Frequently Asked Questions
We think our son has a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. What should we do now?
Parents have the central role in the lives of their children. The home environment should be positive and orderly. Extremes should be avoided. An overly strict household tends to smother the natural happiness and flexibility of family life. A household with insufficient structure allows chaos to reign. Every child should know that he is loved and supported, regardless of which vocation he chooses to follow. Care should be taken, however, to avoid pressuring a child toward a specific vocation.
Conversely, it is harmful to be hostile toward a specific vocation. Fundamentally, we all belong to God, and the best possible life for us will be that to which He calls us. Friends, books, music, television, computers and smartphones have a great influence on young people. Anything harmful to children’s innocence or virtue should be kept from them – and any good influence should be encouraged and maintained in the family environment. Provide and encourage them to read good books, including the lives of the Saints. Good video productions of the lives of the Saints are also recommended.
For older children who are interested in a vocation, explain to them what an orthodox seminary or convent should be, and help them to research the more promising communities. The group they join will decide what kind of priest or religious they will become, and so the choice must be made very carefully. Above all, pray for God’s guidance! 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 (e.g. immediately after dinner). Attending daily Mass, if possible, has a very good effect on children. Making confession available to them on a regular basis (without obliging them to go) helps to instill virtue.
To which FSSP Seminary should I apply?
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, USA accommodates English-speaking students. The Seminary of St. Peter in Wigratzbad, Germany accommodates French and German-speaking students, and applications to that Seminary should be directed to their office. See the website www.fssp.org for more information on both seminaries.
I live outside the United States. May I still apply?
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary and the Seminary of St. Peter are both international houses. You may apply to either, subject to the language restrictions noted in the above question. We may require you to meet with one or more of our priests at a suitable location nearest to your home or school, prior to an application process. If you are eventually accepted, you would be responsible for your INS fees and documentations - and your travel expenses to and from your home country.
Do you have a formation program for Spanish-speaking candidates?
No – not at this time. Please pray for the day when a house of formation or seminary can be opened in Central or South America. However, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary will accept Spanish-speaking students who are fluent in English.
English is not my primary language. Must I possess competency in English in order to apply?
Although you need not be an expert in the English language, in order to study successfully at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, 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.
Will you accept men with disabilities?
Some disabilities, such as poor vision, can be easily corrected and do not rule out a priestly vocation. A condition, however, that would seriously impair the fulfilling of priestly studies or duties would necessarily eliminate the possibility of a vocation with the Fraternity.
How much does it cost to form 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, room and board?
We ask our seminarians to do their best to pay everything they are able to pay. This includes actively seeking benefactors, requesting help in local parishes, asking priests to assist or recommend means, and applying for scholarships to various Catholic support groups and foundations. If, however, one is unable to raise all of the charges, he will not be required to leave. We do not deny entrance to an applicant due to an inability to pay these charges.
What if I have 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. We ask that the issue be resolved in some manner prior to entering the Seminary. Some men find family members or other benefactors to help them and other aspirants work until they can pay the debt. There are other solutions, as well. Those men with a serious level of debt should consult us on an individual basis. Again, the important factor to note is that your debt must be resolved in one way or another before you can enter.
Does a seminarian need to have medical insurance?
This is now required by law, and cannot be avoided. If a man enters without insurance, and is otherwise unable to provide his own plan, he can be placed on an FSSP group plan, and will be required to reimburse the seminary for the monthly premium.
Do I need college experience to become a Fraternity seminarian?
College experience has many advantages, such as enhancing academic ability, learning independence and broadening social experience. We recommend at least two years at a good college or university, but this is not strictly required. With some colleges, the academic and moral corruption encountered make them incompatible with preparing for the seminary. Please note that we cannot accept men with outstanding student loans.
Will I receive credit at OLGS for Philosophy or Theology courses taken at other institutions?
It is possible that some credit may be allowed. However, we expect our seminarians to experience the entire seven year program at OLGS, since the program is much broader than academics. 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 move ahead in the program if you have taken Philosophy or Theology elsewhere.
Do I need to be an “A” student in the seminary?
The goal of the academic program is not a certain grade point average, but the acquisition of all the knowledge necessary for personal formation, the celebration of the Mass, preaching and giving spiritual counsel. Nevertheless, persistent poor grades can result in dismissal from the formation program.
Is there a waiting list for entrance to the Seminary?
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been blessed with many vocations. It is possible to have more candidates than available rooms at the Seminary. Therefore, it is best to complete your application as soon as possible.
May I visit the Seminary?
You may make an informal discernment visit to the seminary during the academic year. Go HERE for our visiting calendar and for more information. Before making any concrete plans, be certain to contact the Vocations Office with your contact information and a brief description of your current life situation, as well as your proposed visiting dates. The Vocations Office will notify you of its agreement with your plans.
You have approved my visit, and I plan to fly. Which airport should I use?
