What is Seminary Like?

The seminary is the place where a man is formed mind, body, and soul into the image of Jesus Christ. 

Seminaries are not places where men walk around in silence all day chanting in Latin. Rather, they are places of joy, camaraderie, and deep learning!  

Today’s seminarians experience the best formation the Church offers!

In order to become a Catholic priest, a man must fulfill three basic requirements: a college degree, 2 years of Philosophy study, and 4 years of Theology study. 

Some men enter seminary while still in college and so they attend College Seminary.  Once they get a degree, they can transfer to Major Seminary. What is daily life like for a typical seminarian? In a word: busy.

Because the demands of priesthood are so great, formation of future priests is rigorous.  In addition to master’s-level academics, seminarians pray together at least twice a day, go to daily Mass, meet with their spiritual directors, and go to pastoral assignments at local parishes.

Plus there are special meetings, workshops, and homework.    

Three Levels of Seminary

  • College Seminary: Men who obtain a normal college degree, while at the same time undergoing the formation required to enter major seminary.
  • Pre-Theology: Men who already have a college degree, but who need to satisfy the requirements of two years of formation and study of philosophy before entering major seminary.
  • Major seminary (Theology): Men who have attended either college seminary or pre-theology, who now begin the final four years of priestly formation.

Installation of Ministries

Seminarians progress through several formal steps on their way to priesthood, typically in the timeframe presented below (with some variations, depending on the seminary).  Note that the first two ministries are also held by lay people throughout the Church.

  • Ministry of Lector (First Theology): Proclaim the word of God in a liturgical assembly.
  • Ministry of Acolyte (Second Theology): Assist the deacon and priest during Mass.
  • Admission to Candidacy (Third Theology): The bishop formally calls a man to be ordained.
  • Ordination to Diaconate (Summer after Third Theology): A man is ordained to proclaim the gospel at mass, preach, baptize, witness marriages, and assist the priest in bringing Jesus to people in need.
  • Ordination to Priesthood (Summer after Fourth Theology): A man is ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

 Four Pillars of Priestly Formation

Being a priest is not a job: it is a taking on a new identity; it is becoming alter Christus, another Christ. To this end, the Church requires rigorous formation in four key areas:

  • Human formation: learning how to form the future priests’ personality to be a bridge to Christ; how to be an effective public spokesperson for the Church.
  • Spiritual formation: developing a deep and mature relationship with Christ through prayer and virtuous living.
  • Intellectual formation: understanding the truths of the Faith and cultivating the skills to teach the Faith to others.
  • Pastoral formation: learning how to be a “shepherd of souls,” helping parishioners through the joys and trials of life. During their formation, seminarians learn to put Christ first in all things

St. Joseph Seminary College

Saint Joseph Seminary College is a community of faith rooted in the Benedictine tradition which promotes learning in the liberal arts and the development of the whole person.

The formation program fosters the commitment of seminarians to the Roman Catholic priesthood in accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation. The Seminary College also makes available its educational and other resources to the local community.

Visit their website

St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary

St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary is located in Boynton Beach, Florida (which is approximately 30 minutes south of West Palm Beach). It was opened in 1963 and is the only Roman Catholic theologate in the Southeastern United States. It is 1,000 miles from the nearest major seminary to the north and 800 miles from the nearest major seminary to the west. Because of its location and history it is the only bilingual and multicultural major seminary in the United States.

Students generally come to St. Vincent’s after receiving an undergraduate degree in philosophy from a college seminary program (like St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami) or having completed a pre-theology program (a 2 year prep program of philosophy and formation).  The primary purpose of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary is to provide a spiritual, academic, and pastoral program to prepare candidates for the Roman Catholic Priesthood. In response to the increased Hispanic presence in the United States, the seminary fosters a bilingual and multicultural environment.

As a free-standing graduate, professional and academic School of Theology, the seminary is secondarily committed to providing continuing education for clergy, religious, and laity of all denominations. St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary offers Master’s Degrees and provided the necessary preparation for priestly ordination.  Seminarian candidates are ordained to the priesthood for their sponsoring dioceses following the successful completion of their studies at St. Vincent’s.  St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary is co-owned by the seven dioceses of Florida.

Click here to visit the website of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.



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