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.”