1: ASSESSMENT AND APPLICATION PROCESS
2: SEMINARY FORMATION PROGRAMS (Four Areas of Formation)
3: PARISH AND SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS
4: INSTALLATION OF MINISTRIES (Lector and Acolyte)
5: CALL TO HOLY ORDERS (Diaconate and Priesthood)
Baptized, confirmed and practicing Roman Catholic men with a desire to serve God and His people as a priest here in the Diocese of Arlington must possess the following general qualifications:
1. Faith in, and love for Christ and His Church.
2. Good moral character.
3. A high school diploma with favorable academic abilities.
4. Emotional balance and maturity.
5. Good physical health.
6. Psychological readiness and capacity to pursue a sustaining, life-long commitment.
7. A deepening habit of prayer and a balanced devotional life.
8. Maturity to recognize and the willingness to respond to the needs of others.
9. Readiness to serve in the manner to which he is called by God, through his Bishop.
10. A developing spirit of detachment that helps him be in the world but not of the world.
11. Freedom to enter this state in life.
12. Be between the ages of 17-55 (Previously obtained undergraduate college degree required for the upper age limit).
13. Does not have personal
financial liability, i.e. car or personal loans, credit card(s), etc.
verses personal assets that exceeds $3,000; nor have total outstanding
college student loan debt that exceeds $60,000.
14. Have some familiarity
with the Diocese of Arlington and the people with whom the candidate
feels called to serve here as a future priest, i.e. by living (past or
present), working or studying within the diocese. (On a case by case
basis, consideration will be given to those who do not meet this
criterion only after they have seriously considered the possibility of
serving in their home diocese with the consultation of their home Bishop
and/or Vocation Director.)
15. Not suffer from a disordered sexual orientation, i.e. not consider oneself to be homosexual.
16. If the candidate has
previously been dismissed from another priestly formation program or
from an institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life, he
must wait at least two years prior to being considered for the priestly
formation program in the Diocese of Arlington.
17. If the candidate is a
recent convert to the faith or has recently returned to the regular
practice of the faith, he must wait at least two years prior to
acceptance into the priestly formation program in the Diocese of
If a candidate is not currently either a citizen or permanent resident of the United States he must also meet the following:
1. Live on a self-sustaining basis within the Diocese of Arlington for at least two years prior to entering the seminary.
2. Have legal status or lawful presence here in the United States prior to beginning the application process.
3. Be able to obtain an F-1 Student Visa or, if circumstances warrant, an R-1 Religious Worker Visa upon acceptance.
4. Have a command of the English language acceptable to the seminary formation program.
5. Avail himself, on an as
needed basis and at the discretion of the Bishop/Director of the Office
of Vocations, of some form of ‘U.S. Cultural Adaptation Program’ which
could range from seminars or coursework at the seminary to a pastoral
year assignment within the diocese.
applicants for the priesthood whose marriages have been annulled may
have the canonical freedom to pursue the priesthood, the presumption
normally is against acceptance. For such men, an opportunity to apply
for seminary formation will only be considered if the following
additional criteria are met:
1. The marriage ceremony did not take place within the Diocese of Arlington.
2. The candidate has never resided with his former spouse in the Diocese of Arlington.
3. The former spouse does not presently live, nor intends to live in the Diocese of Arlington.
4. All children, from the marriage, are at least 21 years old and are not financially dependent upon their father.
5. The gentleman has settled and concluded all financial obligations pertaining to the marriage.
6. Documents regarding the
civil divorce and tribunal decrees are properly released, or at least be
made available, to the Office of Vocations for a thorough review.
by our overall diocesan goal to nurture and develop holy and well
formed priests, great care is taken to insure a careful and thorough
assessment and application process for all potential seminarian
candidates. This assessment and application process or sequence of
events generally encompass the following:
contact is established, a formal interview follows between the Director
of the Office of Vocations and the potential candidate in which the
following topics are discussed.
into the diocesan priesthood formation program requires that a
candidate demonstrate emotional maturity, academic ability, personal
stability and consistent growth in the practice of the faith. If, after
the formal interview, the director believes the individual possesses
suitable psychological, intellectual and spiritual attributes, the
candidate is then invited to begin the formal application process. The
general components of the application encompasses the following:
the candidate submits all the information and necessary paperwork as
outlined above, the Director of the Office of Vocations, after careful
review and consultation with the Bishop’s delegate for Clergy,
determines if the process should continue. If his decision is favorable,
he then recommends the candidate to the Bishop and discusses with the
Bishop a possible seminary placement.
