Discernment means “To come to know” or “to figure out.” Typically, the thought of being a priest is one that has lingered in your mind for a long time. Sometimes the pull is strong and sometimes, not so strong. But, it keeps coming back. Or you may have had a powerful experience in your life that raised the priesthood as something you ought to do. Either way you have the sense that maybe you are being called to something remarkable, to the priesthood.
When you begin to actively investigate the possibility, it involves more than just trying to uncover God’s will. There are two sides, the personal and the institutional. While you are discerning God’s call (both before and during the seminary), the Church is also discerning if you have the necessary skills to be an effective priest. Not every man who thinks he should be a priest, should be a priest. A valid candidate for the sacrament of Holy Orders needs to demonstrate more than just wanting to be a priest. You have to demonstrate the ability to gain the skills and the knowledge necessary to be a priest. You must also show a desire to do all the proper things that need to be done in order to be a good priest. In other words, you must desire to be a man of service to the Church out of your love for the Lord and zeal for souls (click here for a list of Seminarian Traits). These efforts and desires will demonstrate your readiness for the vocation.