Seminary or College?

September 1, 2015

Looking back on the time I have spent at the University of St. Thomas and St. John Vianney College Seminary, it’s been a great four years! Aside from the top-notch education at seminary, I’ve been around the world. I’ve traveled from Rio to Rome, with men who have become my brothers in crowds of millions of pilgrims from all around the globe. Having entered seminary right out of high school, you might say I never really experienced normal college and I’d agree: what I experienced was anything but normal when compared to the college experiences of many of my high school classmates. 

College is a place where learning and growing happen, sometimes in pleasant ways and sometimes less pleasant. Seminary is a place where that learning and growth are deliberately cultivated in all areas of life, centering on the spiritual, centering on Christ. It is a place of discernment, the place where you have all the tools necessary to seek out God’s will for your life. I didn’t enter seminary because I already had it figured out; I still had how no idea what God was thinking. However, I responded to His promptings out of a sense of duty. I knew that this was something I had to do. Since then, the classes, the good times, the crazy times, the times when God draws you close, and the times when you’re bored to tears have all been part of my journey in discernment. My journey has moved from being a sense of duty to do God’s bidding to a freedom of an obedience rooted in love. That’s the idea of discernment: allowing your will to be aligned with God’s. Seminary is where this happens, while surrounded by the priests, your brothers, and the Sacraments.

To the young men considering seminary and to their families, take time to pray, allow God the time to speak, and don’t forget to listen. Also, seek out the counsel of the wise because sometimes we struggle to think clearly when it comes to ourselves. To their families, pray to be open and accepting if one of your family does feel drawn to some vocation because it can often be just as easy to uproot a young vocation as it is to sow the seed of one. 

~ James Downeya Des Moines seminarian, graduated from University of St. Thomas St. John Vianney Seminary in May 2015 and in fall 2015 is attending the North American College in Rome.

 ** If you are interested in visiting a seminary, please contact our vocations director Father Joe Pins, 515-237-5050 for more information about upcoming trips. **