Please use Lincoln Municipal airport (LNK) if possible. We will meet you at the airport upon your arrival and return you there for your departure. If the schedules or rates determine that Omaha Eppley Airfield (OMA) is best, please utilize the commercial van shuttle (OmaLink) to take you from Omaha to Lincoln airport, where we will meet you. You may access OmaLink on their website to determine their rates and schedules.
Are there other transportation modes available to the Seminary?
Lincoln is served by Amtrak rail, although sparingly. Lincoln is also served by Trailways bus lines. We can meet you at either station. If you elect to drive to the Seminary, click HERE to bring up a Google Map for the Seminary’s location. The exact street address is 7880 West Denton Road, Denton, Nebraska 68339.
Do you hold formal, structured vocational retreats at the Seminary?
No, we do not have any retreats for men who have not previously completed a formal application. We encourage men to make the informal 3-4 day vocational visit instead. See the questions above for details.
Is there a deadline date for applying to the Seminary?
Candidates may send in their documents at any time until May 15, for entrance the following Fall. The Seminary is closed during the summer months, and if your application is not completed and received by May 15, a decision on acceptance will be delayed until the next year. Therefore, you should make certain all of your documents are submitted well before the May 15 deadline.
How long does it take to complete the application documents?
The application documents are many; some of which you complete, some of which you compose and others that are completed by others. It will normally take several weeks to finalize all required documents. You are encouraged to begin the process as soon as you have made your decision to apply, to prevent problems and delays. All of the necessary documents are found on our Vocations Page.
When do you finalize your decisions as to who is accepted to the Seminary?
Final decisions are made after a completed application has been submitted, your documents have been thoroughly reviewed by the Vocations Director and an interview with the priests on the Seminary admissions board has been made during the formal Vocations Retreat.
What time of year do men enter the Seminary?
The first-year men do not enter at the same time as the returning seminarians. The men studying Philosophy and Theology return at the end of August. The first-year seminarians arrive in mid-September.
What do seminarians wear?
Prior to Tonsure, a ceremony that occurs after the beginning of the second year, seminarians wear dress clothing throughout the day. This includes necktie and sweater or coat, slacks and dress shoes. Those tonsured wear a Roman cassock, collar and fascia (commonly called a cincture). Informal clothing for manual labor and athletics are worn at appropriate times.
Are seminarians allowed to grow beards/mustaches?
Are seminarians allowed to bring their own cars?
Are seminarians permitted to bring laptop computers?
Yes. Permission to use a computer in class will depend on the policy of the individual professor.
Are seminarians permitted to use email and 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 completion of their first year.
Do seminarians receive mail and packages?
Yes. Received mail and packages are distributed daily. Outgoing mail is posted daily.
May I practice a preferred diet, such as vegetarian, vegan, etc.?
We have over ninety persons (seminarians, priests, staff) to prepare meals for. Unless it is due to a medically diagnosed condition, we are unable to accommodate special dietary preferences. Accordingly, 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.
What parts of the Divine Office are recited at the Seminary?
The community prays Lauds, Sext, Vespers and Compline together during most days. The subdeacons, deacons and priests pray the rest of the breviary in private.
Does the Seminary observe Grand Silence?
Grand Silence is observed from after Compline (about 8:00 pm) until the end of breakfast the following morning (8:25 am).
Are seminarians permitted to go home during the summer?
The summer break is twelve weeks in duration, although four weeks are required for one of many possible summer assignments. Normally, the assignment is to a parish or a summer camp. The work varies, depending on the needs of the parish or apostolate. The work can be anything from simple manual labor to assisting with sick calls, training altar servers, teaching catechism classes or working in the parish office.
Do seminarians spend time at FSSP apostolates during part of the summer?
See answer directly above.
Are seminarians permitted to go home at other times of the year?
Yes. The Christmas break is generally three weeks and the Easter break is one to two weeks, depending on the particular schedule of an academic year. These breaks begin the day after the Holiday.
Do lay persons study at the Seminary?
The seminary program is solely for men in priestly formation.
What if I am under contract with the National Guard and have time that needs to be served?
The two weeks, required by the Guard during the summer, may not interfere – since it occurs during the time when a 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. Such a conflict may prevent us from accepting men under contract to the National Guard.
May I become a military chaplain?
It 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.
May I request the apostolate to which 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.
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 “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. However, 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 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.
Can you give me advice with respect to chastity and discerning a priestly vocation?
We recommend an article written by Fr. Thomas Berg (not a priest of the FSSP) on this subject. The article may be accessed here: http://fatherberg.com/discerning-a-call-to-priesthood-here- are-some-questions-about-sexuality-and-affective-maturity-you-should-be-asking-yourself/.
Can you recommend good spiritual books that can assist my preparation and discernment?
- The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis
- Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales
- True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis de Montfort
- The Curé of Ars by Francis Trochu
- Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard
- Conversation with Christ by Peter Thomas Rohrbach
- Way of Salvation and Perfection by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
- St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations by Fr. John Clark, 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 J. Sheen
- Daily short readings of the New Testament