Monday, May 23 – Monday, July 4, 2022

On The Rome Experience, seminarians find themselves face-to-face with the living story of the Catholic Church throughout the ages. Beginning with St. John Vianney’s village of Ars, France and proceeding to the major basilicas of Rome, seminarians store up countless experiences that will invigorate their vocation and offer lifelong inspiration. As a pilgrimage, the program persistently encourages seminarians to prayerfully discover the hand of God in his Church and to craft personalized commitments in their spiritual lives and ongoing formation.

The Rome Experience is designed to function as an extension of existing programs of formation for diocesan seminarians who have completed at least their first year of theology by the start of the program. Applicants must be recommended by their bishops and vocation directors.

Download the 2022 Application

Brochure Application



Rome, “The Eternal City,” attracts millions of visitors each year. While tours and exploration in Rome are scheduled, seminarians are invited into a spirit of prayer and pilgrimage, remembering that they have come to Rome as future priests to pray and study next to the Chair of St. Peter and the saints, while providing a witness to the Faith.

Arrive in Chicago
Accommodations – University of St. Mary of the Lake (Mundelein, IL)

Flight Departing for Lyon, France

Arrive in Lyon
Accommodations – Foyer Sacerdotal Jean-Paul II

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2022 (ARS):
Begin Spiritual Retreat

TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022 (ARS):
Retreat Ends

Arrive in Rome
Accommodations – Casa di Santa Brigida

Academic Program Begins
Classes at Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

Return to the US

* PLEASE NOTE: The itinerary is tentative.
A final schedule will be given to each seminarian at orientation.



The academic courses follow the directives of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s Directory for the Ministry and the Life of the Priests (1994) and The Gift of the Priesthood (December 8, 2016).


Priests in the New Evangelization (1.00 credit)

Pastores dabo vobis articulates a crucial conversation in the Church in asking, “How can we form priests who are truly able to respond to the demands of our times and capable of evangelizing the world of today?” (no. 10). St. John Paul II expounds that “priests, like the apostles, act as ambassadors of Christ” (no. 16) and need to have a physical and spiritual closeness to people that touches and moves their hearts. While on retreat in Ars, and in Rome, seminarians contemplate what it means that a priest is “a priest forever” (Heb 7:17) and how personal holiness is the remedy for all things. The lives of our patrons — St. John Paul II, St. John Vianney, and St. Josemaria Escriva — serve as models and inspiration for what it means to be in the world, but not worldly, and how to maintain the dignity of the priesthood at all times and in all places.


The Basilicas, Churches, and Catacombs of Rome (3.50 credits)

The patriarchal basilicas, catacombs and other ancient churches in Rome are an encyclopedia of Church history and theology taught not in words but in indelible images of architecture, sculpture, painting, and mosaic. As with the interpretation of stained glass windows, however, one needs to learn the art of reading that encyclopedia, by understanding the meaning and context of the symbols used. Through readings and discussion in the classroom, and a series of in-depth guided tours, seminarians will have the various volumes opened for them, to confirm them as followers of Christ and future evangelizers.




The Rome Experience courses are accredited by the:

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Piazza Sant’Apollinare, 49
00186, Rome, Italy

The Human Virtues for Priestly Fatherhood:
Character, Steadfastness, and Self-Mastery
(1.00 credits)

Optatam Totius highlights “strength of character…sincerity of mind, a constant concern for justice, fidelity to one’s promises, refinement in manners, modesty in speech coupled with charity” (no. 11) as virtues toward which seminarians should strive. With the current confusion on gender in our society, the Church needs men with a clear priestly identity who steadfastly exercise the strength of character to help promote the holiness of all men and women, celibate and married, lay and consecrated. This course will offer a theoretical account of these virtues and how they can be acquired through Aristotelian-Thomistic anthropology, and St. Josemaria Escriva’s practical proposals for seeking holiness through the valiant pursuit of human virtues.


Pastoral Practice Seminar (.50 credit)

This seminar will help the seminarian bridge the gap between the theological and spiritual principles learned during The Rome Experience with the lived experience of a parish priest. The goal is to help the seminarian to understand his future responsibility as a priest to imitate and live out Christ’s own pastoral charity—a pastoral charity that, in essence, requires a total gift of self to the Church and that makes special demands on the parish priest (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 23).


“If you use your time well, Rome will leave a mark on your soul, a deep, lasting imprint. And, you will be able to be a more faithful son of the Church.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

The Rome Experience’s daily schedule* is designed to help the participants benefit the most from all program offerings, to foster fraternity, and to remain intimately united to Christ through prayer and study.

Visits with family, friends, brother seminarians, and priests are only permitted during scheduled free time. Family and friends visiting Rome should be informed of this policy. Visits from vocation directors, rectors, or bishops may occur at any time that is convenient.


8:00   AM Breakfast
9:00   AM Class
10:00 AM Class
11:00 AM Break
12:00 PM Angelus / Class
1:00   PM Lunch


  • Morning Prayer
  • Holy Mass
  • Afternoon Tours/Classes
  • Evening Prayer
  • Dinner
  • Holy Rosary
  • Examination of Conscience and Night Prayer


  • Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction
  • Confession and Spiritual Direction
  • Papal Liturgies
  • Visits to Vatican Congregations
  • Tours and Excursions

* PLEASE NOTE: The daily schedule is subject to change.
A final schedule will be given to each seminarian at orientation.




The Rome Experience begins with a 5-day spiritual retreat in Ars, France focused on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as the source and root of the priestly life. The retreat is a time for prayer, reflection, and rest to prepare the seminarians to fully absorb their spiritual pilgrimage to Rome.




Unless otherwise noted, students have free time every Saturday from noon until Sunday evening prayer.




View photos taken by past seminarians who participated in The Rome Experience below.