Bishop reviews the applicant’s file, the Director of the Office of
Vocations notifies the applicant of the Bishop’s initial decision of
acceptance or non-acceptance. Final acceptance by the Bishop is
contingent upon the seminary’s acceptance. If the Bishop grants initial
acceptance, the director also informs the applicant of the particular
seminary where he is being considered to begin his formation. At this
time, the applicant’s Diocese of Arlington application material is
forwarded, by the Office of Vocations, to the seminary. After review,
the seminary will write the candidate directly informing him of their
decision of acceptance or non-acceptance. From time to time the
seminary may contact the candidate to request additional information.
circumstances may adjust or vary the sequence of events outlined above.
The general necessary time frame to compile and complete all required
application material is between two to four months. Applicants normally
receive word of acceptance or non-acceptance within two months of
submitting a completed application, but generally no later than the
first week of July.
The application process is
intended to encourage the candidate to realize that his vocation does
not simply enjoy a personal dimension but rather flows from the Church
and toward ministry within the Church. If accepted, another point of
importance is the realization of the candidate's new status in the local
Church of Arlington. Through personal friendships established with the
Bishop, pastors, other priests, Office of Vocation personnel and fellow
seminarians, the new seminarian will experience more fully the
knowledge that he has a specific identity as a candidate for the
priesthood for the Diocese of Arlington.
In view of the confidence
extended to the seminaries where its seminarians are matriculating, the
Diocese of Arlington entrusts a significant part of the priestly
formation of its men to the formation programs presently utilized by
A candidate for seminary formation need not be
absolutely positive that he is called to the priesthood, but he should
give serious thought to his decision to enter a seminary by seeking
information and advice. He should avail himself of the guidance of
competent people, evaluate himself and his motivations, and above all,
pray to the Lord for light, courage and strength to discern and follow
the vocation that he is being called to embrace.
A candidate accepted by the diocese will, during
the course of his formation, attend the following institution(s) (i.e.,
college seminary or theology seminary) as designated by the Bishop. (See
Other Links: Seminaries)
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
Pontifical College Josephinum
Mount Saint Mary's Seminary
Pontifical College Josephinum
Theological College at the Catholic University of America
Pontifical North American College
Vatican City State, Europe
Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
Human • Spiritual • Intellectual • Pastoral
Formation, as the Church understands it, is not equivalent to a
secular sense of schooling or, even less, job training. Formation is
first and foremost cooperation with the grace of God. In the United
States Bishops’ document The Basic Plan for the Ongoing Formation of
Priests, a reflection on Saint Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 3:17-18 leads to a
description of formation. ‘The apostle Paul marvels at the work of the
Holy Spirit who transforms believers into the very image of Jesus
Christ, who himself is the image of God. This grace of the new covenant
embraces all who have joined themselves to Jesus Christ in faith and
baptism. Indeed, it is sheer grace, all God’s doing. Moved by that
grace, however, we make ourselves available to God’s work of
transformation. And that making ready a place for the Lord to dwell in
us and transform us we call formation."
The seminary and its programs foster the formation
of future priests by attending specifically to their human, spiritual,
intellectual, and pastoral formation—the four pillars of priestly
formation developed in (Pope John Paul II’s Post-Synodal Apostolic
Exhortation) Pastores Dabo Vobis (I will Give You Shepherds). These
pillars of formation and their finality give specificity to formation in
seminaries as well as a sense of the integrated wholeness of the
different dimensions of formation
The sections which follow on human, spiritual,
Intellectual, and pastoral formation are to be read in this unified and
integrated sense. These are neither discrete nor layered dimensions of
priestly existence, but they are nter-related aspects of a human
response to God’s transforming grace.
