Why does it take so long to become a priest? Why don’t they just make you one right now? If it was easier to become a priest, don’t you think that there would be more priests?
Such were the words of one of my friends at the Jerry Uht Ballpark in Erie, PA in the summer of 2004, at our 5-year class reunion from Cathedral Prep. It was a good question. The answer seemed clear to me. However, from a layman’s perspective, it was a legitimate question. It doesn’t seem that hard to celebrate Mass and talk in public – why does it take so long to become a priest?
It takes 6-8 years to become a priest. The reason why it takes so long is that the road from layman to priest is a transformation, not a training session. That is why it can be said that a seminarian is in “formation” as opposed to training. The document of Blessed John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis (I will give you Shepherds) sets out 4 essential areas of seminary formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. Check the document out at:
Men are to be formed on these four levels. To the extent that they can be properly formed in these areas is the extent to which they are suitable candidates for ordination. Being a priest is more consequential and more difficult than it looks. It takes a while to lay a proper foundation. And then, it takes a while to grow into the vocation itself – i.e. – to become an effective and healthy priest, actively ministering to the Church.
These thoughts are brought to mind because Deacon Jason Feigh, to be ordained at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie this Friday at 7 P.M., has been in seminary for a long time- 8 years! He completed his college studies at Gannon University, Erie, while in the St. Mark Formation Program for our Diocese. He was then sent to St. Mary Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland, for 4 years of theology school. He now awaits his first priestly assignment.
Deacon Jason is ready to lay down his life in service to the Gospel. He is ready to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He is ready to preach the Word of God. He is ready to shepherd the Church. We are glad for him! We hope that, as seminary formation has come to an end, that Deacon Jason will begin the transition into life as a Priest.
The only One who can truly transform Deacon Jason into a holy priest is the Holy Spirit. Please, in these days before Pentecost, ask the Spirit to fill him with every gift, that he might be prepared for the sake of ministry. And may God raise up more seminarians to take his place in formation towards a vocation to the Priesthood.
Get to know Deacon Jason by watching his interview with our Communications Department – filmed just last week. It can be found at:
All are invited to come to his ordination this Friday, the 10th, at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, at 7 P.M. God bless you!