Holy Cross Seminary

Frequently Asked Questions About Holy Cross Seminary

1.      What is it about the spirituality of the Society of Saint Pius X that I should want to go to a Society Seminary to receive a priestly formation?

The spirituality of the Society of Saint Pius X is centered on the Mass, only what concerns the Mass, and everything that concerns the Mass. It consequently focuses on what is most important, for it is the Mass that is the center of Catholic life and worship. Furthermore, the Society's spirituality cannot be understood in abstraction from the present crisis in the Church, which it is the Catholic teaching of the Council of Trent that the modernists have so viciously attacked. The Society is necessarily militant, and this combat for the Faith, and the continual effort to live the Faith in its entirety are inseparable from the spirituality of the Society of Saint Pius X. It is consequently a profoundly supernatural spirituality, and that only real answer to the widespread abandonment of the true notion of the Catholic priesthood which is at the root of the present crisis.

2.      What makes Holy Cross Seminary in Australia a good place for a young man to attend?

All of the Society's seminaries are international, and consequently not limited to one country, but are an image of the universality of the Catholic Church. Holy Cross Seminary is no exception to this, receiving candidates from a variety of countries. However, the Seminary is modeled on the Society's mother house of Ecône, in all its details, as well as in the principles of formation. Its purpose is to pass on to the seminarians the spirit given to the Society by its holy founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Holy Cross Seminary also has the advantage of having only a small enrollment of students, of being in the country and in an out of the way place, that makes it very favorable to prayer and study.

3.      What questions should I ask myself to find out whether I should devote myself to God by coming to Holy Cross Seminary?

There is one overwhelmingly important question that overrides all others. It is: Do I truly, of my own free will, and for no other motive than the love of God, want to consecrate myself to His service, with all the sacrifices that this entails. A vocation depends essentially on this question. The rest depends upon the objective judgment of your superiors. However, as for your own judgment of yourself, examine your intentions as see if this is your pure desire.

Other, secondary, questions are best answered by your confessor or spiritual director: such as whether or not you know how to pray and to meditate, whether or not you have sufficient love of the Mass and of spiritual things, whether or not you have the ability to study, to serve others with patience, to control your passions and the like. Nobody can answer these questions for himself, and so everybody needs to speak to a trusted priest or spiritual director to ensure that he has all the necessary requirements, along with the good intention.

4.      Why should I choose a traditional formation in the Society of Saint Pius X, rather than simply try to get by in the "mainstream" or post-Vatican II church?

You will not receive a formation at all in the Novus Ordo. Instead you will receive a smattering of different elements or truths taken here and there, along side with monumental errors. All studies are treated in the form of comparative philosophy or theology, as if there were not one that is true and all the others that are false.

The seminaries of the Society of Saint Pius X give a true formation that is a consistent instruction in the Faith and in the virtues necessary to live the Catholic life. It is this formation that enables true virtues to be formed in the soul, both intellectual and moral. Tradition-minded Catholics who go through the modernist system are self-taught or autodidacts. They do not receive the spirituality and life of the priesthood, and are separated from the handing down of the Catholic life. If some elements can be found in books, the greatness of the priestly life and vocation cannot. It is handed down. The man who attempts to go through the system will eventually compromise on principles or Faith simply as a way to get by.

Furthermore, he is not openly professing the entirety of the Faith, which is our first obligation in virtue of the First Commandment. He is forced to "submarine" and not declare his true convictions. He is living a lie, and is a hypocrite simply to get ordained. God will not bless this lack of honesty and simplicity, and those who do this will eventually fall into the traps of compromise with the world. A man needs every bit of support and help that he can find, in order to become a worthy priest.

5.      How do I know that I am called to be a priest?

You do not know. All that a young man can do is to pray for a vocation, strive to do all that he can to follow a regular interior life, and follow the advice of a trusted spiritual director.