(Copyright USCCB Program of Priestly Formation (5th Edition-6th Working Draft)
The Eucharist is at the
center of Christian spiritual formation and during parish/summer
assignments, Mass should continue to receive primary emphasis in the
life of the seminarian.
Seminarians maintain their seminary spiritual directors while away
from the seminary. However, they should feel free to receive the
Sacrament of Penance from any number of confessors, (National Shrine,
Franciscan Monastery, or priests of the diocese) while maintaining the
spiritual director at the seminary as their only source of spiritual
Summer assignments normally begin the Monday after priesthood ordinations and run for nine consecutive weeks.
A seminarian works two weekdays
at the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center for the elderly (4650 Taney
Avenue, Alexandria) and resides and assists in a parish one weekday and
also on weekends.
A seminarian works three weekdays at Hogar Hispano and resides and assists in a parish on weekends.
The Summer Learning Unit
Program seeks to give a broad overview and ‘hands on experience’ of
various offices and ministries within our diocese. The total program
spans three parish summer assignments and encompasses 18 areas or
‘Learning Units’. Units are divided into three groupings of six units
per summer. Each learning unit is comprised of an in-house workshop or
presentation and/or an on-site visit with various diocesan ministries or
offices. Learning Units normally occur on Wednesdays between 10 a.m.- 4
p.m. Actual day and time may vary depending on the particular unit.
Learning Units begin the second week of summer assignment and run
through the eighth week of the nine week assignment.
Seminarians petitioning for
Lector, Acolyte, Candidacy or Ordination to the transitional diaconate
or priesthood do so in accord with the norms of the Code of Canon Law,
the Program of Priestly Formation, and the requirements of the seminary
they are attending. The Bishop accepts the seminarian’s various
petitions only upon favorable recommendations from the Seminary Rector
and the Director of the Office of Vocations. Each particular seminary
initiates and facilitates the proper documentation required by the Code
of Canon Law. The usual progression of reception of ministries and
ordinations are as follows. However, the actual timetable may vary
depending on the formation program of the individual seminaries
Ministry of Lector - Spring of First Theology or Fall of Second Theology
Ministry of Acolyte - Spring of Second Theology
Admission to Candidacy - Fall of Third Theology
Ordination to Diaconate - Late May or Early June after Third Theology
Ordination to Priesthood - Early June after Fourth Theology
Lector is one of the
ministries adapted to present day needs in the Latin Church, otherwise
known as Reader. A lector is appointed to read the Word of God in the
liturgical assembly. Accordingly, he reads the lesson from Sacred
Scripture, except the Gospel, in the Mass and in other sacred
celebrations; recites the psalms between the readings in the absence of
the psalmist; presents the intentions for general intercessions when the
deacon or cantor is absent; and may also direct the congregation in
song. If necessary he also assumes the responsibility of instructing
any of the faithful called upon to read the Scriptures in any liturgical
Acolyte is a ministry to
which a person is specially appointed by the Church to assist the deacon
and the priest. His duty is to attend to the service of the altar and
to assist as needed in the celebration of the Mass. He may also
distribute Holy Communion as an Extra-Ordinary Minister of Holy
Communion at Mass and to the sick. An acolyte may be entrusted with
publicly exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration but not with
giving benediction. He may also, to the extent needed, take care of
instructing other faithful who by appointment assist the priest or
deacon by carrying the missal, cross, candles, and similar functions.
Following the successful
completion of all the necessary spiritual preparation, academic studies
and pastoral formation requirements, a seminarian may petition the
Bishop in writing for ordination to the transitional diaconate and
subsequent ordination to the priesthood. Each of these petitions must
be sent, by the seminarian’s Rector to the Bishop along with a report
letter of recommendation. Seminarians must remember that they are never
guaranteed ordination merely because they have completed their seminary
formation or obtained a theological academic degree. To be ordained, a
seminarian must be called by the Bishop (in writing) to the Order of
Deacon or Presbyter. A Call to Holy Orders Letter is sent directly to
the seminary with a copy forwarded to the seminarian.
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