by Father Mitchel Zimmerman
It is hard to get young men (and parents!) over their fear of seminary. It is almost impossible to get a guy to even go look at a seminary, much less enter one.
There is this stigma that to enter seminary, you must first be absolutely sure of your vocation to the priesthood, be holy beyond reproach, and be ready to completely detach yourself from the “real world.”
These are admirable goals, but hardly necessary for a young man thinking of a vocation to the priesthood. Seminary is not for the already perfect. Seminary is for regular guys, and thus is not a scary place at all!
Of course, the attention given to prayer and formation makes it a more intense environment than other colleges, but that intensity is balanced with lots of time for friendships and recreation. Ask a priest or our seminarians. Seminary is not a scary place. It is a fun place to be!
I often get the question regarding my own path to priesthood: “Aren’t you glad you got a taste of the real world before committing your life to the priesthood?”
Well, the answer is yes and no. Even as I am grateful for everything I experienced and learned at KU and in the real world before I entered seminary, and even though I can see God’s providence at work throughout my life, it is not necessarily true that I am a better priest today because I waited to enter seminary until I was 25.
The real world is a great place to learn life’s lessons, but the reality is that the seminary was eventually the best place for me to be able to make the changes God was asking me to make and to become the man God was calling me to be. People are unnecessarily afraid of seminary, which is almost always the most chaste, most virtuous, most prayerful and most intellectual environment a young Catholic man has available to him.
Seminary is not a scary place. Don’t be afraid to make a visit! You will have an experience that you can draw upon during future years of discernment. You will find seminary to be a uniquely challenging environment, but also a fun place where one can mature spiritually, intellectually and socially.
There is not undue pressure to become a priest if God is not calling you! Our seminaries are not cut off from the world. It is easy to maintain friendships and even to get away once in awhile. (I even kept my KU football tickets when I was in seminary!) Guys spend about 200 days a year in seminary, and 165 back home within the archdiocese. Let me know (vocation@ archkck.org) how I can help facilitate a visit for you or your family.
Don’t be scared of seminary — give it a look!
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