How Is A Vocation Discerned?

When a man is studying in a seminary for the Priesthood, how is it determined that a vocation is present or not?

there is no clear cut answer to your question, there are though things that factor into the discernment, ones grades for instance. Men young and old leave the seminary all the time, you will probably get a lot of subjective responses. But the discerning doesn’t stop once in the seminary, the seminarian still talks to a either a spiritual or vocations director maybe both; then you have some seminarians who decide to take a semester off or a year off and discern more about the path that he is on…

Prayer. Listening to God.

If you yourself are looking to discern, the best resources I can offer are the Vocations Director Locator (as long as your within the U.S.A.), as well as the book To Save a Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett Brenan, which can be purchased from Amazon here.

dreams , visions and spiritual anointings are common-- when the Holy Spirit draws a person into ministry–

and there are plenty of people out there who – speak of – God the Holy Spirit – works-
and many books also

Also, something I falied to mention in the OP, I read somewhere once in c Catholic newspaper, section about vocations, it said that some feel that they want to become priests/religious but don’t have the call, and others don’t feel like becoming a priest/religious but have the vocation.

I guess a better question would be, in this case, how do you personally know if you’re being called to the Holy Priesthood?

Btw, I am discerning the call at present, but after what I’ve read in that newspaper, I am beginning to question whether I have the correct qualities to feel that I am called. I know this sounds stupid, but what I read was pretty interesting and I believe it because there was a family friend who is probably one of the most devout Catholics I know, went to a convent and the nuns rejected her and told her that she didn’t have a vocation. When I first heard that, I thought to myself; “If she doesn’t have a vocation to become a nun, then who does?”

Contact your vocations director. It’s his job to help you discern. If he doesn’t think you’re cut out for it, he’ll say so.

Doubts are a healthy part of discernment. It’s not easy to provide a simple answer to your question I guess because there’s no one simple test and it varies from person to person. Perhaps the best way I can answer it is this: I’m currently in my second year of seminary; I fell that this is where I’m supposed to be simply because it feel right. That’s not to say it’s all sunshine and smiles all the time but I feel very content here. I’m open to the possibility that I may not be called to be a priest but it’s not something I find myself dwelling on. Of course others may struggle and some come to the conclusion that the seminary is not where they’re supposed to be. I guess it comes down to how you feel - particularly in your prayer, what you think God is saying to you and the feedback you get from others.

Finally, I’d also add that some of the most wonderfully devout and holy people I know have never experienced a call to priesthood. Those God calls are not the ones we might naturally think of, but rather are the imperfect because that’s who other people can best relate to and who will be most aware of their need for God’s help.

  • Most of all pray for guidance into that vocation that God might be inviting you to follow.

  • When I read the Opening Post, it had not sunk in that you might be considering a seminary and the diocesan priesthood not priesthood or religious brother in a religious order. In this post of mine, simply (more or less, use common sense) replace religious order or community etc. with seminary. A vocations director or a spiritual director can explain to you in detail all about the diocesan priesthood and the seminary.:o

  • Acquire a spiritual director if you do not already have one - or you could make an appointment with the Vocations Director in your diocese by phoning diocesan offices (not unusual for the thought of a religious vocation to come into one’s mind and one to think it ridiculous - a spiritual director or a vocations director will be able to indicate whether it is likely you have a religious vocation or not. The answer you are given by either a spiritual director who does not know you very well, or a vocations director on one appointment, is not necessarily infallible. Both are human and not infallible (unable to make a mistake). Best move is to seek out a spiritual director and one whom you plan to speak with over a period of time, not just one appointment. Such a director can explain to you in detail all about a religious vocation and the various stages of religious life)

  • If you are advised that you could have a religious vocation, then the next move would be to research various religious orders if you would like to go into things further. Or your spiritual director may suggest an Order that he or she feels would suit you and for which they feel you have the necessary personality and qualities. If one appeals, you can make enquiries without committing yourself.

  • If one Order or community really appeals and you would like to investigate further, nowadays you can ask for aspirancy after a period of contact with that Order. This means you can live in the community without any sort of commitment whatsoever. The community will consider whether you would be suitable for them and you consider if they are suitable to you. Many considering religious vocations will do a period of aspirancy with a few Orders.

If you find a religious order and community that you would like to enter and they accept your application formally, then there is usually 6 - 12 months postulancy, 2 years noviciate and then temporary vows for 3 years. This period of around 6 years are all stages of discernment. You are not fully committing yourself until Final Vows or Perpetual Profession.
In very broad terms, signs of a vocation are an attraction to the life and the ability (including necessary health) and qualities, right motivation, to live the life. The third sign is actual acceptance to enter formally a community or religious order.
But anyone advising you whether you could have a religious vocation or not will be considering only the first two broad signs.

Avoid making an firm decision against the priesthood or any other vocation in The Church without seeking out a spiritual director and one whom you plan to see over a period of time. Sometimes a person cannot find one - in this case speak with your parish priest and then the Vocations Director in your diocese. From there, you will be able to make a decision about your next move.
I can assure you that Satan will do everything and anything if one has a vocation to religious life or the priesthood to discourage and even dismay the person about a potential vocation - anything to prevent another holy priest or religious - they are always a big worry for Satan and a mighty blow to its’ evil causes.