A seminarian is a man who is discerning the Lord’s call to the Roman Catholic priesthood. By virtue of his baptism, he is a member of the priesthood of all believers.
A seminarian is a man who is discerning the Lord’s call to the Roman Catholic priesthood. By virtue of his baptism, he is a member of the priesthood of all believers. The seminarian hears the Lord speaking to him and calling him to a fuller participation in the priesthood by becoming a priest of Jesus Christ. While the priesthood has many elements that make it like a job, it is primarily a vocation: a calling from the Lord. The seminarian then needs to be open to hearing the Lord’s call in his life and be eager to respond to it.
The seminary is an environment that strives to form Christian men characterized by a life of holiness, human virtue, and generous service. Such a life is nurtured by a deep interior life of prayer and sound piety, filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a profound love for the universal and local Church. It is further nourished through a rigorous intellectual formation in a faithful and loving obedience to the Magisterium and the sacred truths entrusted to the Church. The seminary provides an environment that forms men to be committed disciples of Christ who are free to respond to God’s call to the priesthood, including the call to the celibate life.
A man who enters the seminary does not possess all the answers. In fact, many more questions will arise during time spent in seminary formation! Seminarians come from all walks of life, previous educational experiences, family backgrounds, and parishes. They bring different talents, insights, and experiences to their time in formation. In the Program for Priestly Formation, the bishops write that:
“All applicants should give witness to their conviction that God has brought them to the seminary to discern whether or not they are really called to the priesthood, and they should commit themselves wholeheartedly to carrying out that discernment.” (PPF 45)
Seminarians live in community. This means they pray together, work together, take their meals together, and study together. While the seminary is a place where individual men go to discern what the Lord is asking of them, ultimately as priests they will belong to a fraternity. The seeds of this brotherhood and fraternity are sown during their time in seminary formation.
France was a shattered society when Eugene de Mazenod, gathered around him a group of like-minded priests.
France was a shattered society when Eugene de Mazenod, gathered around him a group of like-minded priests. They would go the poorest people in the land to remind them of their human dignity, announce again the message of Jesus Christ and help them to a new way of life.
This enthusiastic group became the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1826. Despite being a small number, Eugene sent his missionaries to the furthest reaches of the world: To the poor in Canada and on the Texas / Mexican border; to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and South Africa. Oblates first came to the UK in 1841 and to Ireland in 1856. At Eugene de Mazenod’s canonisation in December 1995, Pope John Paul II said of him:
Over 4000 Oblate priests and brothers are to be found today in more than 60 countries of the world.
Over 4000 Oblate priests and brothers are to be found today in more than 60 countries of the world. Oblates from Ireland and the UK are missionaries in Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, United States and Canada.
Oblates exercise very diverse ministries but above all seek to dedicate themselves to the poor and abandoned. One can thus find Oblates in Britain and Ireland working in parishes, in missionary formation, preaching, social justice and pastoral ministries, or prisons. “No ministry is alien to us as long as we never lose sight of the main purpose of the Congregation: the evangelization of the most abandoned.” ~ Oblate Constitutions and Rules.
So, the Oblates strive to seek out, befriend and respect as sisters and brothers, the abandoned poor with their many faces: weak, unemployed, illiterate, victims of addictions, sick, marginalized, immigrants, minorities – not only the materially poor, but also those who are poor in spirit, those who do not know the name of Jesus Christ. Our mission invites us to a team approach, to collaboration with laity and other religious communities, to formation of lay leaders who will serve the needs of others, to become a part of the lives of those of others.
St. Eugene de Mazenod, first sent Oblates to Britain and Ireland in 1841. Local people, in their turn, soon began to leave these islands to help continue the work of the Gospels throughout the world. Today there are men from this Anglo-Irish province in places as far away as Brazil, Australia, The Philippines, Indonesia and South Africa. They are helping the church take root in local cultures. As well as these, there are 140 Oblates, priests and brothers, gathering in small faith communities across Britain and Ireland. They work at keeping hope alive in the middle of life’s difficulties, especially where there is poverty, addiction or lack of opportunity. Together we are nourished by God’s word, sustained in prayer and united in the Eucharist. At the centre of our lives stands the figure of Jesus. God became like one of us, so that we might become like God. Jesus shares our joy and our grief, our hope and our anguish. Following where he calls, we come as we are, leaning on God and on each other for the strength and the courage to respond in these present times to the needs of our world.
