Formation Program

How does one become a priest? What sort of training does it take? These questions are common for those who consider the call to serve as a priest. Many people have no real idea what goes into training a man to become a priest, and fewer still have ever been to a seminary—the school where candidates for priesthood go to learn the things necessary to be good priests. Those who are accepted as seminarians for the Archdiocese of Baltimore go through a process known as “formation.” This entails a combination of academic study, practical experiences through internships and prayer, all of which serve to help shape the man into a minister after the Heart of Jesus, the High Priest. Para ver esta página en español,haga clic aquí.


For those entering after high school, a candidate must complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably in Philosophy, in preparation for graduate level Theology. Candidates who elect to attend the college of their choice while remaining in contact with the Office of Vocations and a spiritual director are considered “College Candidates.” Those who attend a college seminary are considered “College Seminarians.” As a College Seminarian, a man is typically sent to:

Our Lady of Providence College Seminary
485 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908

In accordance with the United States Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation, 2007, college seminarians are required to complete 30 credit hours in philosophy and 12 credit hours in religious studies. Philosophical courses should include metaphysics, anthropology, epistemology, ethics, logic, as well as ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy. Courses in religious studies should include introductions to biblical revelation, doctrine, church history, spirituality, and Christian ethics. An understanding of world religions and appreciation of the role of religion in literature and the arts may also be beneficial.


After completion of a bachelor’s degree, a man enters graduate-level work in Theology. Those who have completed college by without a degree in Philosophy or the required formation are required to complete a two-year course of Pre-theology – a the major seminary. As seminarians, men are sent to:

St. Mary’s Seminary and University
5400 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21210

Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary
16300 Old Emmitsburg Road
Emmitsburg, MD 21727

Theological College
401 Michigan Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20017

Pontifical North American College
00120 Vatican City State

In Major Seminary, the candidate will study theology, Scripture, sacraments, Canon Law, pastoral counseling, and the like, and obtain a Masters degree in Theology. The typical academic program is four years.


During the candidate’s formation process of school and pastoral assignments, he will receive a variety of opportunities to develop pastoral skills for service to God’s people in the Archdiocese. The are offered through both the seminary and the Vocations Office. Pastoral placements from the seminary will place the man in schools, parishes, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and hospice care in order to develop the candidate’s ability to relate to people in various pastoral situations.

During the summers, the Archdiocese places our candidates in parishes for 6– or 8-week assignments, working with a pastor and parishioners. These assignments help a candidate to understand the particular circumstances of ministry here in Baltimore and the Archdiocese.

Typically, after the second year of Major Seminary, a man is placed in a parish for a Pastoral Year. This is a year-long internship wherein a man is out of school and full-time in a parish. A candidate will see first-hand what parish ministry is like in all its variety throughout an entire year.

It is also useful for our candidates to learn and become familiar with Spanish and Hispanic culture for ministry to this growing Catholic population in the Archdiocese and the nation.