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Each man’s journey to priesthood is rooted in a unique call from God. The discovery of this call and the journey of response are marked by discernment. A man’s relationship with God, his own self-knowledge, and his relationships with others are critical in this discernment process.

Some seminarians and priests find their consideration of priesthood begins at a very young age, while some are older when they look at this type of life of service. For many, the role of parents and families in nurturing their faith is foundational to hearing God’s call. The witness of priests who faithfully embrace this life and ministry often fans the flame of vocation. Individuals who affirm a man’s gifts and invite him to consider priesthood can provide the necessary encouragement. Vocation programs and events that nurture one’s prayer life as well as provide information about priesthood become especially important as a man matures and grows closer to a vocational response.


  • a life of prayer that includes daily reflection on the Scriptures, weekly Mass (more often if possible), regular confession, and spiritual reading
  • service and involvement in one’s parish in areas of liturgy, education, and service
  • contact with priests and/or seminarians, both on a formal and informal level
  • participation in vocation awareness activities and retreats

One of the common misunderstandings about any call to a priestly vocation is that it is solely one’s personal decision. While one may have an inner inclination toward a vocation, discernment cannot happen on one’s own. Rather, discernment requires potential candidates to be in prayerful dialogue with God and with the Church. This dialogue is especially important because today “there is…a certain tendency to view the bond between human beings and God in an individualistic and self-centered way, as if God’s call reached the individual by a direct route, without in any way passing through the community” (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 37). Before applying to a seminary, a man first works with a vocation director to help him seek personal clarity through a number of conversations, reflections, and experiences offered to him. The director and the discerner may embark on this path for several months or even years. As the man addresses significant questions and concerns for himself, the vocation director assists him by equipping him with healthy tools for discernment. The director would also serve him by identifying traits and qualities that suggest the possibility of priesthood or may raise significant concerns that suggest otherwise. The relationship between the man and the director is built on trust and openness to God’s divine will.


  • continued development of a life of regular prayer
  • regular meetings with a spiritual director who can assist in the discernment
  • participation in discernment weekends sponsored by seminaries used by the Diocese of  Toledo
  • participation in Project Andrew dinners with the Bishop and/or other priests of the diocese
  • individual seminary visits (arranged between prospective candidate, the vocation director and the seminary)


With the satisfaction of the vocation director, a man who is convinced he is ready to continue discerning God’s call in a formal setting is encouraged to apply to be a seminarian affiliated with the diocese. An honest and transparent approach to the application process enables one to grow as a man, Christian, and potential seminarian/priest. Once a man has completed the thorough application process, his materials are reviewed and presented to the Bishop. The Bishop makes the decision whether or not the man will be accepted as a seminarian. After being accepted, the candidate then needs to apply to a particular seminary according to the directives of the Bishop and vocation director. Depending on age and educational background, a man will apply for a college seminary program or a program of pre-theology/theology.


  • continued development of a life of regular prayer that may include praying the Liturgy of the Hours
  • regular meetings with a spiritual director
  • participation in discernment opportunities offered by the diocese and seminaries
  • honest reflection and disclosure related to various elements of the application process


Far from being completed, the discernment process continues once one enters a seminary. Seminary officials help each candidate grow in the areas of human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral formation as he continues to discern God’s call for his life. The seminary journey is a process of experiences over a number of years before the candidate and the bishop reach the conclusion that he is being called to the priesthood. Equally important is the man’s freedom to leave the seminary at anytime during the process without feelings of shame or disappointment. Should a man during his seminary years discern that God is not calling him to the priesthood, he takes the formation he has received as he moves forward to serve God in other ways.


  • a life of regular prayer that includes daily Mass and praying of the Liturgy of the Hours
  • regular meetings with a spiritual director and formation director
  • academic formation  that prepares one for life as a priest
  • pastoral formation in a variety of settings that prepares one for ministry

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