Photo by Rochester Churches

Steps to Priesthood


Many priests have said that taking the first step was the hardest. We’re here to help!

1) Contact: Get in touch with the Vocations Office. They are a valuable source of information and work with men on a case-by-case basis to guide each individual through the discernment and application process.

2) Candidate: Apply to begin a formal period of discernment with other men considering priesthood. The required period of candidacy, or pre-theology, is 2 years. This will be at St. John’s Seminary in Boston.

3) Seminarian: The candidate, sponsored by his diocese, enters seminary to begin his priestly formation and theological studies. At this point he is called a seminarian. There are generally four years of seminary study, plus one year working in a parish of the diocese.

4) Transitional Diaconate: About 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 from the Permanent Diaconate). The transitional deacon makes promises of celibacy and obedience to the Bishop.

5) Priesthood: After much work and many prayers, the man is recommended for ordination to priesthood.


Getting ready to begin college or working on your degree?  Talk to us!  There are programs for you, too.  Sometimes a young man will desire to begin his formation while obtaining his undergrad degree (see ‘Our Seminarians‘).


If you are at least 20 years of age and have earned an undergraduate college degree (or, if you are close to earning one), you may want to consider applying to seminary. Keep in mind the education requirements for entering major seminary. (Note:  many of the philosophy and religious studies requirements can be satisfied in a pre-theology program).

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum 30 hours of approved philosophy courses
  • Minimum 12 hours of approved religious studies
  • Of course, full initiation in the Catholic Church is also a requirement. That is to say, you must have received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.


The Diocese of Rochester currently uses the following seminaries:

  • Pontifical North American College, Vatican City, Europe
  • St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA
  • Our Lady of Providence Seminary