High Calling Program

The High Calling Program

To accompany each applicant through the course of the program, a faculty consisting of noted priests, ecclesial leaders, and theologians offer up to 13 three-week modules.

Alongside the discerner’s spiritual director or mentor, each faculty member is committed to providing individualized feedback to each student. This feedback is then collated into an evaluation for the vocations director. In this sense, we are a helpful tool to assist the vocations director as well as the admissions team in the discernment process for the discerner.

At its center, the High Calling Program endeavors to offer a solid basis for the spiritual life […]

At its center, the High Calling Program endeavors to offer a solid basis for the spiritual life and to nurture a greater self-awareness for personal growth and discernment. (Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, 59).

The High Calling Program
The High Calling Program

Why We Exist

  • The need to re-encounter Christ in the interior life:

    In obedience to the magisterium, and by placing the Holy Spirit at the center of all its activity, the High Calling Program is a substantive discernment period aimed toward an intimate encounter with Christ.

    Each module encourages the men to think critically about who they are before God and how God is inviting them into the Divine Indwelling.

  • The need for healing and helping men live life to the full:

    Men striving to become missionary disciples who are discerning the priesthood are often in need of spiritual healing and moral guidance to thrive and live life to the full.

    In a climate of social alienation that afflicts contemporary culture, nothing can replace the actual gatherings of faith and personal meetings that vocations directors already provide for men in discernment.

    The High Calling Program effectively supplements these efforts with a deeper kind of instruction, more frequent communication, and other opportunities that build solidarity before seminary begins.

  • The need for spiritual directors and conversion:

    Men today rarely have anyone to mentor them through the learning and discernment process.

    The High Calling program provides spiritual directors and instructors who propose the truth about one’s faith and one’s own humanity in a way that invites ongoing conversion of life.

Areas of Concentration

Each module is designed to guide applicants through their process of discernment addressing common questions and concerns in addition to helping each man attain readiness for the application process and/or seminary formation.

  1. Mental Prayer and Liturgical Prayer
  2. The Way of Discernment and Spiritual Direction
  3. Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  4. The Human Person, Masculinity and Celibacy
  5. Temperance and Social Media
  6. Missionary Discipleship and How to Thrive in Seminarian Formation

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  • Module 0: The Way of Holiness/Orientation Seminar

    God has called us out from the world and into the life of the Church. What does that mean?

    The opening module addresses this question by reflecting on the call of God and the way of personal holiness. God has a specific plan for each of us, but knowing this plan is to take the first step of claiming our sonship in Christ and allowing God to mold our hearts as His own (cf CCC, 2563).

  • Module 1: The Way of Prayer

    This module explores the wisdom of St. Teresa, Doctor of the Church, and the normal progress of prayer and holiness of life as revealed in her writings.

    An advocate of contemplative prayer, her writings are filled with practical suggestions and a living devotion to Christ that can enrich one’s prayer and discernment.

  • Module 2: The Way of Discernment

    This module will explore the time-tested wisdom of the Catholic mystics to better understand the enemy’s influence on the mind and heart, and the tactics needed to combat him. This examination of spiritual warfare will include a reflection on the ebbs and flows of consolation and desolation and teaching to distinguish between the voices of God and Satan. After this module, you will come to see the spiritual life not as a science to be learned, but as an intuitive art to be practiced as you move with increasing success from habitual sin to sanctity and holiness.

  • Module 3: The Way of Sacramental Friendship

    This module explores the role of the priest who is “in persona Christ” – the power to act, in the person of Christ, when exercising their sanctifying, teaching, and guiding functions for the sake of the mystical Body of Christ, the Church. With a special emphasis on the sacrament of the Eucharist, this module then explores how the sacrifice of Christ helps shape and form friendships into holy, sacramental friendships.

  • Module 4: The Way of Priesthood in Scripture

    Did you know that Adam, in the garden of Eden, was a priest? Who was Melchizedek? What does the Old Testament priesthood have to do with Catholic priests today? In this module, we will walk through the scriptural roots of the Catholic priesthood with Dr. John Bergsma. Dr. Bergsma will reveal how the priesthood is a major thread holding together the biblical storyline and how those who receive Holy Orders today are sewn into that same story!

  • Module 5: The Way of the Hours

    This introduction to the practice and daily discipline of praying the psalms in priestly formation endeavors to build an awareness of liturgy as a participation in the prayer of Christ and the prayer of the Church. It discusses how the Liturgy of the Hours is connected to both the Mass and personal prayer, and why this prayer is essential for progress in vocational discernment.

  • Module 6: The Way of Mary

    This module will consist of a theological investigation of the doctrines and magisterial teachings concerning the singular role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the providential plan of salvation. This will be followed by examining the important relationship between discipleship, discernment, and Marian devotion. Lastly, there will be a theological and pastoral analysis of the Marian messages from the principle apparitions of Mary in the modern world.

  • Module 7: The Way of God the Father

    “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). This three-week module will be an exercise in contemplating Jesus Christ as the definitive interpreter and living icon of God the Father (Jn 1:18; Col. 1:15). Following the guidance of Sacred Scripture and the theological reflections of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we will bring to light the glorious features of the face of the Father. This is the true God and Father whom (with Christ and in Christ) we are called to imitate as his beloved sons/children (Eph 5:1; Mt 5:48).

  • Module 8: The Way of Affective Maturity and Practical Chastity

    This module reviews specific challenges present in the entertainment industry and offers life skills for dealing with them. The unit suggests apps and other resources that promote balanced participation in social media, protect against pornography, and support Catholic spirituality. By discussing practices such as periodic “media” fasts and other helpful suggestions, seminary applicants will discern ways to become wise media consumers and good witnesses to the faith.

  • Module 9: The Way of Manhood in Christ

    Loving the Church well as a celibate priest relies upon an understanding of manhood, chastity, spiritual fatherhood, and celibacy. This module will explore these four themes as elements of a healthy celibate and priestly life, capable of giving life in the order of grace in such a way that it contributes to the priest’s own flourishing and happiness as a man.

  • Module 10: The Way of Healing

    In this Module, Sister Miriam will explore the profound significance of healing as a continuous encounter with Christ, an encounter that invites us into communion with Him, revealing our true identity and vocation, making us more whole. The first step in this journey begins with humility, recognizing that humility involves thinking less about oneself rather than having a lesser opinion of oneself. Ultimately, Sister Miriam will guide the men to understand that Christianity transcends mere wound management—it's about attaining freedom in Christ.

  • Module 11: The Way of Seminary Discipleship

    This module reflects on the call of God and the way of seminary life. By emphasizing missionary discipleship, this module starts the conversation on the importance of being an instrument of grace in the place God calls you.


By applying to the High Calling Program with the Avila Institute you are embarking on a path of prayer, discernment and being mentored in the heart of the Church.

When you apply, our team will walk with you through each step.

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Pre-theology level with a commitment of 2-3 hours of reading and writing per week.

Yes, many of our students are working full-time or going to school full-time. The students find the workload very manageable.

No, this is a pre-seminary formation program.