By himself, a person can only know that he has the correct disposition to follow a priestly formation. He is no way a judge of whether he has the necessary aptitudes, namely the necessary virtue, striving for perfection, intellectual ability, capacity for hard work and for study, leadership skills, psychological and spiritual equilibrium and so on. Only his superiors can judge all these questions. Consequently, in following a call to a vocation, it is crucial that a young man entrusts himself of a congregation or bishop that he trusts, and that he is willing to accept their judgment on whether or not he has a vocation. The only way to know for sure that one is called to the priesthood, is to hear the voice of the bishop calling out one's name in the ceremony of priestly ordination. A young man should not want to know so much if he actually is called to the priesthood, but if he has the generosity necessary to accomplish all that God asks of him.

6.      Should the recent publicity concerning priestly pedophilia discourage me from following a priestly vocation?

The answer to this question depends upon a man's character. If he is weak and sentimental by nature, and given over to a display of affection, then he is effeminate. The priesthood is not for him, and he must renounce every effort to attempt it. He will fail as a priest, for he does not have the necessary qualities and leadership. A man who has a physical attraction to boys and other men has an impediment to a priestly or religious vocation. He does not have a vocation, and must not attempt to enter, for if discovered this tendency will result in his immediate dismissal.

However, a spiritual man who is strong in character, and neither sentimental nor effeminate, and who has no attraction to boys or young men, should not allow the media's attack on the Catholic priesthood to discourage. The world has never understood chastity, and is not about to do so now at the beginning of the 21st century. The man who is called to live a life of perfect chastity must expect to be a contradiction to the modern world.

7.      How long is the formation to become a priest at Holy Cross Seminary?

The formation in all the Seminaries of the Society is six years, a first year of Spirituality, two years of Philosophy and three years of Theology.

8.      What liturgy is used at Holy Cross Seminary?

The liturgy is offered up only in Latin, the traditional language of the Latin rite church. The Divine Office is recited in Latin and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the traditional Latin Mass, as codified by St. Pius V in Quo Primum in 1570, after the Council of Trent.

9.      Is the New Mass of Pope Paul VI allowed at Holy Cross Seminary?

In conformity with the statutes of the Society of Saint Pius X, no priest may celebrate the new, reformed rite of Mass at Holy Cross Seminary, and the  Seminarians are forbidden to attend this new rite, under any conditions whatsoever. The reason for this is that the New Mass does not adequately express the Catholic Faith, but has been profoundly influenced by protestant theology, as pointed out in the Ottaviani Intervention. It is destructive of the Faith, it is evil and it is incompatible with a true priestly formation.

10.      What is the Divine Office?

This is what St. Benedict calls the Opus Dei, the work of God, namely the different prayers of the Church that punctuate the day, and through which honor, glory and adoration are rendered to the Most Holy Trinity. It is also called the Breviary, for this is the name of the book that contains the prayers of the Divine  office that Subdeacons, Deacons and Priests are bound to recite every day.

11.      What parts of the Divine Office are recited in community at Holy Cross Seminary?

The statutes of the Society of Saint Pius X state that the offices of Prime, Sext and Compline must be recited in community in all the houses of the Society, and so it is done at Holy Cross Seminary. Prime is recited recto tono at 6:30 a.m. (or Lauds on Sundays and holy days of Obligation), and the office of Sext at 12:15 p.m. The office of Compline is sung every evening at 8:45 p.m.

12.      Does the Seminary have a rule of silence?

Silence must be kept in the seminary at all times that are not times of recreation. Times of recreation include the hour after lunch from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. and the 40 minutes after supper from 8:00 p.m. until 8:45 p.m., as well as a ten minute break between classes. At all other times, conversations must be held at a whisper. Grand Silence exists from Compline until after Breakfast the next day. Talking is strictly forbidden during this period.

13.      How does a Seminarian keep such a strict rule of silence?

It is a question of recollection. The principal goal of the Seminary is to make Seminarians into men of God. This is only possible if they are to maintain a continual spirit of prayer. Silence is the test of this. A seminarian who does not  love the silence is not recollected as he ought to be, and does not belong in the Seminary. Seminarians who are recollected treasure the silence as the safeguard of their interior life of prayer, as well as of their intellectual life of serious thought on the major issues of our Faith.

