Parents of seminarians (or even those contemplating the religious life) have a lot of questions.  Here are a brief answers along with links to more complete responses.

If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to e-mail us at

What is a vocation?

Young people entering religious life often talk about their “vocation”.  What exactly do they mean?  St. Pope John Paul II described a vocation as “an interior call of grace.”  More than that, a vocation is what someone is inspired to do for God and for their fellow man.  You can read more here.

Who pays for seminary?

This has been the most popular question since we started this blog.  The answer is “it depends”.  It depends on whether the student is called to be a diocesan priest or part of a religious community.  It also depends on the particular programs available in a given diocese and there are always scholarships.  A more complete explanation is here.

How long does it take to become a priest?

Typically priests hold both bachelors and masters degrees, with some going much further.  That means that formation can last for close to a decade if the first step is an undergraduate seminary.  There’s much more to it than that, though.  We have an in-depth article here.

What is the difference between a diocesan priest and an order priest?

Many people are surprised to learn that there are different types of priests.  Diocesan priests are those who serve the local bishop and are assigned parish work.  In most cases, they will spend their entire career in the diocese.  Order priests are members of a religious community with a particular mission.  For example. Pope Francis was a Jesuit … a member of the Society of Jesus which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.  An article further exploring the differences is here.

What is life in the seminary like?

Rather than trying to answer, we suggest you watch the video located here.  (Oh, there’s a bonus article here about an unusual hobby for a couple of Paulist seminarians of our acquaintance.)

What is a vocations director?

Upon declaring an interest in the religious life, your son will likely be assigned a vocations director to help him as he continues his discernment.  (If you have a daughter seeking to enter religious life, she will be assigned a vocations director as well — although I don’t have any direct experience with the formation of sisters, I know there are points of similarity.)  We’ve posted a brief article about vocations directors here.

What do you mean by discernment?

Discernment is the process of prayerfully exploring God’s desires for your life.  It means listening to both the interior and exterior worlds and trying to find that spot where you feel most called.  It is also an on-going process which doesn’t end the day a young man enters the seminary.  You can read more here, here and here.

What is a spiritual director?

A spiritual director is a guide for the Christian life — someone who helps another in their relationship with God.  Anyone can have a spiritual director and all seminarians must have one.  A more detailed explanation is posted here.


4 thoughts on “Questions and Answers

  1. Hello, I’m new to this site and was wondering if you also welcome FSSP (Latin Rite) Seminarian parents? If so, thank you. If not, please direct me as needed. Thank you.

  2. My name is Mujjuzi Robert. i have just completed my highy school and having a desire to join aseminary more so in Charlotte. Being a ugandan, can i get a diocese in Charlotte that can admit me?

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