By Sean Mulcare
Editor’s note: Sean just graduated from college/minor seminary at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, MN. The experience here describes much of seminary in general, but especially a college/minor seminary environment.
As I’ve just graduated from the first half of my seminary formation, I am moved to reflect on the blessing that the past four years have been and to give a snapshot of what seminary looks like in order to help anyone who is discerning a potential call to understand. Simply said, seminary is a truly amazing place, and it has been among the best years of my life. It is a place to discern a potential call to the priesthood. Discernment above all involves falling in love with God. Seminary teaches us how to develop a living relationship with God, and we learn through experience that our relationship with God can sustain us and can actually fulfill us for a lifetime. When I came to seminary, I was not sure if I was called to be a priest. This is a very common thing because seminary is a place of discernment. You don’t need to be anywhere near sure you want to be a priest to enter the seminary. If you are unsure about your vocation but think there could be a chance, seminary is a place to discern that. Even if you aren’t called to the priesthood, the blessings that you receive at seminary are very beneficial. It’s like going to college but having a hundred other guys who are automatically your friends, and not only friends, but friends who are pursuing the same goal as you: love of God. Having these people around you all the time definitely influences you and makes you want to strive for holiness yourself. It is a place where you will grow in ways you may not have known you needed to grow, and sometimes that growth is difficult. However, looking back, it is so worth it. Growth is so difficult to do on your own, but seminary is a place of community, and with that community comes growth. The word “seminary” actually means seedbed. We are all like seeds, and seminary provides an ideal environment for our seeds to grow. Seminary is definitely fertile ground.
A misconception that people have about seminary is that seminarians just pray and study all day. Although these things are a big part of our lives, there are many other things that we do. We are like normal college students with normal college student work who we want to love God the best we can. We go to Mass every day, and we pray for an hour a day. This may seem like a lot, but you quickly fall in love with it, and you wonder how you could have ever lived without it. People in the seminary are normal. They play sports and board games, go biking, have bonfires, and do many other things like that. Seminary is like college with some more structure, more prayer, and more fruitful community.
This is a little snapshot into what seminary is like, but there is so much more that could be said. There are countless blessings that I have received these past four years, and I am so grateful for all of them. I could go on and on about how great seminary is and the impact that it has had on my life. Even if I were not called to be a priest, I would be incredibly grateful for the past four years. Next time, we will talk more about how to go about discerning a vocation.
If you have an attraction to the priesthood or feel like this could be a possibility, contact the Diocese of Superior vocations director, Fr. Thomas Thompson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.