Accountability at Our Seminaries

A vocation to the priesthood comes to a young man in the form of a personal call from God — a call that was present from all eternity in the will of God.

During one’s time in formation for the priesthood, it is imperative that a young man grows in holiness, self-awareness, and in personal maturity to the extent that he is “found worthy” to serve God’s people in ordained ministry.


I. Where the Church has come in the last 30 years

Since the explosion of recent revelations of scandals within the Catholic Church, the question of the health of our seminaries has come to the fore.

It has become increasingly clear that there was a particularly difficult time for our seminaries in the years after the Second Vatican Council. Here are a few factors:

  • The Sexual Revolution
  • A Complacent Church
  • Poor Screening
  • Theological Confusion

“It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated.” – Pope Benedict XVI

II. What we do prior to entry into seminary

A man going into the seminary for the Diocese of Phoenix only after significant discernment on his part and that of the Church:

  1. Getting to Know the Discerner
  2. The Application Process
  3. Evaluations and Testing
  4. Recommendation to the Bishop

“My aim is to do not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (Jn 5:30)

III. What happens at the seminary

When one is admitted to seminary, he begins what we call “formation.” This happens in a community that includes seminarians, priests and lay professors and staff.

The Church’s vision for formation is expressed clearly in Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis. There are four essential areas of a seminarian’s formation and preparation to be a balanced, holy, learned, and effective priest. These areas of priestly formation, in summary, may be represented as follows:

  1. Human Formation
  2. Spiritual Formation
  3. Intellectual Formation
  4. Pastoral Formation
Learn More: Formation in the Seminary