What are the requirements to enter seminary?

In the Archdiocese of Washington there are several requirements to be considered for admission to the priest formation program. In addition to a strong faith, fidelity to the Church, and life of virtue, these requirements include:

  • Residency: The presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Washington includes many men who are not originally from the Washington area, a fact that contributes to the richness of the priesthood in this region. However, a man should have lived in or near the Archdiocese for at least one year before applying for the priesthood here. Foreign-born men are welcome to apply — Washington is a very cosmopolitan diocese and many of our priests and current seminarians were born in other countries — but they should have lived for at least three years in the United States, one of those years in the Washington area. This is to give them time to pass through the initial phase of adapting to a new country and culture and, often, a new language.

  • Age: A young man may apply for the seminary for this Archdiocese after completing high school. The upper age limit is normally fifty years because of the length of time required for seminary training and the reality that illnesses often increase and energy decreases with age. The older a man is, the more rooted he should be in the Archdiocese. Candidates in their late twenties and thirties are common.

  • Education: A high school diploma or G.E.D. is required to enter college seminary. Ordinarily a college degree is required to enter theology.

  • Health: Good physical and mental health are required and must be certified by health care professionals because of the life-long demands of the priesthood for physical stamina and emotional stability.

Candidates for the seminary in the Archdiocese of Washington come from a great variety of backgrounds. Some enter the seminary right out of high school, others enter after pursuing a long professional career, and many enter after college and a few years in the workforce. Those experiences all contribute to the unique make-up of the priesthood and to the individual ministry of each priest.