How do I enter the seminary?
Acceptance into the seminary is part of a process of discernment. If you feel yourself called to the priesthood, talk about it with your pastor or another priest whom you trust. They will put you in touch with your vocation director who will help you through a period of discernment. Most dioceses have discernment groups that meet to reflect on what it is to be called. The seminary hosts two Priestly Discernment Retreats annually and your vocation director may direct you to attend one. Your discernment might lead you to beginning the application process. If you have already achieved a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to St. John’s Seminary. If you are still in college, you can join the Juan Diego Formation House which is in Gardena.(see www.juandiegohouse.org) The vocation directors will begin collecting documents for your admission interview, including biography, transcripts, psych. evaluation, letters of recommendation, background check, medical evaluation, etc. You will be scheduled for an interview with the Admissions Committee of St. John’s Seminary.
Is there an age limit for entering the seminary?
There is no technical age limit but there is an understanding that the formation at St. John’s Seminary requires two years of pre-theology for individuals who have their baccalaureate degree but no philosophical studies, four years of theology and one pastoral internship year before ordination. Because of this seven year requirement for many men, it is not practical for anyone over the age of 50 to apply. Older men tend to have a more difficult time with the studies, language requirements and life in community.
What’s the relationship between my diocese and the seminary?
St. John’s Seminary is owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Archbishop keeps a very visible relationship with the seminary. St. John’s also serves a number of other dioceses and religious communities. It works closely with vocation directors and bishops/religious superiors and meets yearly with them to share what is going on with their students. Vocation directors are always welcome.
Who chooses which seminary I attend?
Your bishop, archbishop or religious superior decides on which seminary you will attend. Seminarians from Los Angeles attend St. John’s Seminary, exclusively. Other client dioceses include: Orange, Fresno, San Bernardino, San Diego, Monterey, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon, the Benedictines of Valyermo, the Eudists and Friars of the Sick Poor.
Who pays for the seminary? Me?
It is important that the seminarian not feel that he needs to be ordained because he has spent money on his seminary education. In other words, a seminarian must be able to make his decision freely and without any pressure. The sending diocese or religious community pay the tuition, room and board for the student.
How long is seminary formation?
Seminarians can expect two years of pre-theology, made up of courses in theology, Church culture and ancient languages, followed by four years of theology, including pastoral field education and one year of internship in which the student lives and works in a parish.
What program of studies does this seminary offer?
The Seminary offers an MDiv program, the professional degree for Catholic priests and an MA which some students might wish to take, including a research paper or comprehensive exams.
Can I visit the seminary?
St. John’s Seminary is a closed campus and so visitors cannot just drive in. However, your vocation director would be happy to set up a visit for you. Every year, St. John’s hosts an Open House in the Spring semester. Two Discernment Retreats are also hosted as well as a number of events and fundraisers.