Congregation of Holy Cross

Formation Process

Explore the process that prepares young men for life as a priest or brother of Holy Cross.

Formation is the process by which a man prepares for life as a priest or brother, and every religious community conducts it a little differently. Continued discernment is an essential part of formation, since the process gives a man the tools and experience he will need in order to discern well. Formation also helps a man grow in his identity as a priest or brother. The process does not change a man into something he is not; rather, it helps a man become who he really is and who God created him to be.

Our formation programs incorporate the pillars set forth by Saint John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation. Since we are preparing men for religious life, our programs also emphasize formation for community life and for living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“Formation, as the Church understands it, is not equivalent to a secular sense of schooling or, even less, of job training. It begins for all Christians at Baptism and continues throughout life.”

Program for Priestly Formation, paragraph 114

First Steps

No matter where you are in your spiritual and educational journey, we provide discernment opportunities that give you the freedom to pursue God’s will for your life.


Old College Undergraduate Seminary

For men aged 18-22 who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degree, Old College is a unique program that allows them to experience seminary life first-hand while earning a degree of their choice from the University of Notre Dame or neighboring Holy Cross College. Collegians live on Notre Dame’s campus, and together they discern their calls while participating in daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, regular adoration and confession, spiritual direction, and more.

Explore Old College

old college undergraduate seminary from across the street
Moreau Seminary from St. Joseph's Lake


Moreau Seminary Postulant Program

The yearlong postulancy, offered to college graduates under the age of 35, offers the opportunity to enter into a rhythm of prayer and live alongside the temporarily professed men in formation who are completing their graduate studies in theology. The Postulant Program allows one to discern one’s vocation to Holy Cross more deeply while also preparing one for the novitiate, which would be the next stage in formation for priesthood or brotherhood in Holy Cross.

Explore Moreau Seminary

Delve into Formation

Begin Your Journey

Now that you know your options, if you’d like more information about Old College Undergraduate Seminary or the Moreau Seminary Postulant Program, contact a vocations director today!

Contact Vocations

Undergraduate men outside

Next Steps

After your initial period of discernment in Old College or the Moreau Postulant Program, the next phases of formation focus on deepening your relationship with God and preparing you for a life of service to the People of God as a priest or religious brother of Holy Cross.


Holy Cross Novitiate

After professing first vows for one year at the end of their postulancy, men spend a year at the Holy Cross Novitiate in the mountains of Colorado, right outside of Colorado Springs. There, they deepen their relationship with God and delve into his will through prayer, frequent sacraments, and contemplative silence. During this time, men also discern whether they are called to continue their formation as an aspiring brother or priest.

Explore the Novitiate

Holy Cross Novitiate
man walking outside at college

Moreau Seminary & Various Locations

Temporary Vows

After men return from the novitiate, they embark on a period of 4-5 years of temporary vows, which are renewed annually. During this time, they earn a Master of Divinity (or, for some brothers, a Master of Arts in Theology) from the University of Notre Dame. Men also take on a wide variety of ministerial work, including care for the poor and homeless, pro-life counseling, parish administration, campus ministry, a summer abroad at one of Holy Cross’ foreign missions, and much more. Their responsibilities increase over the course of this time and provide countless preparatory experience that will help them live out their unique vocations.


Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Final Vows & Ordination

Final Vows and Ordination are two of the biggest events of the year, when new brothers and priests officially join the Holy Cross community.

Final Vows takes place in late August; it is when all men who have completed their periods of temporary vows make a solemn promise to live out the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in Holy Cross. Ordination takes place on the Saturday of the Easter Octave; it is when men who have discerned the call to the priesthood are invested with the power to administer the sacraments.

Jesus Alonso's Final Profession - prostration

Holy Cross Brother

For men who have discerned the call to be a brother of Holy Cross, Final Vows is the culmination of their formation. It is here that they publicly and permanently devote their lives to serve the People of God. After their profession, they enter into full-time ministry, serving on campuses, in hospitals, in homeless shelters, and anywhere else where a brotherly presence is needed in the lives of the faithful.

Fr. Andrew Fritz, C.S.C. and Fr. John Sebastian Gutierrez, C.S.C., exit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart following their ordination to the priesthood in 2023

Holy Cross Priest

Men who have discerned the call to serve God’s people through administering the sacraments profess perpetual vows   alongside the brothers. It is at this point that they officially join the Holy Cross community. The next day, they are ordained to the diaconate and embark on a six-month placement to serve at a Holy Cross parish or similar apostolate. In the spring, they are at last ordained priests through the laying on of hands — both the hands of the ordaining bishop and of the entire Holy Cross community.