College seminary is a weird place. It often feels like a mix between a frat house, a doomsday bunker, and Catholic Hogwarts. The characters you’ll meet seem like they’re straight out of a 90s sitcom with personalities so extreme that you’ll be amazed that people like this can even exist. You often ask yourself how some of these men would survive in a world outside of breviaries and obligatory daily Mass. But you will also find yourself wondering how you went your whole life without knowing the love your brothers will show you.
Being a veteran seminarian, I felt I should take a break from practical discernment advice and write something strictly for entertainment. I give you, The Five People You’ll Meet in Seminary:
The Amateur Liturgist
This man has a poster of Cardinal Burke hanging above his bed. The only thing he knows better than Bishop appointments in the United States is the 1962 Roman Missal. He is quick to correct your Latin and always knows which Catholic blogs “actually know what they’re talking about.” He flinches every time Pope Francis says he is “open” to something and it is because of this man that you know what the word “dubia” means. Yet he is dedicated and self-assured. Whether or not he’s called to be a priest, he loves the church too much to ever leave. He sees her beauty, and that’s what attracts him. But how does he know which shops in Rome make the best cassocks despite never having left the country? You may never know.
He is pretty sure that God is calling him to be in seminary. But he is almost positive that the girl in the coffee shop is making eyes at him. He just saw on Facebook that his ex-girlfriend is single again. Could this be God asking him out of seminary? What about the C he just received on his Metaphysics test? Does that mean he isn’t called? His Holy Hours consist almost exclusively of asking God for “just one more sign”. What’s the point of doing all of this philosophy homework if he’s just going to have to switch majors next year anyway? Or maybe God will want him back for just one more year. He better ask for his spiritual director’s opinion just one more time.
She might be another seminarian’s sister or maybe she just likes coming to daily Mass at the seminary. Either way, you’re pretty sure she’s not a chalice chipper. She exemplifies the feminine genius and you’re not too afraid you’ll scandalize her with your humor. But she also isn’t afraid to tell you what she wants to see in good priests. She’s a mix between a mom and a friend, and gives you hope that non-romantic relationships can exist between men and women.
The polite term for this man is the “later vocation”. This man is sick and tired of 20-somethings staying up past 10pm outside of his room. He doesn’t have time for video games or late night Taco Bell runs, but he’s the only one that knows what all the remotes do in the community lounge. He’s already confident in his vocation and wants nothing more than to not have to share a bathroom with anybody. He is a walking role model for trusting in God, although he would disagree if you told him that. Either way, it’s an exercise in humility every time he has to tell a priest 10 years younger than him that he overslept. But through his perseverance, you know he believes the priesthood is worth it.
This man was called from the womb. He’s friendly, compassionate, and is always willing to lend a listening ear. He has an authentic zeal for souls and isn’t afraid to lightly tease the priests at the dinner table. His piety and enthusiasm is everything you want to be as a priest, and his humanity makes it achievable. Although he is roughly your age, you kind of look up to him. You find yourself looking at his qualities and seeing him make a good husband and father. And then you realize–that means he will make an excellent priest. There may still be hope for you.