The Win/Win of Entering Seminary/Religious Life

The beautiful thing about discerning is that it’s a process.  You are constantly praying and walking with your formator/superior and spiritual director to determine what God is calling you to.  Because of that, entering seminary or religious formation isn’t signing on the dotted line saying you’re committing forever.  There’s no small print.  If at any time you feel you know God is calling you away from your discernment to a different path, you’re free to leave.  This creates an amazing win/win situation for people who enter formation who aren’t sure if God is calling them.

Win #1: If you enter seminary/religious life and God is calling you to be a priest/brother/sister, then you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.  You’re being proximately formed for your future ministry spiritually, humanly, intellectually, and pastorally.  This is the pretty obvious win situation.

Win #2:  What if you enter formation, but you’re not called?  Some might consider this a loss, but as I said entering formation is a win/win situation.  If you’re not called to continue after a time, your formational process was not a waste.  My rector in college seminary told the new men on the first day that the primary purpose of the college seminary was not to form priests, but to form saints.  During one’s time in seminary or religious life, they will receive wonderful spiritual, intellectual, and human formation which will easily transfer into the lay life; holiness is universal, and growth in it will not be beneficial to someone only if they complete formation.  If a man enters seminary and eventually discerns marriage, the skills and virtues he learned in seminary will be applicable to an eventual married state.  Even prior to marriage, it’s a great point on the “dating resumé,” so to speak.  The man or woman who discerns out of their formation process is prepared for lay life even better than they were when they entered.

This isn’t to say that everyone should enter formation; if you don’t feel a call at all, don’t force yourself into something that God might not be calling you to.  But seeing as you’re on this blog, you’re probably seriously considering it.  Don’t hesitate to call your vocations director to see if seminary/religious formation is right for you.  You won’t regret it.

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