Seminary Admissions

Before you can be admitted into the seminary, the Church needs to discern your suitability. Unlike many of the other sacraments, a man does not have the ‘right’ to enter the seminary and receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The following is merely a partial listing of the qualities that the seminary and the Archdiocese is looking for: Are you a man of prayer with a genuine concern for the salvation of souls? Do you have a good reputation? Do you listen to others well, and have a healthy way of relating to men and women, and people in a wide variety of circumstances? Do you have the ability to succeed at university studies? Are you able to put the mission of Christ first by exercising mature obedience towards legitimate spiritual authority? Do you love the Church and her official teachings?

The normal path towards Diocesan priesthood is as follows:

Early Discernment
  • Personal prayer often includes Sacred Scripture and a devotional prayer, such as the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy.
  • Most people discerning the beginnings of a calling will often get involved in the parish in a particular ministry, such as Lector, Extraordinary Minister of the Communion, joining the St. Vincent de Paul society, or being an active member of the Pastor Council, and so on.
  • The prospective candidate introduces himself to his Pastor (parish priest), and may begin to seek out the guidance of a Spiritual Director. A Spiritual Director is a good person to talk with about the many questions, doubt and concerns that you may have, regarding the priesthood.
  • Participate in a Vocations weekend retreat or Vocations Fair.
  • Make an appointment to meet with me (the Vocations Director).
  • Attend one of our monthly Priesthood Discernment Group meetings at St. Margaret Mary.
The School of Athens (1509-1511) by Raphael, depicting famous classical Greek philosophers
in an idealized setting inspired by ancient Greek architecture.
Attribution: Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Preparing for the Seminary
  • Before being accepted at a Seminary, you’ll need to take a minimum of 8-10 university courses in Philosophy. The actual course requirements are determined by the particular seminary that you will be attending. Many of our seminary candidates have taken their Philosophy courses at the Dominican College of Philosophy and Theology, here in Ottawa, or at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto.
  • If you’re doing well in your Philosophy courses, and you’ve been discerning your call well with the help of your Spiritual Director, the next step will be my recommendation for you to fill out your Application to the Archdiocese.
  • The Application process to the Archdiocese can take a few months, which is normal. By the end of the process, I will have a recent copy (within the last 6 months) of your Baptismal certificate, personal history and mini-autobiography, family history, medical record, psychological assessment, work history, Criminal Records Check, pastor’s letter of recommendation to enter the seminary, and academic transcript from High School and University.
  • When your application to the Archdiocese is complete, you will meet the Archbishop. Upon his recommendation, you’ll be asked to make an appointment with the Seminary Rector. If the Archbishop is thinking of sending you to St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto, this final interview will consist of the Rector and Vice-Rector, and a few members of the Seminary Faculty. If all is a ‘go’, you’ll be receiving a letter of acceptance from the Rector of the Seminary, welcoming you as a new seminarian!

The Seminary Years

  • It normally takes 6 years of seminary formation, before you will be ordained (God willing).
  • The first year at the Seminary is a year of spiritual formation and orientation to Seminary life. During this year, there are no academic studies. You’ll be making use of one of the Spiritual Directors at the seminary and learning various things about the spiritual life (ex. 30 day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, going on a pilgrimage to a Holy site, learning about seminary life.
  • Following the spiritual year, you’ll be taking your 1st and 2nd year of Theology studies.
  • Following your second year, you will be taking a year out of the seminary, and doing a Parish Internship Placement. This normally runs from September to May, and gives you the opportunity to live in a Rectory and see what life of a priest is really like. You will be a variety of ministries in the parish, under the supervision of the parish priest that you’ve been assigned to.
  • After the internship year, you return to the seminary to complete your 3rd year of Theology. It’s during this time, that you will (most likely, and God willing) be receiving your call to Holy Orders.
  • The 4th year of Theology is often a light year, academically, since your focus will be upon successfully passing your Canonical Jurisdiction and Seminary Integration exams. It’s often during this final year, that you will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate.
  • Once your life at the seminary is complete, you will be awaiting your meeting with the Archbishop to discuss the big day of your ordination to the priesthood! Whew! Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Don’t worry too much about it, though. It’s been my experience that, if you’re not making an idol of ordination itself, and focus on your day to day discernment, the years will go by very fast!