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Applicants

WHO DO I CONTACT IF I AM THINKING ABOUT THE PRIESTHOOD?

An individual who is considering the priesthood eventually must make his desire known to someone else.  Logically, that someone would be the pastor or associated pastor of his parish.  That in and of itself can often present a problem, as the individual may have never taken the opportunity to introduce himself to the parish priests.  If that is the case, a priest or religious from a high school or some other connection could be made.  However, on-going contact with the pastor is important as eventually, a letter of recommendation will be required from him. 

Once that connection has been established, the individual considering the priesthood should contact their Vocation Director.  Here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the full-time Vocation director is Father Christopher Martin.  His office is located on the west side of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, in the Office of Vocations, which has its own entrance, separate from the main entrance to the seminary.

HOW DO I LEARN MORE ABOUT KENRICK-GLENNON SEMINARY?

There are a number of opportunities available that enable a young man to get to know the seminary program and the seminarians.  These programs are explained in more detail on the homepage of this website, stlvocations.org, under the heading "Events and Camps."  Such opportunities include the monthly Holy Hour, the monthly gathering of high school students at the John Gabriel Society and the monthly gathering for those in college or older, Fraternity of St. John Vianney.  Twice a year, the Office of Vocations sponsors a "Come and See" retreat for high school young men seeking an opportunity to visit the seminary for an extended stay.  For those attending college or beyond, "The Archbishop's Retreat" is a valuable opportunity to live and pray at the seminary and includes input from the Archbishop. 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GET INVOLVED?

The programs mentioned above are crucial.  No Vocation Director will give an application to someone unknown. A personal meeting must take place, as the Vocation Director must eventually recommend each individual applicant to the seminary. Regular meetings with the Vocation Director are designed to provide him with some knowledge of the applicant, his abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and understanding of the priesthood.  This can only happen by building a relationship.  Ongoing contact through special events, along with office meetings to discuss the demands of the priesthood, is essential. 

WHAT ABOUT AN APPLICATION?

Eventually the individual must request the application packet.  It is typical that the Vocation Director will not ask the person to simply take the application and think about it.  No, the young man must have the courage to ask for the application.  Until he does, he is simply not ready.  Asking for the application is a small, but important step in claiming ownership of his possible call to the priesthood.   

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?

If an application packet has been asked for and given, the process for admittance begins.  The packet contains a long list of necessary documentation, which initially can be a bit overwhelming!  Some information is practical: doctor/dental/health forms/emergency forms, etc. Other information involves more personal matters: a psychological assessment, behavioral assessment and an autobiographical essay.  All the information is confidential.  Each individual applicant must fully complete his packet before it can be forwarded to the appropriate seminary for consideration and interviews.  Once the interviews are complete the seminary staff offers a positive or negative recommendation.  If positive, the recommendation proceeds to the Archbishop, who makes the final determination.  Letters are sent at every step of the process informing the candidate of his progress.  God willing, a letter of acceptance is received from the Archbishop.  If negative, the applicant is given an explanation. 

HOW LONG DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS TAKE?

A determined candidate could complete the entire packet within 3-4 months.  Often the setting of appointments, writing the autobiography and arranging assessments takes more time than one realizes.  Sometimes the packet is put aside and forgotten, only to be remembered weeks later.  It is recommended that emergency, insurance, and background information be completed as soon as possible.  Then a steady approach to tackle the additional requirements can follow.  With a planned approach, the packet will soon be complete.

WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DUE?

The sooner one completes the application process the better.   Again, no application will be forwarded from the Office of Vocations to the seminary until it is complete and all information is gathered.  All interviews with the seminary staff need to be completed before the end of May.  Thus, we ask that the entire packet be completed and in the Office of Vocations by mid-April. 

Videos and Links

Videos

Man of Christ

Watch Man of Christ on Kenrick.edu (10 minutes) »

The latest production of seminarians from Cardinal Glennon College, Man of Christ explores the process of discernment in the priesthood for a seminarian, and gives viewers an inside look at the life of a Seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Captains in His Army

Watch Captains in His Army (10 minutes) »

Retro. Captains in His Army was created by the Serra Club at Kenrick Seminary in the 1940s as a promotional video to encourage vocations to the priesthood. We found this on an 18mm reel sitting in the top of a closet in the Vocation Office. Look how far we have come! While the quality is not the best, it is a fun window into the past. Although we have come along way in advances with technology, one thing remains the same and that is our devotion to Jesus Christ and our commitment to promoting vocations to the priesthood.

