Share this story

Young Men Learn About Seminary Life at Retreat

By Fr. Chuck Dornquast

Young Men Learn About Seminary Life at Retreat

Six young men from the Diocese of St. Petersburg embarked on a journey, over the Palm Sunday weekend, to see how the seeds of vocation could grow in them. The men joined 60 others from dioceses across the southeastern United States at St. Joseph Abbey Seminary College in Covington, LA for the annual spring "Come and See" retreat.

Five of the men made the 11-hour trip, traveling by van with Father Chuck Dornquast, the Director of Vocations for the Diocese, and one flew in from the college he is currently attending to visit the seminary. All were answering the call of discernment, a diligent consideration of what God is calling one to do.

“A visit to the seminary can really take away some of the fears that men have about studying for the priesthood,” said Fr. Chuck.

The process of discerning a vocation varies in its elements. But all of them, begin with an encounter with Jesus Christ and a desire to serve Him. A visit to the seminary is helpful to see if it fits.

“If Jesus himself had to go to a separate place to hear the Father’s voice, then certainly I must do the same if I want to discern well if I’m called to the priesthood,” said one of the men.

During the weekend the men joined current seminarians in some of the everyday aspects of seminary life. They toured the grounds, hiked the woods, prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, played sports, attended daily Mass and sat in on classes and conferences.

The young men also got a chance to celebrate the Palm Sunday liturgy with the monks of St. Joseph and experience a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil.

“Sometimes guys fear they aren’t going to enjoy seminary, that they aren’t holy enough for seminary or that they’ll be trapped there,” said Fr. Chuck. “A Come and See experience really provides the opportunity to recognize that perhaps being in seminary is a far better fit than they would have anticipated.”

Fr. Chuck hopes to bring many more men to the next Come and See retreat at St. Joseph Seminary scheduled for November 4-6, 2022.

He asks the faithful to pray for an abundance of hard-working men to join the Master in His labors.

“Praying for vocations is something that Jesus Himself asked us to do. 'Pray to the master of the harvest for laborers for the harvest,” he said.

If you or anyone you know has an interest in visiting the seminary or any other discernment experiences, please go to for more information.

Prayer for Vocations

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, bless all our parishes with numerous priests, deacons, men and women in religious life, consecrated laity and missionaries, according to the needs of the entire world, which you love and wish to save.

Assist our pastors and all who live a consecrated life. Guide the steps of those who have responded generously to your call and are preparing to receive Holy Orders or to profess vows.

Look with love on young people and call them to follow you.  Help them to understand that in you alone can they attain complete fulfillment.

To this end we call on the powerful intercession of Mary, mother and model of all vocations.  We beseech you to sustain our faith that the Father will grant what you have commanded us to ask.


– Pope John Paul II

Photo Caption: Group of Young men from dioceses across the southeastern United States participate in the "Come and See" Retreat at St. Joseph Abbey Seminary College in Covington, LA.