Advice from Fr. Mike Schmitz on Discerning the Priesthood

If you’re discerning a vocation to the priesthood or know someone who is, this one is for you! Kevin is 18 years old and feels called to be a priest. He’s hoping to enter the seminary, but isn’t sure where to begin. He called The Patrick Madrid Show to ask guest host Fr. Mike Schmitz what he should do for discernment and preparation.

The first step, according to Fr. Mike, is to speak with a vocations director in your diocese. They can help you to discern your vocation and get the ball rolling if seminary is in your future.

Second, visit a seminary. “The priests in our diocese up here in Minnesota, one of the things that we will do regularly is we’ll have ‘seminary sprints’ they call them, or visit weekends where we’re like, okay we’re going to get a bunch of guys—even if it’s only like four or five—and drive on down to the seminary and make it a visit weekend. That could be a really helpful thing if you have other people going with you. But I know that virtually every college seminary has a version of a come-and-see weekend,” explained Fr. Mike.

He offered a few pieces of advice for Kevin as he takes these next steps toward discerning his vocation. Speaking of his own discernment, Fr. Mike said, “When I visited I was probably 17, 18, and my thought was, I’m going to go there and I’m going to know … this is who I’m supposed to be.” But that’s not how it turned out. There was no light bulb that went on, telling him he was making the right decision.

Years later, he realized what this process of discernment is really meant to be. “I invite you to think about it like this: you’re just gathering data. Right now you’re thinking, ‘Ok God, is this possible that you’re inviting me or calling me to go to the seminary? I don’t know yet and I don’t know how to figure this out yet so what I need to do is get more data.’ I think of it in terms of algebra. So you know if you have to solve for X but in this whole equation there’s also a Y and a W and a Q. And I need to find out what Y is before I can find out what X is.”

Finally, Fr. Mike encouraged Kevin to become a man of prayer. “By that I don’t mean intense prayer, I just mean consistent prayer.” He recommended making a weekly holy hour—whether Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or simply sitting in front of the tabernacle—to spend time with the Lord.

“Park yourself in front of Jesus and he’s going to tell you where he’s calling you,” he said.

Listen to the answer here:

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.