Since seminaries (houses of formation and study for those training for Priesthood) work on an academic year, September to July, then the application process generally fits a timetable to start in the following September. It is possible to make a formal application any time from October to March.

The application process is set out below – it looks very daunting, and of course it has to be rigorous for your sake and for the sake of the Diocese, as it would be a disservice to everyone to put a candidate in a position where they left work, etc., to go to seminary and it just was not right for them. The process is one where you are strongly supported, though. Firstly, a Vocations Director is unlikely to recommend you for the process if he thinks it will not be right for you, so you can begin the application with his confidence in you. Secondly, all those involved want the best for you. Thirdly, the Vocations Director is on hand, or on the end of a phone, at every stage of the process.

To apply for Priesthood includes:

  • Completing a written application form with details of your academic and work history to date.
  • Preparing a written account of approx 1500 words about your journey so far and what it is that has inspired you to apply for Diocesan priesthood
  • A psychological assessment, from which you would also receive feedback. Just as with many job interviews, the input from a psychologist assesses your character strengths, and highlights any aspects which may cause struggles in Priestly life.
  • A CRB check, as a natural part of any role that involves contact with children and vulnerable adults
  • Interviews in the context of a seminary. Brentwood Diocese usually join other Dioceses for this and the interviews take place over a weekend at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh (near Guildford in Surrey). Seminary staff and other experienced interviewers such as headteachers chat with you, and there is also an assessment of how you work as part of a group.
  • Interviews in the Diocese. These are with senior Priests of the Diocese, as well as men and women with experience perhaps in education, or in business, that mean they are able to make considered judgements about people. As with those who interview in the seminary, these are people who are very sympathetic to the church, and to candidates for the Priesthood.
  • Interview with the Bishop. Every other part of the process serves as advisory to the Bishop, who will be the one with the final decision. The Bishop has long experience of working with those considering Priesthood, and he will be seeking to see all that is best in you so as to discern if it is the right moment for you to begin training for Priesthood, and to discern which seminary will best meet your needs.

Generally the sets of interviews described above take place in April and early May, so that by the middle of May you know where you are beginning seminary in September, giving you time to make all the necessary practical preparations.

The support from the Diocese naturally continues strongly, whatever the outcome of the interviews. If the decision has been taken to defer your application, then the Vocations Director will chat that through with you, and assess the feedback from the selection process that has led to that decision. Together you will then be able to agree the next steps in your discernment. If you have been accepted for seminary the Vocations Director remains your first point of contact and – together with the Seminary Rector and other seminary staff – will help you prepare for seminary.