This is part 2 of a 4 part series where we asked seminarian Nic Wilson (from St. Jude) about hearing the call of God and his path to priesthood.
If you missed the first post, you can go back and read it here.
After prayer / discernment, what is the process to become a priest? (i.e. what type of school, what type of classes, what happens after seminary?)
The process to become a priest depends on whether you enter seminary immediately after high school or after earning a bachelor’s degree. I entered immediately after high school, so I went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, a college seminary in Winona, MN. At college seminary, a seminarian studies philosophy for four years. My academic classes were held at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, the university adjacent to the seminary. The seminarians all live and pray at the seminary, and the priests on the seminary faculty help seminarians develop in virtue and manners, commitment to prayer, and service to the community.
The other track, for those seminarians who already have bachelor’s degrees, is called pre-theology. Typically, a pre-theology program is connected to a major seminary. Pre-theologians study philosophy as well, but it is condensed into a two year period.
After completing pre-theology or college seminary, a seminarian goes on to major seminary. College seminary forms the man, and major seminary forms the priest. Thus, seminarians in theology school earn Master’s of Divinity degrees. Formation, while building on the lessons and habits fostered focuses more on the practical aspects of priestly life - giving homilies, celebrating sacraments, and offering pastoral guidance.
After three years of major seminary, the seminarian is ordained to the transitional diaconate. He is a deacon for his final year of major seminary, after which he is ordained a priest. From there, the bishop decides where to best send the newly ordained. He will spend a few years with an experienced pastor as he grows into priestly life.