Visits to Seminaries and Convents

Trips to seminaries, novitiates, and formation houses can provide great opportunities for young people to observe firsthand the vocations experience. They are also relatively easy to organize.

Serra Participation

  • Inviting priests, deacons, or youth ministers to start a discernment group and sending a free startup packet to potential leaders
  • Promoting the program and inviting discerners to join the group.
  • Underwriting meals or travel as needed to accommodate leaders and discerners.
  • Providing a place for the group to meet.
  • Organizing speakers
06-organizing-visits

Summary

It is quite possible that a visit to a seminary can represent the first, and only, opportunity a group of school students would ever have to meet an seminarian. As such, these visits can be foundational to a young person’s vocations considerations.
Seminaries, novitiates (institutions dedicated to religious-order formation; for example, the Jesuit novitiate in St. Paul, MN), and other formation houses often welcome tours from groups dedicated to fostering vocations in students.

Organizing and leading such a ‘vocations field trip’ can be distilled into three basic steps. First, determine what institution (a seminary, a novitiate for a religious order, etc.) will be the focus of the visit. Second, look around the Internet via a search engine to determine who the best contact person would be for the institution. Third, reach out to that contact person and set up the date and time of the visit—and also get a ‘lay of the land’ as regards what the students would actually see and do during their stay.

In the case of researching religious order institutions to visit, it’s important to keep in mind that different orders have different channels for forming their members: larger, more centralized orders, like the Jesuits, tend to have purpose-built, stand-alone novitiates—whereas smaller, more decentralized orders, like the Benedictines, often have their novices live in the same communities as their fully formed members.

Program Outline

  • Visiting a seminary may be the first opportunity that a group of students would have to meet an actual seminarian
  • Such visits can be foundational to a young person’s vocations-related thoughts
  • Institutions of formation (seminaries, novitiates, etc.) often welcome tours by vocations groups
  • Organizing and leading a tour of a seminary, etc., can be distilled into three basic steps:
  • Determine the institution your group shall visit
  • Search the Internet for the contact person at the institution your group is planning to visit
  • Reach out to the contact person to establish particulars of the visit
  • Keep in mind: religious orders may have novices ‘in-house’ or in stand-alone novitiates

All year

Lead Time 2-3 Months

f

Medium Effort

Low Cost

Program History and Development

Serra SPARK Tool 17 titled “How to Organize School Visits for Seminarians and Religious” is intended to help vocations groups at the school or parish level organize and lead visits by school students to seminaries and religious order novitiates and other houses of formation within the Church.

Organizing and leading such a ‘vocations field trip’ can be distilled into three basic steps. First, determine if you want to visit a seminary, a novitiate for a religious order, or another house of formation. Second, search the Internet to determine who the best contact person would be at the place your group will visit. Third, reach out to the contact person, determine the date and time of the visit and get the details for what the students will do during their visit. Many of these institutions will already have a ‘tour itinerary’ in place for school-age visitors to follow that can be shared. (For example, a seminary might have in its ‘itinerary’ including a tour of the worship space, a visit to a classroom where seminarians are learning, and a question-and-answer session with seminarians and their superiors.) After reviewing the itinerary, it is good to discuss ideas, so that your group’s expectations and the outcome of the visit can be congruous.

Resources

Reference Materials:

John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas (MN)
Story from The Leaven which describes the visits of high schoolers from around the Archdiocese of Kansas City visiting the homes of religious orders in northeastern Kansas:

Article showing young women from the archdiocese with the Little Sisters of the Lamb in Kansas City, Kansas, on a visit to their convent.
The Leaven – Visiting the Homes of Religious Orders

Serra SPARK Helpers©

Outreach E-mail
The following template for an outreach email to be sent to your contact at the seminary/novitiate/house of formation you wish to have your students visit [simply cut and paste the text shown in the letter below into an email and modify as appropriate]:

Dear [NAME OF CONTACT]:

My name is [NAME HERE], and I’m from [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME]. I’m writing you today to see if a group of our [SCHOOL’S / PARISH’S] students could visit your [SEMINARY/NOVITIATE/ HOUSE OF FORMATION] in the near future.

We at [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME] are very interested in fostering vocations to the priesthood, deaconate, and religious life. We feel our students would learn a lot from making a visit and taking a tour of the facilities.

Would it be possible for our students and their teachers to visit your [SEMINARY/NOVITIATE/ HOUSE OF FORMATION] on [DATE/TIME]?

Also—if this visit works for you and your group, could you please tell me if there is a set ‘tour itinerary’ that you have in place there? (That is, a list of what visitors can see and do during their time at your facility.) If so, we’d appreciate it if you could provide the details—so our students and teachers would have a better idea of what they’d be seeing while on their tour.

Could you please email or call me at [PHONE NUMBER] at your earliest convenience to further discuss this request?

Thank you so much! This ‘field trip’ will make a big difference in our efforts to spark vocations at [PARISH/SCHOOL NAME].

Cordially,

[YOUR NAME]

““Let us face the vocations challenge with that equanimity and realism which take into account the
effectiveness of prayer,
and which are never devoid of supernatural hope.”

Pope St. John Paul II