiritual Director and God. If a man finds his calling elsewhere, outside of the seminary, he is not looked down upon. His time there was not wasted, but rather spent making dear friends, solidifying his faith, earning a college degree and acting as a positive force within his community. He should not feel ashamed or embarrassed -- he now knows that priesthood was not his true calling and doesn’t need to worry about what might have been.
Misconception 2: Seminarians have a lacking social life
“One of the top misconceptions of seminary life is that we don’t have fun here. People think that all we do is pray and study all day. When you join college seminary, you gain 28 brothers that, while prayer and study are important, always take time to play sports, video games, watch movies, hang out, and have fun.”
-Matthew Pajor, 3rd year seminarian, St. Joseph College Seminary
Some may think that leaving for seminary is ”leaving the real world” or “living in a bubble” with no time for fun, but this could not be further from the truth. At St. Joseph College Seminary, our seminarians receive a well-rounded education and get a “typical college” experience through our association with Loyola University Chicago. They become integrated with the local community and benefit from a healthy social life. Our location within the city of Chicago allows our seminarians to be part of a major city, where they befriend people of many different cultures and backgrounds. All while living in a community of men with a common goal: to discern God’s call.
Misconception 3: “You’ll need a fallback”
It has been said that earning a degree at a 4-year college before attending seminary would be a better idea, just in case one discerns to leave seminary and not pursue the priesthood. Unfortunately, seminary and the road to priesthood are not “a phase” and are not things one “tries out” to either fail or succeed. God calls on these young men to discern their vocation and it shouldn’t be put off. It’s a serious calling that should not be taken lightly. Through their hard work and spiritual guidance the men will discover their true calling, whether or not they are ordained priests in the future. Plus, their time is being put toward their education. At St. Joseph College Seminary, the men study at Loyola University Chicago and are able to earn a Bachelor’s degree.