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Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Séamus Cunningham

Vocations: Steps to the Priesthood

Journey of Discernment

The Director of Vocations will arrange an initial meeting with you, to begin the journey of seeing whether you are truly called to the Priesthood.

Other pastoral/life experience may be suggested as required (eg: completion of education, further parish involvement, practice of prayer.)

Informal Enquiry:

Possible candidates begin a series of discussions in regular meetings with the Director of Vocations over a substantial period of time (6-18 months as required) in what we call a “journey of discernment”. This is to enable the enquirer and Vocations Director to discover whether or not there are sufficiently positive signs of a vocation to the priesthood as to warrant the enquirer proceeding to formal application to the Diocese.

In this journey together we look at such areas as family background, education, adolescence, human relationships, work experience, influential/significant people in one’s life, story of thoughts of priesthood. Also important considerations are a person’s understanding of God/Church/Priesthood and motivation/sexuality/marriage/celibacy, and their ideas on community, leadership, service and commitment. Other qualities looked for are a sense of responsibility, maturity, sociability and prayer, and including a sense of humour!

Throughout this period enquirers have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from our own and other dioceses in both formal and informally arranged events. ( Weekends/ Retreats/Days of Reflection/Social Evenings)

Enquirers are encouraged to seek the guidance of a Spiritual Director who accompanies them as a friend in their faith and prayer, helping them to be attentive to the voice of God in their life.

In this time the Vocations Director will usually contact the Enquirer’s Parish Priest/Religious Superior for an informal reference.

The process continues with a more Formal Selection Process.

The Selection Process
This is the formal stage of discernment and involves:

Application, checks and reference

Selection Advisory Conference

Medical and Psychological assessments

Diocesan Selection Conference

Meeting with the Bishop

Start of Training

In our diocese accepted applicants would normally be requested to do a pre-seminary year abroad in Spain at Valladolid. To understand why, and what the year offers see www.valladolid.org

When a person is accepted by the Bishop for seminary formation and training it is really the beginning of the journey, whereby an applicant and the Church together, begin to discover in practise whether or not that person could/should be a priest.

Normally, that journey will take six years of formation and training in seminary.

The Prophets spent most of their lives (unknown to them), and Jesus Himself 30 years, in preparation for what they were called to be and do. As Our Lord said so often: “Do not be afraid….”