On Sept. 15, at Sacred Heart Church in Baton Rouge, seminarians Matthew Dunn and Danny Roussel were admitted to candidacy for the priesthood for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Both Dunn and Roussel are third year theology students at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. According to Father Matt Lorrain, director of seminarians for the Baton Rouge diocese, the simple ceremony is an important step in the discernment process for those considering a vocation. 

“When you’re descerning a vocation, there’s still a lot of mystery involved so you’re looking for confirmation from God and the Holy Spirit,” said Father Lorrain. ” ‘Am I doing the right thing? Am I hearing God’s voice correctly?’ and so on.” 

The Rite of Candidacy, according to Father Lorrain, changed after Vatican II in 1972, when it was the Rite of Tonsure, or the circular shaving of the crown of the head. Now, the ceremony involves two questions from the bishop. 

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Notre Dame seminarians Matthew Dunn, left, and Danny Roussel prepare for Mass on Sept. 15 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Baton Rouge. Both men received Admission to Candidacy for the priesthood by Bishop Michael G. Duca. Photo by John Yike 


“In response to the Lord’s call, are you resolved to complete your preparation so that in due time you’ll be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the church? I am,” read Father Lorrain from a text on rites of the church. “Are you resolved to prepare yourself in mind and spirit to give a faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body the church. I am.” 

Father Lorrain said that after each year of seminarian study, students progress through other steps including Ministry of Lector and Ministry of Acolyte. Before their fourth year of study, a seminarian is ordained a deacon, then a priest after completion of the fourth year. Father Lorrain said it’s a good process for discernment for both the seminarians and the church. 

“So it is not enough for a man to be called to be a deacon or a priest. The church also has to call him to that special vocation,” explained Father Lorrain. “(The church has) an annual evaluation to get to know the men very well to be able to judge their character, their prayer life, their maturity. So it’s a very good process. There are still no guarantees, as we know with all the scandals, but the process of screening and of formation is much more particular now than it was in previous years.”