ASK FATHER: What can we do to get these men into seminary?

12_03_30_vocationsFrom a reader:

I am a Youth Minister at a parish and have probably a dozen young men (age 12-19) who are discerning calls to the priesthood and are interested in seminary. I have young priests at the parish, but they are reluctant to “push too hard.” What can we do to get these men into seminary? How can I, as a lay man, continue to give them hard-identity Faith that translates into them continuing their formation in college seminary?

For a response I turned to a priest who is a vocation director for his diocese.

GUEST RESPONSE: Fr “Diocesan Vocation Director”

Keep the young men involved in the life of the Church, serving at the altar, good service opportunities, prayer/retreat opportunities, a few Hail Marys per day for protection of their vocation and allow them to interact with the priests on a personal level.

Secondly, help them see that the Lord’s call can pass them by, the Lord has a plan for our life where we can do the most amount of good and achieve holiness with greater ease so don’t avoid His invitation because the disposition or situation may pass you by.

Thirdly, no one can make the vocational decision for you; be a man and choose to respond to the invitation.  If the Lord wants you to do something else, He has to make it clear through the situation and circumstances of their state in life.

Tell the men why they have the qualities needed to be a good priest and the impact their life as a priest will have on thousands of others.

We honor soldiers and volunteers that give of themselves during disasters but in the long run their work primarily focused on earthly results and peace but how much more should the priesthood be honored because they are called to stand in the trenches of hell in people’s lives and bring the light of Christ there.

Priesthood is a noble and honorable calling which every man should want to pursue; Hoorah!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Adaquano says:

    You don’t have to push too hard, I would say at the end of each gathering a prayer for vocations would be a good idea, that way it puts the idea out there, and hopefully the priests can follow this at the end of Mass. Hopefully, at home their parents talk about vocation too, the more common priests seem the more likely these kids will feel like it is something reasonable worth considering.

  2. HyacinthClare says:

    I just LOVE that picture.

  3. Joy65 says:

    I pray each and every day for all priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Religious Brothers and Sisters , those discerning a call to the Priesthood or religious life, our Pope, all Bishops and Cardinals. I ask Our Lord and Our Lady to help bring good, holy, devout men to the Priesthood and the Religious Life. Some don’t answer the call because it’s never suggested to them or they don’t spend time with the good, holy, devout Priests we already have. Or all they see and hear is the negatives of the Priesthood. They need to be told the Blessings and graces and positives of the Priesthood and Religious life. They must have those Priests of good example come and speak in their parishes. They won’t consider the call if they don’t ever know there can be a call.

  4. Knight from 13904 says:

    Well said Father!!!
    Keep up the great work you are doing, along with Fr. Z ,for the benefit of our Church

  5. Joy65 says:

    May I share what the Diocesan Vocation Director said with others on other sites?


  6. Christine says:

    If their parents are on board, maybe they can look into going to a minor seminary. They still have a few in this country. I know that the Legoinnaries of Christ run one in (I think) Indiana.

  7. When I was “Senior MC” for a TLM at a diocesan parish, I responded to young men discerning a vocation by giving them more attention in server training, eventually as replacement MCs. Obviously I would make the pastor aware of it, but I also made sure the young man had a spiritual director.

    And at least one gentleman whom I trained in the Low Mass will be ordained a priest in the next year.

    So I guess my work was done there.

  8. clarinetist04 says:

    “Secondly, help them see that the Lord’s call can pass them by, the Lord has a plan for our life where we can do the most amount of good and achieve holiness with greater ease so don’t avoid His invitation because the disposition or situation may pass you by.”

    Does the Lord’s call really pass someone by? Or is it perhaps that if we wait so long to respond to the call of the Lord, we may find ourselves not in a position to effective act on His plan. I think this is an important distinction. The Lord will never stop calling us to our true vocation. Or it might be better to say that we will never stop feeling that call of the Lord, that little whisper, to our true vocation. That’s what makes it so difficult when we don’t respond, yet continue to hear that beckoning.

  9. hwriggles4 says:

    For the older boys (17-19), have them seek a college that has a good Catholic Student Center, where he will have a good support group. Certain Catholic colleges such as Belmont Abbey, Benedictine, Wyoming Catholic, St. Gregory, Ave Maria, University of Dallas, Christendom, and Steubenville are also good places for discernment.

    Father John Trigilio has helped run a weeklong camp at the Mount for teenage boys that has had a good rapport. I have read a few articles about this camp, and there is time set aside for daily Mass, Rosary, and prayer.

  10. Ben Kenobi says:


    Yes. The Lord’s call can pass you by. It’s important for us to respond while we are still able to respond. This is also why I’m really not very appreciative of vocations prayers that make sure not to offend anyone by leaving them out, ie, not wanting to offend single people. I used to tell people to pray for my patience and to pray for my faith that I would achieve my calling, not to pray for me as a single person. So many Catholics have given up on their lives and their vocations because they can’t see the plan that the Lord has for them.

  11. edwar says:

    To the Youth Minister: don’t forget that some of your young men might be called to other vocations besides the diocesan priesthood. Get some familiarity with men’s religious orders, both active and contemplative. (I highly suggest a visit to Clear Creek Abbey if you’ve never been there–what you will see there will blow you away, and take your thinking about men’s vocations to a whole new level.) Your young men will start to see that discernment is not just about whether to be a priest or not–it’s about finding exactly what kind of life religious or priestly life God calls him to.

    All this might seem to risk siphoning off vocations from your diocese (where they might be urgently needed) and putting them other places, and possibly diverting some as non-ordained male religious, meaning fewer priests. But I would not think of it this way. Just putting these things out there, can give the young men broad and adventurous possibilities, as they think about their own futures in a whole new way. I think the diocesan and religious priesthoods tend to multiply each other. Instead of getting, maybe, 2 men to enter your diocese’s seminary, maybe you’ll get 3 to enter your seminary to be diocesan priests, plus another 3 to go into vocations elsewhere—of whom maybe 1 might become a non-ordained male religious, and the other 2 religious priests.

    Let me put this another way:

    A young man who is NOT planning to go into seminary or any kind of religious order, might say, “Yeah, I’m trying to decide right now where to go to college. I’m good at football, so maybe I can get a scholarship at Big State College ABC. But then again, I eventually want to be a doctor, and I’ve heard that Top University XYZ has better academics, and higher percentage of them get into med school. So right now, I’m between ABC and XYZ, until I hear how much scholarship money the coach at ABC can get me…”

    Wow, that sounds really interesting, doesn’t it? That young man is really thinking about his future, isn’t he?

    But what about another young man, who says, “Hmm, well, yeah, I’m sort of thinking about being a priest…” Uh-oh, that doesn’t sound so interesting…

    BUT… what if the second young man could instead say, “Well, yes, I’m thinking about the diocesan priesthood… I really admire Fr. X, and I know they really need priests here, ’cause there’s so much work to be done… But I’m also wondering if God might be calling me to be a monk, because the spirit of their community is amazing, how they’re all working together to serve God, living the liturgical hours together, it’s just such an amazing way to serve… BUT, I’m also doing well in Spanish class, and I know this order of missionaries who are really orthodox, and they’re doing great work serving the poor in Honduras…”

    You see, now he’s thinking about religious and priestly vocations in the way that other men are thinking about what college to go to. He’s asking specific questions of God and himself, trying to find his right place. It’s not “whether” to go–it’s “where” to go.

    I just feel like introducing the young to this type of thought can pay huge dividends in vocations.

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  13. mzanghetti says:

    Once again Father Z, you have managed to inspire one to think deeper. My experience is that the call never really goes away, it pops up whenever you try to engage in deeper prayer or meditation for you to meditate on the fact God called and you didn’t answer. That is something that I struggle with on a frequent basis and don’t really know how to resolve. You may want to talk to these young men and mention that still small voice may never go away and that is something they may regret in later years because they said no to God’s call. I feel an occasional pang of regret every time I see the priest elevate the Eucharist because I know I didn’t really listen to that still, small voice and properly discern what God was calling me to. Let them also know that a proper prayer life must be essential, because it is something I struggle with to this Day. I am not making excuses, just speaking as honestly as I can about my own experiences and hoping to help see it doesn’t happen to others. Please pray for them and me.

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