Frequently Asked Questions
Since prayer is so important, most priests and religious spend approximately two hours a day in prayer—part of that time with others, at Mass and in common oral prayer; part alone, in reading and quiet attentiveness. Probably the main benefit of prayer is that it makes us more sensitive to God’s activity in the people, events, and circumstances of daily life.
After someone is ordained to the priesthood it is a little more complicated. After all, the person has made commitment to God and the Church, just like in marriage. Yes, unfortunately divorce does exist in our society and yes some priests do leave the priesthood for various reasons. No one is going to force anyone to stay. This is something which needs to be given consideration and one needs to look at any underlying reasons. Can a priest leave the priesthood? Yes. Should they? That’s another question entirely.
We have approximately the same amount of leisure time as most adults. In this time, we are free to do whatever is legal, moral, and reasonable for adults in our situation. Some of the more common activities are sports, movies, TV, reading, sharing with friends, enjoying the outdoors.
Yes, we are. Nothing happens to us at the time of entering the seminary that eliminates normal human needs, feelings, or desires. As celibate men, we choose to channel these feelings and express our love for others in the wide range of means other than those physical expressions restricted to and proper to marriage. However, priests can and do have chaste friendships with women.
Priestly formation programs discuss openly the topics of celibacy and the needs that men seeking to follow Christ as a celibate priest have. This is an important part of our priestly formation program. Experienced priests reviewing our formation program have stated that Mundelein Seminary prepares men in human and spiritual formation for a healthy life of celibate love much better than in years past.
There are four main areas of study and development in preparing for the priesthood: human, spiritual, the ability to minister (pastoral) and academic. Spirituality, the study of prayer and the development of one’s relationship with God, is covered mostly on an individual basis, with each man meeting with a priest-advisor. Ability to minister is developed in supervised programs. If a man goes to a college seminary, he has the same classes as a regular liberal arts college with the addition of classes on Philosophy, the Church and God. After college, he enters Theology, where his time is spent studying the Bible, the teachings of the Church, and the skills he will need to be a priest.
In no way. In fact, most vocation directors agree that the only way to really know that you have a vocation to the priesthood is to go to the seminary and try. It will become more and clearer to you once you are in an environment where everyone is trying to discern that same question. Many men go to the seminary, stay a year or two, and then leave. They are much better Catholics afterwards for the experience.
Every vocation is a gift from God, and given the importance and dignity of every vocation that God gives to the Church, every diocese and religious community has in place some policy to address such concerns. No one is turned away from studying for the priesthood or from religious formation for lack of financial resources.
A seminarian should be an average or above average student. A priest need not be a “brain,” but on the other hand a priest must have the ability to pass the courses the seminary requires in order to serve the Catholic community well.
It is very important for a priest both to have a well-balanced liberal arts education as well as a deep grasp of theology and the spiritual life. Priests must be at least as well educated as the people they serve; otherwise, they will not be respected when they speak of spiritual things. Every soul is precious to God and, therefore, to the priest. A priest is called to help the most educated as well as the least educated to find Jesus and to attain salvation.
Generally it takes four years after college or eight years after high school to become a diocesan priest (the same as for many professions). For men entering the seminary who already have a college degree, two years of philosophy (called the “Pre-Theology” program) are usually required before they may enter the theology program.