Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
I think my son is too young to make a commitment to attend college seminary and study for the priesthood. Would it be better for him to major in something like business to fall back on and take a minor in Catholic Studies or Philosophy?
Ask yourself this: If your son said that he wanted to be a pre-med student at Seton Hall and then go to medical school so that he could become a cardiologist, would you worry that he is too young? You would most likely think to yourself that he has time to discover during college whether he really feels called to be a physician. You have probably known at least one person who changed majors in college, maybe even yourself back in the day. The fact is college seminary is just like this. Men enter with varying degrees of certainty that they have a priestly calling. Some men in college seminary will discern that they are not called to the priesthood and withdraw from the program at some point in their formation. This is fine. All your (arch) diocese expects of your son is that he seriously and prayerfully engage in the formation program and use that experience to discern whether he has a calling to Christ's Holy Priesthood. The Church offers your son the freedom to say "yes," "no," or "not yet." Whatever your son discerns, he will leave college seminary a better Christian gentleman.
That seems like a rather weighty decision for my son to make. I am worried that he will not get it right. Would you say something about this concern?
Certainly. Discerning a call to the priesthood involves God, the seminarian, and the Church. Your son may prayerfully believe that God is calling him to Christ's Holy priesthood. The Church for her part, through your son's mentor priest and spiritual director at the seminary, as well as your son's bishop and vocation director, will ultimately affirm or disconfirm whether what is in your son's heart is from God. Also, remember that this process may take several years, and it is not until at least the seventh year of formation when, as a major (graduate level) seminarian, the seminarian's bishop calls the man to Holy Orders. In other words, there is a lot of time!
How may I, as a parent, best support my son in the college seminary?
First, pray for your son. We can get caught up in the moment and forget that the Church, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over more than 2000 years, has developed the program of priestly formation and discernment process. Pray that your son has the courage to immerse himself in the process and that he have perseverance to continue over the long haul. Second, be supportive of him. Third, give him the space and the permission to discover how God is calling him, however that might be.
What if my son completes college seminary with a B.A. in Catholic Theology and decides that he is not called to the priesthood. How can he use this major?
Men who complete their degree and discern that they do not have a call to the priesthood have several options available to them. St. Andrew's College Seminary has had men go on to teach, attend graduate school and law school, enter the business world, and become lay missionaries.
Does my son need to be certain that he has a vocation to the priesthood to attend college seminary?
No. In fact, most men entering college seminary are far from certain that they have a vocation to the priesthood. What they all share, however, is a desire to take the time to discern whether the Lord is calling them to the Catholic priesthood.
I am concerned that my son will be "sheltered" from regular university students. Will my son have the opportunity to interact with college students who are not seminarians?
Your son will have regular opportunities to interact with non-seminarians. Most of the students in the university core required courses that your son will be taking are not seminarians. A seminarian has open electives as a part of his curriculum in which he can take courses in other disciplines. In addition, all college seminarians are encouraged to participate in the various extracurricular activities on campus. In recent years the college seminarians have participated in activities such as intramural sports (e.g., soccer, basketball, volleyball, and flag football), the university symphony orchestra, the university chorus, campus ministry, SHU for Life, and the Rock Climbing Club. In addition, a college seminarian has also served as representative for the School of Theology on the University Senate.
May my son take on a minor or even a double major?
A college seminarian whose academic progress is exemplary may take a minor or a second major after discussion with a seminarian's formation advisor, the college seminary rector, the academic dean, and the seminarian's vocation director.
Assuming my son graduates with his degree and discerns that he is called to the priesthood and the major seminary, does he automatically go on to continue his studies at Seton Hall's Graduate School of Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary (ICS)?
The seminarian's bishop typically decides where a college seminarian will do his graduate level (major) theology seminary. That may or may not be ICS. Seminarians of the Archdiocese of Newark typically attend ICS for their graduate studies and formation.
Will my son be able to come home on weekends? Also, will we be able to visit him?
Approximately once per month, when there are no other scheduled breaks, the college seminary has a "free-weekend" during which all seminarians are free to leave the house for the weekend. Families may visit St. Andrew's Hall as guests when no formation activities are scheduled.
Is there a dress code for college seminarians?
The college seminary encourages each seminarian to witness the value of simplicity in his life and to show respect for others in his attire. As such, it has a dress code for events ranging from daily Mass and community prayer to community conferences and trips off campus. Formal attire consists of a black suit, white shirt, black necktie, black shoes and black socks. Men generally wear casual attire to their classes.
My son is a sophomore at another college. Does he need to spend four years at the college seminary?
St. Andrew's College Seminary has accepted transfer students from various colleges and majors. There are young men who, after completing some portion of their undergraduate studies, decide they would like to enter college seminary. A man who has completed his first one or two years of undergraduate study in another major or at another university or college is typically able to compete his undergraduate major requirements in catholic theology and graduate "on time." This may require that he take one or two courses during summer school. Note, however, that discernment is not measured solely by the number of credits completed but also how the seminarian grows in his faith and experiences the call of Christ in his life.