Most Missionary Oblates inquired about religious life or priesthood because we felt some sort of attraction to the idea of a serving God as a brother or priest.
Most Missionary Oblates inquired about religious life or priesthood because we felt some sort of attraction to the idea of a serving God as a brother or priest. We felt deeply that we were being invited to a deep relationship with God, the Church and the world…
If you’ve experienced something similar, it’s possible that God is calling you to a vocation as a brother or priest. One of the questions people ask when considering a vocation is, ‘what do you have to do become an Oblate priest or brother. What follows are the basic steps
If you are actively thinking about religious life or priesthood, or if you’re simply curious, feel free to contact our Vocation Director, Fr John McFadden, OMI. He will be happy to speak with you.
Initially it is a good idea to meet and talk with a local Oblate brother or priest. He will be able to provide you with information and advice as to how to go about making a decision (the process of discernment). He will also be able to share with you his own vocation story.
If you don’t know an Oblate living near you, then contact Fr John, who will arrange to visit you, or have an Oblate in your area get in touch with you. Fr John is there to help you with your discernment with the hope that the best decision possible will be made both for you and the Oblate community.
When the Apostles first met Jesus and were curious about His mission, Jesus told them to come and see. With this in mind we offer a number of different discernment opportunities throughout the year where you can talk with Oblates and others like yourself who are searching for God’s will in their lives Please feel free to contact Fr. John at any time if you are interested in help with beginning the process of discerning your vocation or have any questions about the process:
If, after this first step, you feel a growing interest or attraction to the Oblate life, you can apply to the Pre-Novitiate Community. This period is a time of orientation and a chance to try our Oblate way of life to see if it fits. It will give you the chance to meet, work and live with Oblates first-hand, and also an opportunity to undertake some preliminary studies while resident in our Formation House in London.
If, during this time of trying on Oblate life, you decide, through prayer and discussions with the community to further explore life as an Oblate, you apply to enter what is called the Novitiate year. This year is at the heart of the Oblate formation process, focusing on our spirituality, the life and charism of our founder St Eugene de Mazenod, our history and traditions, and the vows we profess.
Novitiate is a time set aside for prayer and personal growth in faith, under the guidance of the Director of Novices and a Spiritual Director or Mentor, whose role is to “walk with you” on your journey towards becoming an Oblate. During this year some feel called to become Oblates – they have a sense of peace and being at home – while others find religious life is not for them and decide to leave. For those who, in dialogue with those on the Novitiate Team, ask to become Oblates and are accepted, the year concludes with the first formal commitment to the Order, the making of First Vows. These temporary vows include the profession of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance for one year.
Once you have made this public commitment to live out the vows for a year, you take up your studies for priesthood or brotherhood. Our students normally take their theological and pastoral studies at a Theological Institute in London or at our International Theological Institute in Rome
Every year, in dialogue with the Oblate community, you will be invited to renew your vows for another year. After three years, you may apply to make your Final Vows, which makes you a full member of the Congregation. In addition to studies, you will be (whether for priesthood or brotherhood) given a variety of ministry experiences to develop skills and prepare you for missionary life. For those becoming priests, ordination to Diaconate comes after Final Vows, and is followed by ordination to the Priesthood.
If you seek to live your Oblate life as a Brother, the formation process may vary in terms of the studies you pursue. This can include social work, catechetics, teaching, and the whole array of professions and trades that might be needed in furthering our mission to serve the poor with their many faces.
Revd Fr. Sarath Perera OMI,
Oblate Recruitment Director,
St.Eugene de Mazenod Road,
(071) 158 4483 / (077) 808 3034