Seminary Application Process
How does the application process begin?
Only after a sufficient amount of time has passed (preferably 10 months) over which a discerner has journeyed with the Director of Vocations, and after careful consideration of a discerner’s motives, will he be presented with an application. The application process is a journey of reflection and exploration, and by no means a trivial task. Therefore, it must never be undertaken in an urgent or hasteful manner, and must be done with sufficient time for prayer and reflection to accompany the respective tasks. In order to ensure a proper and timely pursuit of the application process please take note of the time frame below.
What Does the Application Process Involve?
The components of the application process may vary from somewhat for each applicant, but generally will include questionnaires, interviews, personal autobiography, letters of recommendation, medical history, academic history, sacramental records and criminal background check. Once an applicant has been approved by the Diocese of Buffalo, he must then be approved by a particular seminary to which he has been sent. Additionally, applicants must undergo the application process for the seminary to which they are being sent. Often, the application process of the diocese and that of a seminary will have common components, which can simply be copied, but both processes must be completed by their respective deadlines.
What is the time frame of the application process?
-Each application anticipates a Fall Semester Admission to either St. Mark’s Seminary in Erie, PA (College Level) or St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, MD (Graduate Level & Pre-Theology).
-In order for acceptance to be pursued for a given Fall Semester contact should be established with the Director of Vocations prior to the start of the respective calendar year (January 1st).
-All applications are to be completed by April 1st. This is to allow adequate time for further evaluation by the Director of Vocations, the psychological assessment, the interview with the Bishop of Buffalo, and the interview by the respective seminary admissions board.
Am I eligible to apply for a seminary program?
As stated earlier, eligibility to apply for a seminary program is determined after a period of discernment and exploration has taken place with the Director of Vocations. There are however some general norms to be considered for eligibility. These include the following:
Questions for Reflection & Discernment
Do I attend Mass weekly and uphold the precepts of the Church?
Applicants must be practicing Catholics, faithful to all Church teaching, and active members of their parish community.
Am I a lifelong Catholic or convert?
A requirement is that all applicants are males who have received the sacrament of Confirmation. A period of two years must pass for those who have converted to the Catholic faith following their reception into full communion.
How old am I?
Seminary formation must begin no later than the age of 50.
What is my sexual orientation?
Each applicant must possess the potential for a healthy life of celibacy and be faithful to all of the Church’s teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage and sexual morality. Applicants must demonstrate a mature self-awareness and psychological integration of their sexuality. Those who are are not at peace in these areas are advised to seek spiritual direction as a guide to chaste living, rather than pursuing a priestly vocation at this time.
Have I been married before?
Applicants who have been married and divorced would have to attain a Decree of Nullity before an application could be considered. Careful exploration must be undergone in order to ensure that no obstacles remain that would hinder the effectiveness of priestly formation and ministry.
Have I been a member of a religious community?
While some begin religious life and then realize that God has called them to formation for diocesan priesthood, a period of two years must pass in order for adequate discernment to take place for such a change in formation. When applicable, dispensation from vows must be attained before acceptance into priestly formation is considered.
Have I been rejected or declined from priestly formation in another diocese?
The Diocese of Buffalo is not inclined to accept applicants who have been declined elsewhere. If special circumstances merit consideration of this possibility it must be evident that the cited concern has been dealt with in such a way that there will not be recurrence. For those dismissed from formation, a period of at least two years must pass before eligibility is considered.
Do I belong to the Diocese of Buffalo?
The application process for priestly formation is primarily for those who either have roots or have spent a significant amount of time living within the Diocese of Buffalo. Those applying from outside of the diocese must discuss their interest with the Director of Vocations, and if necessary, the Bishop of Buffalo.
Am I in good physical and mental health?
Jesus exemplified servant leadership, which he instilled in his Apostles. This same servant leadership is crucial to priesthood to this day. In order for priests to minister through both service and leadership, soundness of mind and body are necessary. That being said, if one is dealing with mental illness, psychological maladies, the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, sexual maladies, unhealthy sexual tendencies, use of pornography, chronic obesity, or debilitating physical conditions, then the extent of such conditions must be considered when determining whether they will present impediments to priestly ministry. A routine doctor's physical exam is a standard requirement of the application process, as well as a psychological evaluation for all applicants.
How are my grades and academic ability?
Applicants must have the capacity for satisfactory college level and then graduate level academic performance.
Do I have any criminal activity in my past?
All applicants must undergo a criminal background check. If one has a criminal history that suggests danger to others, scandal, untrustworthiness or a tendency to defy authority he will not be permitted to pursue the application process.
How favorable is my employment history?
Maturity, professional competence, careful decision making, stewardship, the ability to work with others, proper etiquette and protocol, good hygiene and attire, respect for authority, judicious use of gestures and respect for boundaries when showing affection, the taking of initiative and other such qualities are to be expected, without exception, of those admitted to priestly formation. If one’s employment history illustrates a pattern that suggests long-term deficiency in these areas, one will not be permitted to pursue enrollment.