Discernment is an art and it is learned by doing, not just by reading. It is a function of an individual’s personal relationship with the Lord. When we desire to do God’s will, are willing to be open to God and have a solid knowledge of God, then discernment is possible. Therefore, prayer is an essential component of the process of discernment. To be a truly discerning person, we need to be humble, charitable and courageous. As we become more familiar with the Lord in prayer, we will come to know that the ‘small still voice’ speaks in peace never in turmoil.
It is important to note at the outset that each man may not be certain of his vocation before entering a seminary. The seminary is in fact a place where discernment of one’s vocation is further explored, and the calling of God is further understood. Therefore one must not expect ‘writing in the sky’ or some other supernatural sign to provide certainty of one’s call. God’s will for us is to be holy, and how’ we live our life is our vocation.
|“Do not be afraid!
Do not be afraid to give your life to Christ!
Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests at the heart of the Church!
Nothing will ever replace a Mass for the salvation of the world!
Dear young and not so young who are listening to me, do not leave Christ’s call unanswered.”
Pope Benedict XVI, 13th Sept. 2008, Paris.
Hear how to discern your vocation to the priesthood
Where practical, the following are some suggestions which may help one discern the call to the priesthood:
- Daily Mass – One who is discerning a call to priesthood is encouraged to participate in the daily celebration of Mass so that he can grow in his relationship with the Lord. John Paul II said that the Eucharist ‘anchors us in the will of God’.
- Sacrament of Penance – The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is a way in which a man attempts to live a holy life – through the frequent confession of sins and with the grace of God.
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – This is a powerful way to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord and to grow in the spiritual life.
- Daily Prayer – This is time set aside for God alone, usually in a quiet place at a specific time each day. This prayer time might consist of talking to the Lord in one’s own words, writing in a prayer journal or praying the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels. Developing a daily habit and pattern of prayer will help the young man to hear more clearly the call of the Lord.
- Spiritual Direction – Speaking with a priest or qualified individual trained in direction about one’s prayer life and seeking advice from this person on a regular basis is very helpful in the process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
- Discernment Pathway – Attending a weekend vocations retreat or vocations day at a seminary, or joining a discussion group with other young men considering a vocation are invaluable aids in helping one recognize God’s call to priesthood.
- Devotion to the Blessed Mother – Praying the rosary daily and seeking the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother is especially recommended in the discernment process.
- Service – Involvement in some form of service with the Church. For example, outreach to the poor, teaching religious education, assisting with the readings at Mass, taking Holy Communion to the sick, working with the youth of a parish, etc. are ways to give one a taste of ‘ministry’ and are some of the many ways of practicing the Ministry of the church and determining one’s aptitude and desire for ministry and service.
- Talk to a priest – Speaking with your local parish priest may help in discerning the call, and provide information about seminary and priestly life.
- Contact the Vocations Director – who can assist with any queries you have regarding priesthood, discernment or seminary life.
(Adapted from Fishers of Men, 2005.)
|“A priest should be a person of faith and mature character. It is not enough to have only one of these qualities; he must have both, together with good deeds to prove it.”
Admission to St Charles’ Seminary
Those discerning a vocation to the diocesan priesthood in the Archdiocese of Perth should contact Fr Jean-Noël Antoine Marie. He is an experienced spiritual guide and formator who will meet with each person and provide suggestions and a pathway of preparation into seminary life. He will also ask the man discerning to keep in contact with his parish priest. At this stage it is very informal and there is no need to feel pressured or committed.
At the appropriate time, the prospective seminarian will be advised to make a formal application for admission to the seminary. He will need to provide various documents and references which will be submitted to the seminary rector. Towards the end of each year an interview panel meets with each of the applicants. At the conclusion of these interviews, recommendations for admissions are forwarded to the Archbishop who will make a final decision on the applicants’ request.
For more information about the discernment process click here.
Fr. Jean-Noël Antoine Marie
Archdiocesan Vocations Director
21 Victoria Square, Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9220 5901