Our Seminarians Stand Out

It takes a certain courage for a young man to give his college years to discern and prepare for the priesthood. It requires a willingness to go against the crowd—to stand out—and that’s what our seminarians do. In their distinctive vesture, their studies, their prayer, and their joy, our seminarians stand out. They testify with their lives that they have found the “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:46). They show that Christ and His priesthood are worth every challenge and sacrifice.

The Four Pillars:
Forming the Entire Man

St. Joseph College Seminary offers formation designed to improve vocational awareness and prepare seminarians for entrance into the Theologate. Our young men pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Belmont Abbey College, while seminary formators provide the human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral resources they will need as priests.

Preparing Good and Holy Priests Starts with a Solid Formation

In order to prepare young men to possibly serve as Catholic priests in the future, college seminary provides an environment in which seminarians can grow in the Four Pillars of Formation as set forth in the Program of Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Four Pillars are Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Formation.
Human Formation

Human Formation is the foundation of priestly formation, ensuring that each seminarian becomes a mature and balanced man who can relate well to others, bear the weight of pastoral responsibilities, and live a celibate life in a fruitful manner. The affective maturity required for the priest is realized in the development of the human virtues.

Spiritual Formation
Spiritual Formation guides the seminarian in learning to live in intimate communion with God, to seek Christ in faithful meditation on scripture, to participate in the sacred mysteries of the Church, and to love and revere the Blessed Virgin Mary. The sanctity required for the priest is realized in the flourishing of the theological virtues.

Intellectual Formation
Intellectual Formation is an integral part of discipleship. A seminarian devotes himself to the study of philosophy in preparation for the study of theology, which will be pursued in greater depth in Theologate or major seminary. The intellectual rigor required for the priest is realized at this stage in the development of natural wisdom.
Pastoral Formation
Pastoral Formation helps the seminarian evolve into a shepherd imbued with the charity of Christ. Virtues gained through discipline, education, and sacrifice conform the will and build the pastoral competence to love and serve those in need. The generous heart required of a priest is exercised as a man sacrifices his will in love for others.


In accordance with the Program of Priestly Formation, SJCS seminarians earn a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, the necessary foundation for graduate studies in theology. As such, our seminarians are well-grounded in the humanities, learn to seek the truth, and possess the critical thinking skills needed to analyze problems in an everyday and academic context.


The Program of Priestly Formation states Latin is essential in the intellectual formation of college seminarians. “Before entering the theologate, all seminarians should demonstrate that they have acquired that 'knowledge of Latin which will enable them to understand and make use of so many scientific sources and of the documents of the Church [182].'”


While attending classes at Belmont Abbey, the men live together in the seminary and follow a “rule of life” that includes daily Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual direction, and frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The seeds of their vocations further mature through devotion to the Blessed Mother.

"It is right for seminarians to remember that if the Church demands much of them it is because they are to care for those whom Christ ransomed at such a high price. Many qualities are required of future priests: human maturity, spiritual qualities, apostolic zeal, intellectual rigor. To achieve these virtues, candidates to the priesthood must not only be able to witness to them to their formation teachers but even more, they must be the first to benefit from these same qualities lived and shared by those who are in charge of helping them to attain maturity."
Pope Benedict XVI

Our Affiliation with Belmont Abbey College

Seminarians work toward an undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Belmont Abbey College, with a curriculum designed specifically to meet the needs of St. Joseph College seminarians. Each seminarian minors in Latin. A rigorous philosophical, classical, and philological education gives our seminarians access to the treasures of the Church’s deposit of faith and the wisdom to be good custodians of her teachings.