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Becoming a Priest

Taking the First Step

Learning to Discern

Discernment is a journey that begins with a still small whisper of God’s voice calling you to become a priest, religious, or married person. When you feel Him tug at your heart you must respond, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Office of Vocations in the Diocese of Brooklyn is here to help you hear and answer God’s call. Discernment is about journeying with the Lord and seeking His will.


It’s about surrendering ourselves to God’s love in our lives. Can we truly allow God to love us as we are? If so, then we have the disposition of heart to truly want to seek God’s will in our lives.

Discernment Groups


We offer six different programs for boys and young men to experience the holy spirit working in their lives. From Fraternitas, the group for middle school students, to Jeremiah Project, a program for high school boys, the various programs take different approaches to journeying together toward our callings, but all of them center around a deep love for Christ.




A discernment retreat is a prayerful way to learn more about the priesthood, for a weekend or even a week. Such a retreat is a good way to test your vocation. You can get to know some priests and seminarians, and find whether God may be calling you to this way of life. There are several discernment retreats each year. The two main retreats that the Diocese of Brooklyn offers are the Bishop’s Vocations Retreat and the Holy Week Retreat.



Pope St. John Paul II

House of Discernment

We know that there are men in college or working full time who at the same time feel they may be called to serve the church. They may desire guidance before they feel ready to apply for the seminary. House of Discernment is a supportive and prayerful faith community for young men who wish to seriously discern whether God may be calling them to the priesthood.



Seminary Formation

The Formation Program for the Catholic Priesthood in the Diocese of Brooklyn consists of several possibilities:


Formation on the High School Level
Formation on the College and Pre-Theology Level
Formation on the Theologate Level
Formation at the Pope John Paul II House of Discernment


Potential candidates for the Catholic priesthood begin the program which most applies to their age and level of education. Not all priests attend every single level, but each level does help to prepare one considering the call to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Cathedral Seminary

As the college seminary of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Cathedral Seminary House of Formation provides an environment for those men who have completed high school and are considering a possible vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood. Seminarians attend either Saint John’s University or other local colleges, and take accredited courses at the seminary residence.


Cathedral Seminary House of Formation is a full seminary program, following the dictates of the Program of Priestly Formation as mandated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.



Sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn, and serving other dioceses, Cathedral Seminary House of Formation also offers a Pre-Theology Program open to men who, having finished college, still need to complete the 30 credits in Philosophy and 12 credits in Theology required before applying to the Theologate (Major Seminary).



Any young Catholic man who is applying to college, who is currently in college, or who has graduated from college may apply. Candidates should be open to the idea that the Lord Jesus might possibly be calling him to the priesthood and seriously willing to consider this possibility.



What is Theologate?

Major Seminary

The Major Seminary provides an environment for those men who have completed the College or Pre-Theology Formation Program at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation 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: Human, Intellectual, Pastoral, and Spiritual.


Seminarians are assigned by the Bishop of Brooklyn to complete 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 rigorous academic course of study and a healthy schedule of prayer, as these final years of formation before ordination truly form a man into a priest for the Church.


The following seminaries are sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn:


Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, PA

Redemtoris Mater Seminary, Newark, NJ

Holy Apostles Seminary, Cromwell, CT

Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Orchard Lake, Michigan



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.

High School Seminary

Cathedral Preparatory

As the high school seminary of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Cathedral Preparatory Seminary provides an environment for discernment to Catholic young men with a desire to mature in their knowledge of Christ—the highest fulfillment of humanity—and who are therefore willing to seriously consider the priesthood as an attractive possibility.

Cathedral Preparatory Seminary provides them with a college preparatory program, rooted in Catholic tradition, and responsive to the dynamic changes in society, in accord with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Through an integrated program of prayer, study, apostolic work and activities, the high school seminarians of the Cathedral community mature in spirit, mind and body. They are prepared for the challenges of further study, to become prayerful and active adult members of their parishes, responsible citizens of their nation, and loving, concerned, generous members of society, no matter what choice they make regarding their vocations.



Any young Catholic man preparing to enter high school, or a man looking to transfer, who is open to the idea that the Lord Jesus might possibly be calling him to the priesthood and is willing to seriously consider this possibility is an ideal candidate for Cathedral Preparatory Seminary.



You have been Called


Ordination is a ceremony in which a man receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders and is advanced as deacon, priest, or bishop. Ordination ceremonies are impressive because of the various rituals which are rich in meaning and history. Prostration, laying on of hands, anointing of hands, giving of the chalice and paten, and the sign of peace all make for a truly impressive and lasting impression upon the participant. Priests and Deacons are ordained to be co-workers with the Bishop.


Priests typically begin and end their days with prayer. Prayer is the key to fulfilling the mission of Christ and his Church, and every priest makes a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, an ancient prayer of the Church prayed five times throughout the day. A priest must also be rooted in his own private prayer, which is the fuel for one’s personal relationship with God.


Obedience is a call that each of us has in our lives. Obedience is not a suppression of freedom but a respect for our dignity. It is neither giving up responsibility nor surrendering control. As St. John Vianney said, “Obedience makes the will supple. It gives the power to conquer self, to overcome laziness, and to resist temptations. It inspires the courage with which to fulfill the most difficult tasks.”


The priest witnesses the love of Jesus in a unique way in his role as servant. With the love of Jesus as he serves others, he is to be a constant reminder through celibate living that here in this life we do not have “a lasting kingdom.” In celibacy, he reminds us of Jesus’ call to seek the kingdom of the Father.

A Vocation within a Vocation

Brooklyn Priesthood

Brooklynite David Neal Miller called our borough the “cradle of tough guys and Nobel laureates, fourth largest city in the United States, proof of the power of marginality, and homeland of America’s most creative diasporic culture.” It is a mixing bowl of languages and cultures where people who would not normally have chosen to live together have learned to get along. The Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes the borough of Brooklyn and Queens, is much of this and more. “The streets” remain as the symbol, at least, of the life and witness of an all-urban local church.

If priesthood is a vocation, then priesthood in the Diocese of Brooklyn is a vocation within a vocation. The smallest diocese in the nation territorially, the largest in population, and all urban all the time, our local church is one of the most diverse and challenging in the world. Demands made on Brooklyn priests include fluency in the language of the Church and the language of the people; and an easy comfort in a multicultural milieu. An intellectual sophistication wrapped up in a street-wise, plain spoken directness, combined with gentleness and tact, and the focus, discipline, and toughness of firefighters at a ten alarm fire are also prerequisites with which we are gifted, or soon learn to acquire.

Priestly ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn is carried out in the midst of the tumult and noise of a thousand daily distractions. Yet as any veteran Brooklyn priest will tell you, the distractions are the work, and the Lord is in the distractions. There most definitely exists a Brooklyn charisma and it is recognized by brother priests and others around the country. If you travel to local churches in any region in the nation and let it be known that you are a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, you will be greeted with curiosity, good humor, and even a bit of trepidation. You will notice a certain respect and you will be peppered with lots of questions. And you will have answers.

Not too long ago, the Diocese of Brooklyn was renowned for its national cutting edge leadership in catechesis, social justice, education, and journalism. Counted in the ranks of the Brooklyn clergy have been outstanding scholars in scripture and canon law, writers and orators, leaders who caused the rest of the country to sit up and pay attention in the name of the Lord.

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