What Does It Take To Be A Seminarian?
Entering seminary to discern God's vocational call is a critical step. Curious young men might wonder what attending seminary is like, what the application process entails and what it takes to be a successful seminarian. Well, we interviewed a few of our seminarians at St. Joseph College Seminary, ranging from brand-new freshmen and seasoned upperclassmen to get their input on these topics.
Here are their responses.
"What made you want to become a seminarian in the first place?"
Raphael Roxas (3rd-year seminarian): Through seminary camps in Milwaukee I came to know several seminarians and priests. We played ultimate frisbee, soccer, and other sports, had good conversations, and just generally got to know each other. I had a realization that seminary wasn't some far-fetched concept and that these guys were just like me. They were striving to be the best men they could be. I admired that, and soon I realized that some of my role models were those seminarians and priests. I eventually decided to take a similar path to them and discern my vocation at St. Joseph.
"Did you consult with anybody about coming to seminary beforehand?"
Andres Tejeda (3rd-year seminarian): My parish priests at the time were the two priests that I had asked about priesthood even when I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do with the idea. One of them gave me great insight when he said, "How are you going to discern priesthood when you aren't immersed in the lifestyle? You can't discern from the outside looking in. Get in the water and see how it feels for yourself."
Raphael Roxas (3rd-year seminarian): I did consult with other people before applying, namely my vocation director and my mom. I asked them if they saw the possibility of a call to the seminary in me, and they said yes. Going to seminary is the best formation anyone could ever have because it creates the optimal environment for discernment.
Ángel Hilario Álvarez (1st-year seminarian): I met with a Deacon of my parish on multiple occasions while deciding to come to St. Joseph. I wanted the advice of someone that had already gone through seminary and I had already developed a close, trusted friendship with him. He made me realize that coming seminary isn’t only about my desiring it, but it also depended on God’s will. He didn’t leave me just wondering what God’s will might be either -- he instructed me that God speaks to the heart, so I must follow it. He probably doesn’t remember this conversation by now, but the simplicity and the straightforwardness with which he talked and approached things were very helpful in my decision making.
"Is there a specific type of person that it takes to be successful at seminary?"
Aby Abraham (1st-year seminarian): I think that the only trait that a person needs when coming to Seminary is an open heart. If you come with a truly open heart, Christ will take care of you and the rest will fall into place. You will be guided to find what actions you need to take.
Goodwin Francis (1st-year seminarian): In terms of personality, there is NO specific type of person that would be successful in seminary because the call to be priest and go through seminary is a God-given call. He can call on any man to be a priest. However, in order to be successful, a seminarian needs to have a certain attitude towards seminary life: a seminarian, regardless of personality, should always yearn for the Lord and seek to deepen his relationship with God and his brethren.
Andres Tejeda (3rd-year seminarian): I don't think there is a specific type of person that makes a great seminarian. However, I do think that there is a specific type of mentality that a young man thinking about entering seminary needs to have. He needs to be honest with himself about God's calling to the priesthood. Being able to say YES to God's calling can be intimidating, but so rewarding in the end. Whether you go on to enter priesthood or find that God calls you to a different vocation, it's crucial to take the time to seriously explore these paths in the best environment possible.
"What was the application process like?"
Raphael Roxas (3rd-year seminarian): The application process was different when compared to other university applications because it's not just your choice and their confirmation. It starts with prayer, through which you may feel that God is calling you to seminary. You would then feel called to begin the application process. From there, the Church, through the admissions board and seminary staff, discerns you. They pray for you and for guidance as they consider your application. In this way, you make yourself available through applying and the rest of the decision is in the hands of the Church.
Andres Tejeda (3rd-year seminarian): The application process is very thorough, the admissions staff wants to make sure that you are serious about seminary. You fill out an application to St. Joseph, then upon receiving your application, are called in for a psychological examination and interviews with the formation staff, rector, and dean of the seminary. It is not a difficult process at all, but it is more thorough than other university applications.
"What should aspiring seminarians consider before applying?"
Raphael Roxas (3rd-year seminarian): When you are considering if you should apply, don't worry so much about qualifications (for example, you don't need to have been an altar server to enter seminary) but ask yourself, "when did I fall in love with Jesus Christ and the Church, and how will I continue to build that relationship?"
Andres Tejeda (3rd-year seminarian): There are a few things I would recommend to anybody considering seminary:
1. Make sure that you are honest with yourself about this beautiful calling from God to live this lifestyle.
2. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6
3. Entering the seminary can be overwhelming and intimidating, but know that God and the rest of the seminarians are walking this journey with you.
4. Be ready for a great college experience!
Seminary life at St. Joseph College Seminary is like no other. As a transfer student from the City Colleges of Chicago, I can not express how unique our lives are but yet how involved St. Joseph is with the Loyola University Community. We play intramural sports (soccer, volleyball, etc.) I am able to play with Loyola's baseball team, meet so many great students and new friends, and experience real college life at the same time.