Duel of The Seminarians (Lightsabers)

Watch Duel of the Seminarians on YouTube (5 minutes) »

Star Wars in a galaxy not too far away. The Kenrick-Glennon Days camp staff created this awesome video to kick off Kenrick-Glennon Days 2006. The production/special effects are amazing.

Remembering John Paul II

Watch Remembering John Paul II (5 minutes) »

Brought to you by the Office of Vocations in the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. It’s a collage of photos and video clips accompanied by a soundtrack that mixes music with audio clips of some of the late Holy Father’s speeches. Caution: this is not for the faint of heart. Find more like it at http://www.rockvoc.org

Holy Priesthood

Watch Holy Priesthood (18 minutes) »

Mom and Dad worried about you thinking about the priesthood? This is the video for them. It is packed with a lot of information about life in the seminary and about priesthood in St. Louis. Curious? Check it out yourself before passing it on to the ‘rents.

Fishers of Men

Watch Fishers of Men (18 minutes) »

Probably the best video on priesthood we have ever seen. Wondering if the priesthood is a life worth living? Wonder no longer. If you only have Windows Media Player, you can see it here.

If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please let us know at vocations@archstl.org.

Other Links of Interest

About Us

The Office of Vocations provides information, programs and activities to help Catholics consider God's will for their lives and to be courageous in their decision to follow God's call, especially to the priesthood and religious life. If you would like more information about vocations to marriage and dedicated single life, click here.

Reverend Christopher Martin

Reverend Christopher M. Martin

Reverend Christopher M. Martin was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2006. He was appointed the director of vocations in June of 2011. 

314-792-6462 chrismartin@archstl.org

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Ellen Ariston

Mrs. Ellen Ariston is the new Adminsitrative Assistant for the Office of Vocation.  

314.792-6463 ellenariston@archstl.org

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Mrs. Renae Novak

Mrs. Renae Novak has worked for the Office of Vocations since 1995 conducting behavioral assessments for the seminary application process, and since 2005 as events & website coordinator/administrative assisitant for vocations.  

314.792-6465 Rnovak@archstl.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you become a priest?

We become priests because we feel a personal call from God. That does not mean we had an experience with thunderbolts and voices. Instead, we had an inner feeling and we grew to know ourselves better, recognizing our talents and abilities. That sense of being called kept coming back to us.

Over time and with prayer, we each came to believe this was the right path for us. We decided to at least give it a try by beginning the initial formation process to enter priesthood.

How did your family and friends react to your decision?

That depends. Many of us found that our family and friends were supportive and encouraging. But not everyone experiences that same support.

Sometimes, because of misunderstandings or fear, families and friends are less enthusiastic about our decisions. That is when we have to trust the voice of God that we hear in our hearts and the good judgment of the communities and dioceses that think we are right for this and support us in our decision.

How important is prayer in your life?

Because we have chosen a way of life that says that God is most important, prayer is central to our lives. Think of it as a deep level of communication with God similar to the kind of communication that happens between any two people who love each other. Our relationship with God grows and deepens with prayer.

Since prayer is important, many priests spend about two hours a day in different types of prayer. Part of that time we pray with others at Mass. We also pray other formal prayers like the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary, or spend time reading and reflecting on readings from the Bible.

Part of the time we also pray alone in the presence of the Eucharist, perhaps reading or just being quiet with God. One of the positive effects of prayer, whatever shape it takes, is to keep us aware of God’s activity through people, events and circumstances of daily life. Many people ask us to pray for them also.

Is prayer always easy for you?

Not always. Even those monks and nuns in contemplative life, whose ministry is prayer, go through dry spells when our prayer time seems dull or uneventful. As we grow in our experience of prayer, we learn to adjust to these changes. We often depend on the support of our communities or the help of a spiritual director (someone like a coach or trainer) to help us keep praying during difficult times.

Those of us who are parish priests have our parish communities and our fellow priests to lead us towards prayer even when we would rather not be bothered. We try to be faithful even when we do not feel like it.

Our efforts are not always perfect, but we are convinced of our deep need for God. We believe God draws us to a deeper relationship with Him and responds to our faithfulness and perseverance in prayer.

What is the difference between a diocesan priest and a religious priest?

A diocesan priest ordinarily serves a church community (a parish) within a geographic area called a diocese. He serves the people as a parish priest, but he may also be involved in many other forms of ministry, such as teaching, hospital ministry, military, university or prison chaplaincy.

