Discernment Resources


Signs of a Call

Signs of a Call to Priesthood or Religious Life

  • Love of God that manifests itself in a desire to give one’s life in service to God’s People
  • Love of the Church and its rich tradition.
  • Love of the Sacraments and a desire to celebrate the sacraments with the community.
  • Love of God’s Word and a desire to proclaim the Gospel to God’s people
  • Desire to model holiness as Christ’s representative among the People of God
  • A heart that can listen to others and reach out in healing
  • Desire to deepen prayer and relationship with God
  • Willingness to live simply
  • Ability to be happy without the intimate companionship of a wife and family
  • Ability to relate with a variety of people, to be happy alone or in a group
  • Desire to love expansively rather than needing an intimate relationship with one person
  • Joy in serving others in any outreach or parish involvement
  • Generosity
  • Ability to listen to others and accept direction when needed
  • Desire to grow in union with God through prayer and service of the needy

Steps to Take


PRAYER…pray daily. Stretch the length of your prayer time. Include significant time in silence listening to God.

SACRAMENTS…in addition to Sundays and Holy Days, attend Mass on weekdays. Go to Confession regularly.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION…meet regularly with someone who knows you well and can help you discern God’s call.

TALK WITH A PRIEST OR RELIGIOUS BROTHER OR SISTER…learn how the Holy Spirit works by listening to their “call story.”

TAKE A RETREAT…set aside some time for serious discernment, hopefully with other discerners.


If you have questions, are curious, or possibly considering a vocation to religious life or diocesan priesthood, please contact Fr. Joe O’Connor. He may be reached at 315.470.1468 or joconnor@syracusediocese.org

Each candidate is looked at individually as to their educational background, intellectual and emotional capacity, health and conviction of faith. Sense of humor, compassion and character are also very important. The Lord Jesus has always called leaders to guide his people. He will continue to call leaders and qualify those whom he calls.

Diocesan Priesthood

Formation of a Diocesan Priest

Philosophy Studies are the building blocks for the Theology Studies required of priests today. Some candidates choose to enter the seminary right out of high school. The College Seminary program will cover the Philosophy requirements. Others will attend, or have attended, another college or university. Each students transcript will be evaluated and the appropriate pre-requisite classes will be assigned during the first two-years of “pre-theology.”

Theology Studies follow college seminary, or the pre-theology program. Candidates for priesthood will take four years of Graduate Theology classes.

Pastoral Year is a special opportunity in the Diocese of Syracuse. Each seminarian takes a Pastoral Year after 2nd Theology. This “internship year” gives the student a chance to live and work in a parish for an entire year. Getting to know the flow of a year in a parish is very helpful for discernment.

Deacon Jamie Schultz and family at his ordination to the Transitional Diaconate at St. Mary’s Seminary in April, 2010

Deacon Jamie Schultz and family at his ordination to the Transitional Diaconate
at St. Mary’s Seminary in April, 2010

Transitional Diaconate usually happens after a man’s 3rd year of theology studies and he spends about a year as deacon. The seminarian is ordained to the diaconate and officially enters the “clerical state.” He makes his promises of celibacy, obedience to his bishop and his promise to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This year spent preaching, baptizing and performing marriages helps to better prepare the seminarian for the ministerial role of priesthood. All of this takes place within the context of his last year of studies in seminary.

On the way to priesthood, each man is ordained as a “transitional deacon.” On April 24, 2010, Jamie Schultz was ordained by Bishop Robert Cunningham. Jamie was ordained at St. Mary’s Seminary where he has been studying since 2005. Jamie comes from a large family and every sibling was able to join him for this special day, including his brother who is a seminarian and his sister who is a Nashville Dominican.

The program of study, after college seminary or pre-theology, is five years. Add in the pre-requisite work and the time of formation is seven to nine years. This may sound like a lot, but a lot is expected of priests today. We want to be sure that you are prepared for a long and healthy life as a priest.


The Language of Vocations (click the link for more from Vocation Advocate, Julie Hagan, St. Ann, Manlius)

vo·ca·tion ~ vōˈkāSH(ə)n/

  • a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work
  • the work that a person does or should be doing



View Discernment Prayers

Office of Vocations | 240 E. Onondaga Street Syracuse, NY 13202 | phone: 315-470-1468 | email: joconnor@syracusediocese.org
Copyright © 2013 Diocese of Syracuse Office of Vocation Promotion