Vocational Discernment and Application Process
The Director of Vocations directly facilitates the on-going discernment process for individuals interested in becoming candidates for priestly formation in service to the Diocese of St. Augustine. Individuals discerning Our Lord’s vocational calling formally enter into this period of discernment with the Director of Vocation and their parish priest(s) or another priest when a Confidential Information Form for seminary applicants to the Diocese of St. Augustine is requested. Upon the recommendation of the Director of Vocations, the individual who wishes to continue this discernment process and priestly formation within the seminary community may submit an application. The application requests the following information:
- Personal Background
- Family Background
- Religious Background
- Employment History
- Health Information
- Canonical Documents
- Letters of Recommendation
In addition to the above, the application process also requires the following:
- Physical Examination
- Psychological Evaluation
- Criminal Background Check
- On-going interviews with the Director of Vocations
- Interview with members of the Vocations Board and the Bishop
Upon acceptance by the Bishop as a candidate for priestly formation, the Bishop decides (in consultation with the Director of Vocations) upon the seminary for the candidate’s on-going program of priestly formation resulting in a formal application to a seminary.
Seminary Application and Admissions Requirements
Seminaries only accept students who are sponsored by a diocese or religious community. Formal application to the seminary is made only after a candidate has been accepted by the Diocese of Saint Augustine as a seminarian. The Director of Vocations assists in the seminary application process. After receiving the required application forms from the seminary, the applicant completes the various forms as thoroughly as possible. Upon completion, all forms are returned to the seminary. The Vocation Office forwards the canonical documents, letters of recommendation, and any high school and college transcripts not previously sent directly to the seminary by the issuing institution. The applicant must request two sets of official high school and college transcripts: one set each to be sent to the Vocation Office and the seminary, respectively. In addition, some seminaries require admissions testing and interviews. Further information in this regard will be provided if applicable to the candidate.
As part of their formal application process, some seminaries require that all applicants travel to the seminary for interviews with the rector and/or members of the Seminary Admissions Committee. In such cases, the Director of Vocations will facilitate the dates and travel arrangements for this purpose.
If you are discerning a call to the priesthood and have graduated from high school but not from college, you may begin the application process to become a seminarian for the Diocese of St. Augustine. After you are accepted as a seminarian, you will begin the process of priestly formation a seminary college.
If you have completed an undergraduate degree and feel that God is calling you to the priesthood, you may begin the application process to become a seminarian for the Diocese of St. Augustine. Once you are accepted as a seminarian, you will begin the process of priestly formation by attending a two-year Pre-Theology program at a seminary.
A candidate for a major seminary (graduate school of theology) must be a seminarian who has graduated from a college seminary or completed the requirement of a seminary’s Pre-Theology program. Usually, the program of formation at a major seminary includes four years of study and one year of pastoral internship.
Seminary Academic Grade Reports, Evaluations and Update Letters
All seminary academic grade reports and student evaluations are released to the Bishop and the Director of Vocations. The Bishop and the Vocations Office monitor the seminarians’ progress while in seminary formation, and we extend our support, affirmation and challenge for continued growth and development.
Seminary Policies and Expectations
The Diocese of Saint Augustine through the Vocations Office complies with all policies and expectations of the various seminaries with which we are affiliated for the education and formation of seminarians. Every effort is made to cooperate fully with each respective seminary’s program of priestly formation. The Director of Vocations serves as the liaison between the Bishop and the rector of each seminary, as well as facilitates all matters pertaining to seminarians in formation for the Diocese of Saint Augustine.
Seminarians are encouraged to take every opportunity available within their respective seminaries to familiarize themselves with, and become sensitive to, the Hispanic, Asian and African American cultures that comprise a sizeable segment of the Catholic population within the diocese. Seminarians are strongly encouraged to study the Spanish language while in the seminary. All seminarians entering formation must have a basic knowledge of pastoral Spanish by the time of ordination to priesthood. Priesthood candidates are also encouraged to attend the various programs and workshops offered in the diocese for ministering to the deaf or the visually impaired.
Summer Pastoral Placements
Each candidate will be assigned to a summer pastoral placement prior to the next academic cycle. The summer program commences usually around mid to late May through the first week of August. The purpose of these placements is three-fold:
1) To gain experience in parish ministry
2) To gain experience in public life and rectory living
3) To gain experience in the urban, suburban and rural areas of the diocese
Each pastoral placement will provide a supervisor who will orient the seminarian to the parish, structure his work assignments, share this information with the pastor and provide an evaluation of the summer experience.
The Director of Vocations will review both the supervisor’s and the seminarian’s evaluation of the summer experience. The Director of Vocations will send copies of both evaluations to the seminary for incorporation into the seminary’s formation program.
The Diocese of Saint Augustine requires that major seminarians participate in a non-ordained Pastoral Year. This will normally occur after the second year theology. The purpose of the Pastoral Year is to assist the seminarian in the continued development of his personal growth and pastoral skills within a parish setting in the diocese. The Director of Vocations and the Pastor/Associate of the parish in which the seminarian is assigned supervise the Pastoral Year. The Pastoral Year provides an opportunity to gain pastoral experience, which will be vital to the seminarian’s continued priestly formation, theological studies and theological reflection.
Zero Tolerance Policy
If a seminarian is found to be using illegal drugs, or involved in any kind of immoral sexual behavior, he is entitled to due process and, if found guilty, will be immediately dismissed as a seminarian from the diocese.
For Further Information
Please contact the Vocation Office at (904) 262-3200, ext. 101 or call toll free (800) 775-4659, ext. 101. The Vocation Office is located at the Catholic Center, 11625 Old St. Augustine Road, Jacksonville, FL 32258. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Father David Ruchinski, Vocation Director or Kathy Martens, Administrative Assistant, will be glad to help you.