A religious priest is a member of a religious congregation whose ministry goes beyond the geographic limits of any diocese. A religious priest seeks to live a life of poverty, celibacy and obedience within a community of men with a particular spirituality. The community shares a common vision and spirituality and often emphasizes a particular type of ministry.

How long does it take to become a diocesan priest?

Generally it takes four years of undergraduate study in philosophy at Cardinal Glennon College, followed by four years of graduate study in theology at Kenrick School of Theology. If a man already has a college degree before entering the seminary, he may spend two years in the Pre-Theology program at Kenrick – Glennon Seminary to obtain the prerequisite number of undergraduate hours in philosophy in order to study graduate-level theology. Kenrick – Glennon Seminary is administered by priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis specifically for educating and preparing men to be priests.

How old do you have to be to enter the seminary?

Some men enter the seminary after graduating from high school and some men enter the seminary following college or after working for a number of years. The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has asked dioceses to accept men over 45 only in extraordinary circumstances, on a case-by-case basis.

What does a seminarian study?

As part of his formation, a seminarian studies the Bible, the Church and its teaching, moral questions, the sacraments and their celebration, the history of the Church and its Canon Law, and other subjects too. Seminarians meet regularly with a tutor and spiritual director to discuss developments in their prayer life and study of prayer. But the seminary isn’t just about academics. There is also a lot of time for personal prayer and growth as well as pastoral opportunities that mirror some of the things a man will do if he becomes a priest, which is similar to “work experience.”

Do you have to be particularly academic to be a seminarian?

Not necessarily. The kinds of grades you earn are only one part of who you are. A generous heart, a prayerful soul and good people skills are as important as anything else when it comes to being a priest. A seminarian needs to be an average or above-average student. He should be able to pass the courses in the seminary and show that he can be an effective minister.

What is seminary life like?

It is an exciting time for most of us. Of course, we encounter times of struggle, emotionally and/or academically. But we are finally starting to realize our dream of being a priest, and that is exciting. The academics are as challenging as at any college or university. In addition to our studies and meeting with a spiritual adviser, we are encouraged to enjoy friendships with both men and women, but dating is not part of our life because seminarians are preparing for celibacy rather than marriage. Much like a sports team or a military training class, seminarians are able to form special bonds with their classmates as they journey through the challenges of the formation process together.

What vows do diocesan priests make?

Strictly speaking, diocesan priests do not make solemn vows like monks or nuns. They do, however, promise celibacy and obedience to their bishop. They do not make a vow or promise of poverty, but they do try to live simply so they can be of service to God’s people.

Are you ever attracted to others in a romantic way?

Of course. We still experience normal human needs, feelings and desires. As celibate people, we choose to channel these feelings into other healthy directions. We work at remaining faithful to our vow of celibacy through prayer, closeness to Jesus, and good friendships.

What if you fall in love?

This happens, just as it could happen to a married person. Our responsibility in such a situation is to preserve the commitment we have made, which is to live as a priest. We try to develop relationships within the limits and responsibilities of our commitment to celibacy. Solid friendships with our brother priests encourage us and help us to live our commitment faithfully.

Obviously falling in love can be a painful situation for a priest. Yet we know all Christians eventually face pain in their lives. It isn’t always easy to be a faithful spouse, or to be a Christian single person either. Dealing maturely with such a challenge of our vows can make us stronger than ever in our vocations.

Do you ever wonder about marriage and children?

Sure we do. It is only natural that we wonder “what if …” Many of us are surrounded by married people with children and we see the rewards and struggles of married life on a daily basis. We also recognize the value and joy of our own lifestyle.

Are you ever lonely?

Of course. Like people in any way of life, priests can be lonely sometimes. We try to nurture significant friendships so we can fill our human need for closeness to other people and, of course, we pray. There is, however, a real difference between simply being alone and feeling lonely.

Why has there been a decline in the number of people entering priesthood?

Actually, the number of men being ordained worldwide is increasing. In the United States, the situation is more complex. To attribute the lower number of persons entering the priesthood to any single cause would be too simple. The world and the Church have undergone dramatic changes in the last 30 to 40 years. Furthermore, the high number of people entering religious life in the 1950s and 1960s was not typical of most of the Church’s history.

Today’s lower numbers have been attributed, among other things, to increasing discouragement on the part of parents; the reluctance of many people to make permanent commitments of any kind; and an increasing attachment to material goods and social status.

Seminary training is meant to help the seminarians and the people who guide them decide whether the seminarians have the skills, gifts and desire to give their lives to this challenging and fulfilling ministry.

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