Frequently Asked Questions on Priesthood

The following offers answers to frequently asked questions about priestly formation as a seminarian for the Diocese of Little Rock. For more information, contact Father Jeff Hebert, diocesan vocations director, or call the Vocations and Seminarians Office at (501) 664-0340. Steps to Priesthood | En Español

Q. What can help me better discern a call to the priesthood?

A. The call to priesthood comes from Christ and his Church. It is always discerned through a relationship with Christ and the Church through prayer and service. Some of the things you can do are to attend daily Mass more frequently, spend an hour in front of the Eucharist at least once a week if not more, and become involved in pastoral ministry in your parish. If you are in high school this should be done through the youth ministry program in your parish. For those out of high school, speak with your pastor about becoming involved in ministry in your parish. Finally, to understand how the Lord is speaking to us, it is always helpful to seek out the guidance of a spiritual director. It is best to first talk with your pastor. He can offer support and help you in your discernment.

Q. Do I have to decide before I go to the seminary?

A. Actually, no! The seminary is the place to discern a vocation. If you feel God may be calling you to be a priest, then the seminary is the best place to discern this call further. The seminary is designed to provide the optimal environment to hear the Lord’s voice. The seminary formation program will challenge you to consider the Lord’s call at all levels of your life; intellectual, psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual. The seminary staff as well as the diocesan vocation director accompanies you in your discernment. They have been specially trained to work with young men who are considering a call to the priesthood. Not all those who enter seminary decide to become priest. This does not mean they have failed. Rather, they realized they are being called to another way of life. Their time in the seminary is of great benefit, because their education will be a valuable asset to them as well as the Church as they continue to live out their faith as baptized Christians. Seminarian House of Formation

Q. Who pays for seminarian education?

A. Seminarians avail themselves of whatever scholarships or student aid that are available to them but do not pay any of the cost of seminary education personally. Seminarians are not expected to take out any loans to cover this cost nor are they expected to reimburse this cost to the diocese should they leave the seminary prior to ordination. We do not want financial considerations to be a factor in a seminarian's discernment of God's call in his life. The Diocese of Little Rock pays the remaining cost of a seminarian's education not covered by scholarships or student aid. The Diocese meets this expense out of our seminary endowment fund, charitable bequests and other fundraising collections and activities throughout the year, such as our Holy Thursday Collection and our Taste of Faith dinners.

Q. What else does the diocese cover for the seminarian?

A. The diocese will provide health and dental insurance if a seminarian’s parents do not have him on their own policy. We also cover transportation to and from the seminary. Seminarians are also given a small monthly stipend.

Q. Can I have a car in the seminary?

A. Yes you can have a car in the seminary, however each seminarian is responsible to pay for any car payments, insurance, maintenance, oil changes and gas. The diocese does not cover any expenses for a car.

Q. How do you discern a call to the priesthood?

A. Discernment is a process of prayer, consultation, decision-making, and action. The Lord lives at the center of our beings, and his Spirit directly communicates to us his will. Discernment is the process whereby we become attuned to listening to God’s voice speaking inside of us, and over time seeking to do only God’s will. Discernment works for us only when we believe that God does speak within us, and then when I trust in what he says to him, and finally I desire to do only what God wants. Seminarian Vocation Stories

Q. What then are the steps to discernment of a vocation?

A. There are different methods to discernment, but they would all include the following elements:

Prayer — God speaks to us in the context of our prayer
Listening — We have to spend time in quiet to be able to listen to God’s voice. Sometimes God may speak to us slowly over time, while for others God may speak all at once. In any case it takes time to grow accustomed to listening to the way God speaks. We should also listen to people around us. Sometimes God speaks through others, and if others have noted in us a priestly vocation, we should pay attention to this and let it be a part of our discernment.
Information — We need to seek information about the diocesan priesthood. This can come from our pastor, youth director, parents, or the vocation director. You can also visit the seminary. The diocesan Vocation Office sponsors trips to the seminary each year.
Decision-Making — A vocation just doesn’t happen to us! We just don’t fall in love! We make decisions about what we are going to do with our life. It is important to make a decision about what our discernment is telling us, and this will mean that we have to take a risk with our God!
Action — once we have made our decision we have to take appropriate action. This is when we begin the process of applying for admission to the diocese.
Spiritual Direction — It is important to have a spiritual director to help us during this process of discernment. Perhaps the first person we should speak to is our Pastor.  He is our shepherd in our parish, and he can direct us as to where we need to go. 

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. E-mail Father Jeff Hebert, diocesan vocations director, or call (501) 664-0340 and ask for the Vocations and Seminarians Office. Of course, your pastor is also a great source for more information.