Our seminarians are visiting parishes in November to share their unique calling to serve and to ask for your prayerful support.
God spoke to some of them at an early age and others were well into their adulthood, but they each heard the Lord’s call to the priesthood.
Michael Pitio said he remembers he was only 6 years old when he first heard Jesus speak to him. Now, at 22, he is studying in Denver to become a priest.
“The will of God has me in the right place today,” Pitio said.
The Archdiocese of Denver is uniquely blessed to have two seminaries that help answer God’s call to serve His Church. St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary offer two distinct paths to the priesthood with a shared goal of strengthening the future of the Catholic Church.
It can take seven to 10 years to be a Catholic priest. Right now, 110 seminarians are studying what it means to hand your life over to God’s will and serve His Church.
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary began in 1999 as a diocesan seminary rooted in the firm dedication to prayer. Since then, the seminary has been making disciples of men called to proclaim Jesus Christ with ordinations totaling 139.
Each candidate to the seminary must be sponsored by his Bishop or Religious Superior before entering St. John Vianney. While attending the seminary, each man is immersed in the Four Dimensions of Formation — spiritual, human, intellectual, and pastoral — which prepares them for the lifelong demands of the priesthood.
Amidst their studies, the seminarians perform works of mercy by visiting hospital patients, engaging in prison ministry, comforting the elderly, befriending the homeless, working in schools, or assisting in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Denver.
Redemptoris Mater was founded in 1996 to form diocesan and missionary priests willing to serve the universal Church where they are needed. Redemptoris Mater seminarians share academics with St. John Vianney seminarians, but their vocational formation is based on the Neocatechumenal Way which offers them an itinerary of formation into an adult faith in a concrete Christian community inserted in a particular local parish.
Redemptoris Mater welcomes seminarians from 12 different countries of origin to the Archdiocese of Denver. Upon ordination, the Archbishop may send the Neocatechumenal priests to local parishes or to a missionary assignment.
In the expected 45 to 50 years of priesthood, a priest will touch so many lives. We need to invest in that future, said Father Daniel Leonard, rector of St. John Vianney. That is why priest formation is such an important investment, because it is an investment in the future of our Church, Father Leonard said.
“They are ordained, not for themselves, but for their flock,” Father Leonard said. “It is the heart of a good shepherd who loves his flock.”
Seminarian Timothy Skoch went to the University of Kansas and in his sophomore year he was introduced to St. Philip Neri, who’s the patron saint of joy. That’s when he started to become interested in the priesthood and what a priest’s life looks like.
By his senior year, Skoch was listening to God’s voice in his life. The desire to follow Christ grew and he gained the courage to apply to the seminary.
They are ordained, not for themselves, but for their flock. It is the heart of a good shepherd who loves his flock.”Father Daniel Leonard
In one of his classes at the seminary, the instructor asked, “how is modern man going to encounter the Lord?”
“I truly believe that one way that will happen is through the Catholic priesthood and good men saying yes to that call that Jesus is inviting them into,” Timothy said.
Jesús Martinez Vargas remembers vividly when he was called.
“I remember exactly when the Lord spoke to me. I was about 23 or 24 years old at mass and watching the priest celebrate the Eucharist during the consecration, and I was overwhelmed with a desire to be doing what he was doing,” Vargas said.
The 28-year-old seminarian is grateful to donors who help make his dream to become a priest possible. Priest formation is costly to cover tuition, books, and laptops, but it is an investment in the future of our Church.
“I’m so grateful to the donors who allow me to follow my desire,” Vargas said. “Without them, there is no seminary to form good priests.”
You can learn more about your future priests and support them on their journey at archden.org/futurepriests.