Seminary Life

What Is Seminary?

Seminary is a college or university that prepares young men from the Archdiocese of Seattle to be good, effective priests for the people of God in Western Washington. Our seminarians study in seminaries across the United States and Europe.

Typical studies combine the four primary areas of formation for our seminarians: Spiritual, Intellectual, Pastoral, and Human Formation. These are the basic tools of seminarian formation. All activities, classes, retreats, etc. stem from these four pillars.

The 4 Pillars of Formation

How long does it take to become a priest?

This depends on when and where one starts. A young man who enters college seminary immediately or shortly after high school will spend the traditional four years there, getting a sound foundation in philosophy and the other liberal arts, then move on to the theological seminary (called a theologate) for four more years of specialized study in Scripture, Theology, Church History and related fields. He would spend a total of eight years in the seminary after high school, comparable to law school, M.B.A. or medical school.

Some men begin their preparations for the priesthood after already obtaining a college degree (and even graduate or professional degrees). Usually they need philosophy and preliminary level theology before moving on to graduate level theology. Therefore, they enter a one-year or more often two-year program called Pre-Theology, in which they earn a Masters in Philosophy. Once prepared in this way they enter the usual four-year theologate. They spend a total of five or six years in the seminary.

Pastoral Internships

Along with formal training in philosophy and theology, the spiritual life and practical skills for priesthood, some diocese have seminarians spend some summers as pastoral interns in a parish and sometimes this is extended for an entire year where it would be useful. Seminarians also participate in special summer programs to deepen their spiritual life or their appreciation of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture.

Formation and Evaluation

Since the priesthood is not just a career but a whole way of life and service, priestly formation takes in the entire person: spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral. The specific needs of each candidate are continually evaluated and every effort is made to give him the assistance he needs. The candidate must also “take the reins” of his own priestly formation, rather than being a passive subject.