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Senior Ryan Asher plans to attend sem­inary to study for priesthood. Ryan Asher | Courtesy

Senior Ryan Asher was accepted to Hillsdale and began studying math, but four years later, Asher was accepted at Sacred Heart Major Sem­inary to pursue higher studies and begin for­mation in prepa­ration for priesthood.

“You have to do an appli­cation just like you would for any other school, but it’s def­i­nitely more involved,” Asher said. “Essen­tially, they’re not only taking you on to study, but they’re poten­tially taking on someone who will stand in the person of Christ, so they’re looking for a lot more than aca­demic or per­sonal qual­i­fi­ca­tions.”

The appli­cation process involved what Asher described as a “com­pre­hensive account of your life”: a 20-page appli­cation to fill out, plus mul­tiple inter­views and another 15 – 20 pages worth of essays.

But before the formal appli­cation process begins, dis­cerning men must determine whether they’re being called to become a diocesan priest or a priest asso­ciated with a reli­gious order. While diocesan priests stay within a par­ticular area and attend to spe­cific parishes, the respon­si­bil­ities of priests within a reli­gious order can vary.

“He could be a mis­sionary, he could be assigned to a college as a uni­versity pro­fessors, he could be in a monastery serving the monks, he could be assigned to a chap­laincy working in a prison system — all kinds of things depending on what the reli­gious com­munity does,” said Father John Linden, director of sem­i­narians for the Diocese of Lansing Voca­tions. “The priesthood is the same, whether he’s a parish priest or part of a reli­gious order, but the context of where he offers his priesthood is dif­ferent.”

Asher said he feels called to become a diocesan priest

As a cradle Catholic, Asher said the pos­si­bility of priesthood has always been in the back of his mind, but he first started seri­ously dis­cernment during his sophomore year.

“I was up in Dean Pete’s office once just having a con­ver­sation, and I men­tioned dis­cernment and so he put me on the phone with Fr. John Linden right there and then,” Asher said. “That was a good first step for me to take.”

Although there have been unex­pected chal­lenges and blessings along the way, with its share of con­fusion and anxiety, Asher said the process has ulti­mately been an exciting one.

“The fact that God wants to do some­thing with our lives is exciting,” Asher said. “It’s a source of anxiety for some of us, but there’s no need because he’s there and he’s moving us towards some­thing great: loving him and assisting others to loving him. There’s no greater work than that, so I’d say that’s the exciting part of it.”

Even though he will enter the sem­inary, the process of dis­cernment is far from over. For stu­dents entering the sem­inary with a bachelor’s degree, sem­inary con­sists of two years of phi­losophy and four years of the­ology with addi­tional for­mation throughout.

“All along, it’s not just studies and aca­d­emics,” Linden said. “There’s a whole for­mation program including human for­mation, spir­itual for­mation, and pas­toral for­mation in addition to aca­d­emics.”