I think our son has a vocation. What should we be doing?
Parents have a central role in the lives of their children. The home environment should be healthy and happy. The extremes to be avoided are the overly strict household, which smothers the natural happiness and flexibility of daily family life, and the house where there is not enough structure and allows chaos to reign. Every child should know that he will be equally loved and supported no matter what vocation he chooses to follow, and care should be taken to never pressure a child toward a vocation.
On the other hand it would be very wrong to be in any way hostile towards a vocation. We all belong first of all to God, and whatever path He calls someone to is the best possible way of life for that person. Friends, books, television and computers have a great influence on young people. Anything harmful to your children's souls should be kept away from them, and good influences should be brought into their lives. Provide, but do not force them to read, books on the lives of the saints. It would not be too much to occasionally show a family movie of the life of a saint.
With older children who are interested in a vocation, explain to them what a good seminary or convent should be, and help them do research into various promising groups. The group they join will decide the kind of priest or religious they will become, and so the choice must be made very carefully. Above all, pray! As Our Lord said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest." The family rosary should be a daily occurrence, and this is most easily managed if it is prayed at a set time (for instance, immediately after the evening meal). Attending daily Mass, if possible, has a very good effect on children, as well as making confession available on a regular basis.
Do FSSP priests take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience?
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is a Society of Apostolic Life. The Church's Code of Canon Law defines a Society of Apostolic Life as follows: "Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life; their members, without religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to the society and, leading a life in common as brothers or sisters according to their proper manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions" (Can. 731) .
Thus members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter do not take religious vows. Nevertheless at the priest's ordination he solemnly promises to obey his Ordinary, or Ecclesiastical Superior. For the FSSP priest this means he must obey his FSSP Superior in matters regarding the internal life and discipline of the Fraternity and the Diocesan Bishop in other matters regarding the apostolate where he is assigned. Each member incardinated in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter also makes a solemn obligation to preserve perpetual celibacy, the same as other priests in the Latin Rite of the Church. In addition, each member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter must strive to practice the spirit of poverty according to the Constitutions. Thus the priest's salary is quite modest and he strives to live simply, detached from worldly comforts and possessions.
Does one need college experience to become a Fraternity seminarian?
College experience has certain advantages, such as enhancing academic ability and social experience. We recommend at least two years at a good college, but it is not strictly required. With some colleges the academic and moral corruption encountered make them incompatible with preparing for seminary. Please note that we cannot accept men with outstanding student loans (see below).
Will I receive credit at OLGS for Philosophy or Theology courses taken at other institutions?
It is possible that some credit may be given. However, we expect seminarians to go through the entire seven year program at OLGS since the program is much more than academic. Seminarians are given pastoral, spiritual, intellectual, and human formation and we have found that it generally takes seven years for this to be most effective. Therefore do not expect to skip ahead in the program if you have taken Philosophy or Theology elsewhere.
Can you accept men with disabilities?
Some disabilities, such as poor vision, can be easily corrected and do not rule out a priestly vocation. However, any condition that would seriously impair the fulfilling of priestly studies or duties would necessarily eliminate the possibility of a vocation.
Do you have to be an "A" student in the seminary?
The goal of the studies program is not a certain grade point average, but the acquisition of all the knowledge necessary for personal formation, the celebration of Mass, preaching, and giving spiritual counsel. On the other hand, persistently poor grades can result in dismissal from the formation program.
What parts of the Divine Office are recited at the seminary?
The community prays Lauds, Sext, Vespers and Compline together most days. The subdeacons, deacons and priests pray the rest of the breviary on their own each day.
What do seminarians wear?
Before tonsure, which occurs after the beginning of the second year, seminarians wear dress clothes throughout the day, while the rest of the community wears a Roman cassock and collar, and a fascia, more commonly called a cincture.
How much does it cost to educate a seminarian? The actual cost is about $22,000 per year. Most of this cost is paid through the generosity of our benefactors, who deserve our prayers every day. The current charge that FSSP seminarians are responsible for is $7,000 per year for tuition, room and board.
What if I cannot pay for my annual tuition and room/board?
We ask a seminarian to do his best to pay everything he is able to pay. This includes actively seeking benefactors, placing a note in his home parish bulletin, asking priests for financial help, and applying for scholarships with various Catholic support groups. However, if he is unable to raise all of the tuition money, he will not be required to leave. We do not deny entrance to a man due to an inability to pay these charges.
What if I possess some financial debt? Does this exclude me from applying?
Debt does not prevent an application to the seminary, but we cannot ordain someone with a large debt, and so we ask that the issue be resolved in some manner prior to entry. Some find family members or other benefactors to help them, others work until they can pay off the debt. There are various solutions. Those with a serious debt should consult us on an individual basis. Again, the important thing to note is that your debt needs to be resolved in one way or another before you can enter.
Does a seminarian need to get medical insurance?
It is important to be insured. If a seminarian comes without insurance he will be placed on the seminary insurance plan and be asked to reimburse the cost of the premium.
To which FSSP seminary should I apply?
To qualify for studies at our European seminary you should be competent in either French or German for academic studies. Applications for the French/German speaking candidates should be made directly to Saint Peter's Seminary in Wigratzbad.
Are seminarians allowed to go home over the holidays or summer?
The summer break is twelve weeks long, and four weeks are taken by one of many possible summer assignments. Normally, the assignment is to a parish. The work varies depending on the needs of the parish. It can be anything from simple manual labor to assisting with sick calls, training altar servers, teaching catechism classes, to working in the parish office.
I have heard that seminarians spend time at FSSP apostolates over part of the summer. What do they do there?
See question above.
Are seminarians allowed to go home at other times of the year?
Seminarians are allowed to travel home for the Christmas and Easter breaks. Each break generally runs from one to three weeks and generally starts the day after Christmas and the day after Easter.
Are seminarians allowed to use email and own cell phones?
The use of cell phones, under certain restrictions, is allowed to seminarians after their first year. Email is also permitted for seminarians after their first year has been completed.
Are seminarians allowed to bring their own cars?
Can a seminarian have his own laptop?
Yes. Permission to use a computer in class will depend on the policy of individual teachers.
Are seminarians allowed to grow beards/mustaches?
I am a vegetarian. Does this present a problem for my application?
We generally have over ninety people (priests, seminarians, staff) for whom our kitchen must prepare meals. Unless it is due to a diagnosed medical condition, we are unable to accommodate special dietary preferences. Therefore, we expect all seminarians to eat all of the meals prepared for them, even those that do contain meat. This is one of the many rules seminarians need to abide by when living and studying in community.
May I request the apostolate where I will be assigned after ordination?
At ordination you make a promise to the ordaining bishop to obey your legitimate superiors. Although you may be consulted when you are assigned, you will be sent to the assignment that is deemed to be for your good and the good of the Church.
Does the seminary observe Grand Silence?
Grand Silence is observed from after Compline, which begins at 7:30 p.m. It lasts until the end of breakfast the next day at 8:25 a.m.
Can I become a military chaplain?
This is something that would depend on the openness of the military to the liturgical aspects of our charism. The FSSP has no policy against FSSP priests becoming military chaplains. You would need to contact the military branch you are interested in, as they would need to sponsor you for studies here.
What if I am under contract with the National Guard and still have time that needs to be served?
The two weeks, required by the Guard during the summer, may not interfere, since it occurs during a time when the seminarian is not engaged in academic work. However, a conflict may arise because of the one-weekend-a-month Guard requirement that may occur during ordinations and other important events in the life of the seminary. This conflict may prevent us from accepting men under contract to the National Guard.
Can lay people study at the seminary?
The seminary program is only for those in priestly formation.
Can I visit the seminary?
Men may make a discernment visit to the seminary during the academic year. Go HERE for our visitor calendar and for more information. Before purchasing your plane ticket, etc., be sure to fist confirm with the vocations office the dates you are considering, from the available dates on the calendar, to insure that the timeframe is available.
Do you hold formal, structured vocational retreats at the seminary?
No, we do not have any for men who have not previously completed an application. We encourage men to make a private three-four day vocational visit instead. See the question above for details.
I live outside the United States. Can I still apply?
Both St. Peter's Seminary in Germany and Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in the United States are international houses. To study in Germany you should have a working knowledge of written and spoken German or French, and to study in the United States you should have a strong working knowledge of written and spoken English. Problems with English can make it impossible to maintain a good academic record. This is important to keep in mind. In addition, you will have to assume your travel expenses to travel to the seminary each year, as neither seminary pays for travel expenses.
Men who live in, or are from, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Africa, India, Australia or the Asian region need to make contact with the respective vocations directors for their parts of the world. Applications are made directly through them. You can find their contact information on the vocations page.
English is not my primary language. Must I possess a certain competency in English in order to apply?
Although you need not be an expert in the English language, to study successfully you must fully understand both spoken and written English. Serious applicants should work on their English skills and take classes in English,if necessary, before applying.
Do you have a program for Spanish-speaking candidates?
No, not at this time. Please pray for the day when a seminary can be opened in Central or South America. At this time we can accept only those Spanish-speaking candidates who are fluent in English.
You have approved my visit to the seminary and I plan to fly. What airport should I fly into?
Fly into Lincoln (airport code LNK) if at all possible. Sometimes the Omaha airport is considerably cheaper, but from there you will then need to take Omalink, a shuttle service that charges $55 each way, to arrive at the Lincoln airport. You can also consider traveling by train from certain cities, which is cheaper, or, for those needing an absolute bargain, you can travel by bus.
You have approved my visit to the seminary and I plan to drive. How do I get to the seminary?
Click HERE to bring up a Google Map for the seminary.
When do you finalize your decisions on who is accepted for the seminary?
Final decisions are made after a completed application has been submitted and your paperwork has been thoroughly reviewed by the Vocations Director and the priests on the seminary admissions board. Decisons are generally mailed out shortly after the interviews have been completed at the formal vocations retreat.
Is there a deadline for applying to the Seminary?
Candidates may send in their paperwork any time up until the end of May for entrance that coming fall. The seminary is closed during the summer months, and if your paperwork is not completed and received by May, a decision on acceptance will be delayed until the next year. Therefore it is best that you make certain all of your documents are submitted well before the May deadline.
What time of year do men enter the seminary?
The first year men do not enter at the same time as the rest of the seminary. The men studying philosophy and theology arrive at the end of August, whereas the first year seminarians arrive about mid-September.
How long does it take to complete the applications paperwork?
The applications process requires many items, some of which you fill out, and some that is completed by others. It may take several weeks to finalize everything. You are strongly encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible to avoid problems and delayed entrance. You will find the necessary paperwork on our vocations page.
Is there a waiting list for entrance to the seminary?
The Fraternity of Saint Peter has been blessed with many vocations. It is possible to have more candidates than room at the seminary. Therefore it is best to complete your application as early as possible.
Can you recommend any good spiritual books that can assist my preparation and discernment?
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis
Cure of Ars by Abbe Francis Trochu
Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales
Way of Salvation and Perfection by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations by Fr. John Clarke, OCD
Self-Abandonment To Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade
The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade
The Spiritual Life of the Priest by Fr. M. Eugene Boylan, OCSO
The Eternal Priesthood by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning
The Priest Is Not His Own by Bishop Fulton Sheen
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
Conversation With Christ by Peter Thomas Rohrbach
Daily short readings of The New Testament