Founded in 2007 at the request and under the direction of the Bishops Advisory Board, the Rome Experience is a summer program that provides seminarians preparing for the diocesan priesthood the opportunity to contemplate and nurture their divine call to the priesthood and to holiness as they pray and study in the heart of the Catholic Church, beside the Chair of St. Peter, and at the tombs of the saints and martyrs.

The program follows the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s Directory for the Ministry and the Life of the Priests, and is inspired by the thought and teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva, diocesan priest and founder of Opus Dei (1928), and the Association of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross (1943). He devoted many years of his life to both the fraternal and spiritual support of priests and remains a spiritual guide for many priests today. The program concludes in Spain with a pilgrimage “In the Footsteps of St. Josemaria.”

The Rome Experience is designed to complement existing programs of formation in diocesan seminaries for seminarians that have completed at least their first year of theology.

A cultural and spiritual pilgrimage for diocesan seminarians

Through The Rome Experience, seminarians have the opportunity to pray and learn at some of the holy and historically significant sites of Christianity, including the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France, the major basilicas of Rome, the Catacombs, and many more.

As a pilgrimage experience, The Rome Experience encourages the seminarians prayerfully to discover the hand of God in his Church and to receive a stimulus for their spiritual lives and ongoing formation. As pilgrims, they will benefit more deeply from:

Spiritual Formation

  • 5-day retreat in Ars, France
  • Daily schedule that includes Holy Mass, the liturgy of the hours, mental prayer, and the Holy Rosary
  • Sacrament of Penance, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and spiritual meditations
  • Living in close proximity to the Holy Father
  • Pilgrimages to churches and tombs of the martyrs and saints


  • Seminarians from across the United States
  • Daily prayers, meals, and classes
  • Movie nights
  • Sports and hiking excursions
  • Free-time

Cultural & Intellectual Formation

  • Being immersed in the cultural history of the Church
  • Experiencing the beauty of the Church’s art and architecture
  • Academic courses:
  • History of the Church and Papacy
  • Biblical Theology
  • Christian Art and Architecture
  • Expert instructors from the United States and Rome
  • Guided tours and excursions to religious and cultural sites
  • Papal liturgies and audiences
  • Visits to Vatican Congregations



His Eminence James Cardinal Stafford
Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary

Most Rev. David R. Choby
Diocese of Nashville

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Diocese of Lincoln

Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Emeritus Diocese of Kansas-City-St. Joseph

Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino
Diocese of Madison

Most Rev. Alexander K. Sample
Archdiocese of Portland

Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann
Diocese of Orange


Rev. James Socias

Rev. Peter V. Armenio

Mrs. Charmaine D. Roth

Rev. Eric Nielsen
University of Wisconsin at Madison, Diocese of Madison

Rev. John Sims Baker
Pontifical College Josephinum, Diocese of Nashville

Very Rev. Ronald W. Cattany
Rector and Pastor Cathedral Basilica, Archdiocese of Denver

Rev. Christopher Mahar
Seminary of Our Lady of Providence, Diocese of Providence

Miss Elia Rivera
St. Josemaria Institute




“This has been one of the most transformative formation experience of my time as a seminarian. And it helped me fall even more in love with our Church. I am returning to my seminary with a new perspective – a Roman perspective, one coming from the heart of the Church.”

Stephen Kenyon
Mount Angel Seminary – Archdiocese of Portland
The Rome Experience Class of 2015


“This is an amazing opportunity that few people get, and I feel extremely blessed to have been a part of it. The emphasis on personal spiritual growth, the chance to see the history, sanctity, and governance of the Church up close, and the friendships I’ve made with other seminarians are all extremely valuable.”

Steven Reeves
St. Meinrad Seminary – Archdiocese of Louisville
The Rome Experience Class of 2015

“The priesthood is a participation in the priesthood of Christ so we have to one heart and one mind to think and act as Christ would act and that starts from having an interior life and getting to know Him in prayer, as your God and your friend. And that’s something that’s been awesome about The Rome Experience… the importance of our spiritual life every day.”

Philip Klaas
Immaculate Conception College Seminary – Diocese of Madison
The Rome Experience Class of 2014


“The Rome Experience, in particular through the intellectual or educational component, has done a lot to bring me back to Christ and help me fall in love again with the One who I’m doing it all for.”

Matthew Wheeler
St. John Seminary – Archdiocese of Los Angeles
The Rome Experience Class of 2014


“Being selected by my archbishop was certainly an honor for me and as I’ve gone through the program it has become more of an honor… the program builds on the four pillars of the priestly formation of the seminary, which is actually kind of a hard thing to do but this, it hits all four of pastoral, spiritual, intellectual, and human development, and so… it means a lot that he is that interested in my development…”

Andrew Smith
Mount St. Mary’s of the West Seminary – Archdiocese of Cincinnati
The Rome Experience Class of 2014