Most people in the pews have very little idea of what seminary life is like. Perhaps you’ve seen Richmond seminarians at Diocesan events like DYC, Work Camp, Chrism Mass, or Ordinations — but beyond that, our lives are somewhat of a mystery to you. For someone discerning the priesthood, the mystery surrounding seminary life could be really intimidating and fill you with anxiety.
In the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid!” Seminary is not scary. In fact, if it’s where the Lord is calling you, it will be incredibly life-giving. Having said that, seminary is certainly a unique environment with its own blessings, challenges, and opportunities.Meet Our Seminarians
A Richmond seminarian is a prayerful seminarian. Any and all good fruit that comes from a priest’s ministry is the result of his relationship with God, most especially through the celebration of the liturgy. A good seminarian strives to deepen his prayer life and makes that intimate time with the Lord the priority of his day. Mass, Lectio Divina, silent contemplation, and the Liturgy of the Hours are all important elements of the daily routine of a seminarian. Seminary is the time to discover Christ and to be discovered by Christ so that seminarians can both answer their call to holiness and further their discernment of the priesthood.
Richmond seminarians have the privilege of studying at some of the best seminaries in the world in order to prepare themselves academically, pastorally, and spiritually for their life of ministry. Currently, we have men in formation at the North American College in Rome, St. Mary’s in Baltimore, Theological College in Washington, DC, St. John Paul II College Seminary in Washington, St. Vincent de Paul in Florida, and Sacred Heart in Wisconsin. Seminary classes are rigorous, grad-school level courses, but they are always geared towards living out a healthy priestly life. Class material will often become the subject of personal prayer and pastoral experience.
The seminary is meant to be a place of formation for the ministry of the priesthood, but it is also a time to form and develop lasting friendships. As pastors and priests in the Diocese of Richmond, it is important to stay connected with brother priests. Parishioners at the parish are wonderful to be with and will provide lasting friendships, but the bond between brother priests is unique and indispensable.
It will be your brother priests who best understand what you are going through and who you can relate with as you are united in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, seminary is a place where Richmond seminarians hangout together, watch out for their brothers, pray with and for each other, and support one another.
Life in the seminary is unlike any other. The seminary is filled with men from around the country who are striving to affirm God’s vocational call. Seminarians are always doing something fun and different. When they are not in classes or studying, they have various hobbies and pastimes such as reading, sports, and excursions. Some favorite activities among the Richmond seminarians include hiking, camping, skateboarding, playing guitar and banjo, soccer, playing cards, reading and writing, going to the movies, and, of course, going out with each other to dinner. In seminary, it is important to keep a healthy and balanced routine. Therefore, it is important to include studies, formation, prayer, exercise, the occasional nap(s), and hobbies in the daily routine.
One of the great joys of seminary life is having the opportunity to witness to God’s mercy in the midst of the Church and the wider culture. While in formation, seminarians grow in discipleship and learn how to boldly stand up for the truth of the Gospel with love. When serving at parishes and Diocesan events, seminarians wear “clerics” — i.e. Roman collars — as a sign of the life they are preparing for. The collar is both a joy and a responsibility. It is an outward mark of the interior formation that a seminarian is undergoing in seminary. Furthermore, it’s a witness to the rest of the Church that vocations to the priesthood are thriving, that God is calling even more men to this beautiful life, and that it’s possible to respond to God’s grace and be who you were always created to be.
The reasons why men decide to become priests for the Diocese of Richmond are numerous. Many men choose to serve the diocese because they were born and raised here. Others came to Virginia to work or attend university and fell in love with the area. The diocese is surrounded with beauty wherever you go; from the Blue Ridge mountains to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic oceanfront, our diocese is wide spread and offers a place for everyone.
A call to the diocesan priesthood is a call to serve a particular local church. It is an invitation to lay down your life in self-sacrificial love for the Lord and His people. The Richmond Diocese is a family of people seeking the Kingdom of God. When discerning your vocation, you’ll want to ask: “Lord, who are You calling me to serve? Who do you want me to love?”