How does a man become a priest?
Becoming a priest involves several stages. While these vary slightly from diocese to diocese in length of time and format, the following outline is offered as a general view of formation programs:
INQUIRER: A man who is interested in the priesthood but still searching for the answer to the question "What does God want of me?" could join a program of "contact" with the diocese. (See Discernment page) Usually, he may speak to his pastor or contact the Vocation Director. This is usually a very flexible program whereby the man meets with a priest and or a group of others interested in the priesthood on a regular basis and shares in experiences of prayer and community.
APPLICANT: A more formal relationship with the diocese occurs when the man becomes a candidate. At this time he begins the process of interviews and meetings with the members of the diocesan vocations office under the direction of the Vocation Director. An application is given to the person to fill out.
SEMINARIAN: The candidate, sponsored by a diocese, now enters a seminary to begin his priestly formation and theological studies. At this point he is called a seminarian.
TRANSITIONAL DIACONATE: About 6 months to a year before ordination to the priesthood, the seminarian is ordained to the Transitional Diaconate (so named because the seminarian is in transition to the priesthood, and to differentiate this from the Permanent Diaconate). The man makes promises of celibacy and obedience to his Bishop.
PRIESTHOOD: After much work, and a lot of prayers, the man is ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders.