The Major Seminary

Becoming a Priest / Theologate Formation


St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie


What is Theologate or the Major Seminary?

The Major Seminary provides an environment for those men who have completed the College or Pre-Theology Formation Program at Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception and desire to pursue their vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood by completing their theological training. The formation of a man for the Sacred Priesthood is not primarily a matter of teaching certain skills or imparting specific knowledge.  It is first and foremost conforming one’s heart to the priestly heart of Jesus.  As such it is the formation of the whole person that requires on the part of the seminarian candidate openness and receptivity to the work of God as it is mediated through the various aspects of the priestly formation program.  The Major Seminary seeks to address the formation of the whole person by focusing on four aspects which the Church has identified as necessary elements (or “pillars”) of seminary formation:
(1) Human Formation
(2) Intellectual Formation
(3) Pastoral Formation 
(4) Spiritual Formation


Seminarians are assigned by the Bishop of Brooklyn to complete one’s theological training at one of the Seminaries sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn.  For each seminarian, his daily schedule varies depending on the seminary he has been assigned to and his level of formation. One can expect a vigorous academic course of study and a healthy schedule of prayer as these final years of formation before ordination truly form a man into another priest for the Church


Seminaries Sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn:

  1. Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy
  2. Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY
  3. St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, PA
  4. Redemtoris Mater Seminary, Newark, NJ
  5. Holy Apostles Seminary, Cromwell, CT
  6. Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Orchard Lake, Michigan


Human Formation

Human formation recognizes the need for a man to develop his own personality.  This is done both by deepening his awareness of the God given gifts he has received and by seeking to correct any personal attitudes or behaviors that might be an obstacle to the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus of Christ.  Such formation takes place primarily through the common life of the seminary in which a man is challenged to grow in such virtues as self-sacrifice and self-giving, patience and perseverance, humility and sensitivity, and above all charity in thought, word, and deed.  The continued growth in virtue is the foundation upon which rests all other aspects of priestly formation and in a sense the priesthood itself.


Intellectual Formation

Intellectual formation recognizes the need for priests to be well-versed and knowledgeable in the theological tradition of the Church, as well as the need to articulate the faith effectively in our contemporary cultural context.  This is accomplished through the pursuit of a Graduate Level degree, which entails a four-year academic program of theological study and reflection.  The five major disciplines of Dogmatic, Biblical, Historical, Liturgy and Sacraments and Moral Theology are supplemented by courses in Pastoral Theology, Canon Law, Homiletics, and Modern Languages. The goal is to offer the seminarian the necessary knowledge of the Church’s rich theological tradition in order to respond faithfully and reasonably to the challenges facing the Church and the faithful today.


Pastoral Formation

Pastoral formation recognizes the need for the development of the practical skills necessary for priestly ministry and service.  This is achieved through many different ways such as a pastoral internship program, allowing the seminarian to live and minister either for a summer or for a whole year in a parish setting under the supervision of a parish priest.  In addition to the pastoral internship program, pastoral workshops, conferences, and experiences are offered throughout all the years of seminary formation.


Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation recognizes the need for a priest to have a strong and deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer.  Spiritual conferences, retreats, days of recollection, and a daily communal prayer along with Daily Mass and periods of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament offer the seminarian opportunities for prayerful worship, meditation, and reflection in which he can grow closer to the heart of Jesus.  Perhaps the most intense and personal aspect of the spiritual formation program is that of spiritual direction.  Through sharing and reflecting on his experiences of priestly formation and his relationship to God in prayer with a priest spiritual director, the candidate for priesthood is challenged to integrate all the aspects of his own formation.  In this way, by answering the call he has received, he may more and more conform his own heart to that of Christ, the Good Shepherd.  Having engaged all aspects of the formation program honestly, generously, and faithfully the seminarian will then be ready to receive the great gift of the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus Christ for the service of God’s people.


Who should come to the Major Seminary

Any Catholic man who feels that the Lord Jesus is calling him to the Catholic priesthood and is willing to seriously consider this possibility is an ideal candidate.  One must have completed all the necessary requirements. 


Contact us:

Vocation Office of the Diocese of Brooklyn

341 Highland Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11207




"I needed to put my fears aside"

Fr. Peter Rayder

The New York Mets have been building a new home, a new field of dreams in Flushing, Queens, which will open in April of 2009.  There are many ways to get to the new stadium, Citifield, all depending upon one’s starting point.  There is no wrong way to get there, maybe faster ways, but no wrong way.  Some may take some detours and visit all of the boroughs’ that make up New York City before one gets to the final destination: Citifield, yet he or she will finally reach Citifield!


The route that I took to the priesthood may not have been the most direct route in some people’s minds but it definitely was the proper route for me! I know it was the right route because I was absolutely immature at the age of ‘twenty –something’ to make lifetime commitment to God as a priest in His Church.

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