Discernment Process

General Discernment from Diocese of Allentown

If you are interested in the Priesthood then you should speak to your Pastor, a trusted Priest, or directly with the Diocesan Vocation Director. This way you can hear what the life of a Priest is really like. A Priest can help you learn how to pray more concretely and discern more clearly if the Priesthood is for you. If the desire to serve the Lord and the Church as a Priest increases with prayer and you sense joy and happiness around the thought of the being a Priest, then it is time to think seriously about some formal process of discernment.

If you need more understanding about the life of a Priest before you could choose to apply to enter the seminary then you would be invited to attend the aspirancy formation program. If you are more convinced of God’s call to the Priesthood, then you could apply to enter the seminary formation program.


In the spring of 2010, the Diocese of Allentown will begin a new program of discernment called the Aspirancy Program. Below you will find a description of the program.

Many high school or post high school aged men need more information about the Priesthood or fear making the commitment to enter the seminary. This aspirancy period is an initiative designed to engage men at their stage of discernment. In order to help these men discover their particular vocation, Bishop Barres will be personally involved in this program.


This program includes a commitment to:

  • Personal daily prayer and various retreat opportunities
  • Attendance at classes (one night a week) similar to an RCIA format at a centrally located parish in the Diocese of Allentown
  • Individual spiritual direction for the aspirants


Personal daily prayer:

  • Attendance at daily mass, when possible
  • Scriptures (lectio divina)
  • Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament, when possible
  • Daily examen of conscience Holy Rosary



  • Days of reflection
  • Weekend retreats


Classes will provide:

  • Teaching on the Catechism – practical and animated discussions designed to excite candidates about the Faith and the Church.
  • Teaching on Priesthood – a strong historical and theological presentation including the lives of the saints.
  • Teaching on Celibacy – a clear presentation and honest discussion the connection between sacrifice, sexuality and intimacy.
  • Teaching on the Spirituality of Diocesan Priesthood – a focus on contemplation in action that a potential candidate for the Priesthood can practice immediately.
  • Teaching on Holiness and Mission – an emphasis on being with Jesus (holiness) and doing the Father's will (mission).


Spiritual Direction:

  • Meeting with a Priest every three to four weeks
  • Regular participation in the Sacrament of Penance


With this honest and in-depth look at the life and the identity of a Priest, men will gain sufficient knowledge to assist their discernment. When a man has become more convinced of God's call, then he can apply to enter the seminary with a firm foundation.


A very common misunderstanding is that if a man enters the seminary he is definitely going to be a Priest. The reality is that the seminary is the place where a man who has the desire to be a Priest goes to discern intensely whether or not this is God's plan for his life. In the seminary, the formation program disposes the seminarian to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit. The Priests in the seminary as well as in his diocese will help the man discover if he is called to the Priesthood. In the end, the Bishop of the Diocese is one who calls a man to Priesthood.

The section of this website called FAQ (frequently asked questions) can answer some of those initial questions about the Priesthood and seminary formation.