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 (A previously obtained undergraduate college degree is required for those between the ages of 50-55.)
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.
circumstances warrant, be able to obtain and maintain an F-1 Student Visa, a
R-1 Religious Worker Visa, or T.P.S.
(Temporary Protected Status) Visa.
able to converse and write in English at a level acceptable to the seminary
formation program as determined by TOEFL scores.
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.
While applicants for
the priesthood whose marriages have been annulled may have the canonical
freedom to pursue the priesthood, the presumption is normally against
acceptance. It is important to ascertain if and how
previous obstacles to a marriage commitment might create a possible scandal or affect
the man’s viability as a candidate for the priesthood. 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 decree, i.e. Acta (official documentation and evidence for the canonical
decision) are properly made
available to the Office of Vocations for a thorough review, to ensure the reasons and
circumstances that serve as warrants for the declaration of nullity.
by our overall diocesan goal to nurture and develop holy and well formed priests,
the virtue of honesty becomes a critical component of the assessment and
application process for any potential seminarian candidate. If a potential seminarian candidate is not
completely honest with every aspect of this process, then the process will
cease immediately. If, subsequent to
acceptance into our formation program it is discovered that the seminarian had
not been completely honest with every aspect of the application process it will
be cause for immediate dismissal.
assessment and application process or sequence of events generally encompasses
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.
After the interview, the applicant then gathers 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.
After the 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. He then completes the
required seminary application which is compiled with previously submitted material
and is forwarded, by the Office of Vocations, to the seminary. After review, the seminary will write the
candidate informing him of their decision of acceptance or non-acceptance. From time to time the seminary may contact
the candidate to request additional information. Applicants are expected to promptly respond
to, and satisfy such requests. If an
applicant is not accepted either by the diocese or the seminary and he wishes
to apply to another diocese or a religious order, when that diocese or order
requests a copy of the applicant’s Diocese of Arlington application file, a notarized
written letter of permission to release the entire file must be drafted and
signed by the applicant then forwarded to the Director of the Office of
Vocations before such a release request can be honored.
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.
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. Through personal
interaction 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 these seminaries. Seminarians are expected to cooperate fully
with all aspects of these formation programs while they are studying at the
seminary as well as when they are on breaks away from the seminary.
Entering a seminary is not a definite decision to become a
priest. Rather, the seminary is designed
to help one make that decision by means of human, spiritual, intellectual and
pastoral formation. A candidate need not
be absolutely positive, but should
give serious thought to his decision to enter by seeking information and
advice. He should avail himself of the
guidance of competent people, evaluate his motivations, and above all, pray to
the Lord for light, courage and strength to actively discern and explore the
possible vocation to which he is being called.
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)
St. John Paul II Seminary
Pontifical College Josephinum
Casa Sacerdotal de Stabat Mater / Universidad San DámasoMadrid, Spain
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
Mount Saint Mary's Seminary
Pontifical College Josephinum
Theological College at the Catholic University of AmericaWashington, DC
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 (St. 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
(Copyright USCCB Program of Priestly Formation (5th
Edition; #68 & 70)
Seminarians should use good judgment in all their
activities and associations while away from the seminary. One should neither jeopardize nor bring
dishonor to their vocation by placing themselves in compromising situations. The Eucharist is the center of Christian
spiritual formation and during all seminary breaks, Mass should continue to receive
primary emphasis in the life of the seminarian.
Daily participation at Mass should be practiced by all seminarians
Seminarians maintain their seminary spiritual directors
while on seminary breaks. However, while
away from the seminary, especially during the summer, 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 sole source of spiritual direction.
eight week summer assignment normally begins the
Monday after priesthood ordinations.
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 two
parish summer assignments and encompasses all of the offices and ministries of
the diocese. Learning Units normally occur
on Wednesdays between 10:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Actual days and times may vary
depending on the particular unit. Summer Assignment Orientation is for those
seminarians just completing Pre-Theology I or Third College, and is held the
Wednesday of the second week of summer assignments. The Seminarian Learning Unit
is for those seminarians in their second summer parish assignment; and the
Deacon Class Learning Unit is for those in their third summer parish
assignment. All Learning Units being the
second week of the summer assignment and run for six weeks.
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 varies depending on the formation program of the
individual seminary. Ordinations in the
diocese are noted as follows.
to Candidacy - Varies from First Theology -to- Third
Ministry of Lector - Varies from
Pre-Theology I -to- Second Theology
Ministry of Acolyte - Varies from
Pre-Theology II -to- Second Theology
Ordination to Diaconate - Early June after
Ordination to Priesthood - Early June after
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 celebration.
Acolyte is a ministry to which a man 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.
the successful completion of 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 from the Rector and the seminary formation team. 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. Candidates for ordination are not to
send out ordination invitations until they have received their Call to Holy Orders
Letter from the Bishop.
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