14.      Could you summarize a Seminarian’s schedule for me?

6:00 a.m. Rise
6:30 a.m. Prime, followed by Meditation and the Angelus
7:15 a.m. Holy Mass
8:00 a.m. Breakfast, followed by chores
12:15 p.m. Sext
12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Chores and/or Recreation
4:00 p.m. Afternoon Tea
4:156:00 p.m. Study
6:00 p.m. Gregorian Chant
6:30 p.m.   Spiritual Conference
7:00 p.m. Rosary, Benediction or Way of  the Cross
7:30 p.m.  Supper
8:00 p.m.  Recreation
8:45 p.m. Compline, followed by Grand Silence
10:00 p.m. Lights out

15.      Do the Seminarians play sports?

The Seminarians are encouraged to get the exercise that they need, and consequently they play soccer, volleyball, basketball and other sports during the Wednesday and Sunday afternoon recreations. These recreations are obligatory, and all seminarians must leave the Seminary building during this time.

16. Do the Seminarians have a distinctive dress?

Once the Seminarians receive the cassock, which is on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary during their first year at the Seminary, they are bound to wear the cassock, which is a sign that they have chosen Almighty God as their part and inheritance, and that they desire to die to the world that God might use them for His greater honor and glory and for the salvation of souls.

17. Are there any age limits for entrance to Holy Cross Seminary?

The age limits are prescribed by the Society’s statutes, and are from 18 – 35 years. Rarely will a dispensation be given.

18. How does a person apply for entrance to Holy Cross Seminary?

Applications should be made through the District Superior of the country in which a young person lives. No application will be accepted without the approval of the District Superior, or without a letter of recommendation from a priest of the Society of Saint Pius X. Once approval from the District Superior has been obtained, the applicant must send the Rector a Curriculum Vitae, or story of his life, including his work and study background, his spiritual journey, and the reasons why he believes that God might be calling him to the priesthood. The District Superior of his delegate will send the letter of recommendation separately, indicating the exclusion of all impediments. However, these two documents do not suffice. The Rector will then send the formal application forms and request additional documentation to determine if a young man is a suitable candidate for studies at Holy Cross Seminary.

19. Is there a minimum educational requirement for entrance to the Seminary?

Studies at the Seminary are at University level. Consequently, the same requirements exist for entrance to the Seminary as for entrance into University. A young man must have obtained his certificate of graduation from high school, and must demonstrate sufficiently good grades to give a real hope of success in the demanding and abstract studies of Seminary life.

20. Can I come and visit the Seminary?

All young men who are contemplating the possibility of a priestly vocation are welcome to visit the Seminary, assist at some classes, and spend a shorter or longer time in the community. Experience has demonstrated that this personal experience of Seminary life is very helpful in discerning a true vocation. They must, however, obtain the authorization of the Rector beforehand.

21. Do the Seminarians take vacations?

The Seminarians receive a ten week vacation during the summer, from Christmas until the second week of March. During this time, they are bound to spend at least one month doing an active apostolate, as approved by the Rector. The rest of the time they are encouraged to spend with their families, or in the Society’s priories. They also receive a two week break at the end of the first term in June, and at the end of the second term in September.

22. Does a young man have to know Latin before entering the Seminary?

The knowledge of Latin before entering the Seminary is extremely useful. However, remedial classes in Latin are available for those Seminarians who lack fluency in this sacred language.

23. Are there ordination ceremonies at the Seminary?

Ordination ceremonies punctuate the life of every Seminary. In the Society’s Seminaries the Tonsure is received in second year, the orders of Porter and Lector in third year, the orders of Exorcist and Acolyte in fourth year, the Subdiaconate and then the Diaconate in fifth year, and the priesthood at the end of the sixth and final year of Seminary training.

24. Who teaches the Seminarians?

Experienced priests make up the teaching faculty of Holy Cross Seminary. Presently, the faculty is composed of the Rector and three other priest professors. Each of them received their priestly formation in a seminary of the Society of St. Pius X, and pass on that formation as well as their own priestly experience to the seminarians.

25. To whom may I address my questions?

Questions may be addressed directly to the Rector, either by calling the Seminary at (02) 48 29 51 77, or by sending a fax to (02) 48 29 51 73 or by sending a letter to P.O. Box 417, Goulburn, N.S.W. 2580 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].


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Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia