Four new seminarians for the Diocese of Allentown have begun their studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia.
With the new additions, there are now 16 men in various stages of formation for the priesthood in our Diocese.
Seminary studies typically take eight years. Seminarians earn a Bachelor’s degree in their first four years, which is the College part of the program, and then go on for four more years of graduate studies in Theology. If a seminarian has completed a college degree before entering, he may require up to two years of Pre-Theology before entering the four-year Theology program.
Chuan (Justin) Trinh
Nikolai Brelinsky, 23, graduated from the College Division of St. Charles as a seminarian for the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., after which he took a year off for further discernment. This year, he began his Theology Studies as a seminarian for the Diocese of Allentown. His home parish is Holy Guardian Angels, Reading.
Dominic Civitella, 24, is a graduate of Notre Dame High School and graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in English Writing. As part of his studies there, he spent a semester in Japan. He is in the Pre-Theology I program, and his home parish is St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton. He worked in customer service for a large retail company before entering the seminary.
Tyle Davis, 28, is a 2017 graduate of DeSales University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Arts and Science, and Marketing and Philosophy. He is in the Pre-Theology I program at the seminary, and his home parish is Assumption BVM, Bethlehem. Prior to entering the seminary, he was a Sales Associate for Lampire Biological Laboratories, as well as a fitness coach and trainer.
Justin Trinh, 29, is from Thai Binh, Vietnam. He attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary at Orchard Lake, Michigan, before coming to the Diocese’s program at St. Charles. He is in his first year of Pre-Theology. His home parish is St. Clare of Assisi Parish, St. Clair
A Rigorous Screening and Application Process
Seminary candidates face a rigorous application and screening process that can take up to a year before being accepted into the seminary.
It starts with a telephone interview, followed by a detailed personal interview, with Father Christopher Butera, Director of the Office of Seminarian Formation.
Candidates also undergo a multi-day psychological evaluation that helps determine if they are suitable to enter formation. (There is a second battery of psychological tests later in their seminary studies.)
Each candidate is required to submit letters of recommendation and other detailed information as part of the process.
With regard to child safety issues, each candidate receives a criminal background check, including a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check, a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Certificate, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Background Fingerprint Check.
Candidates undergo a significant amount of training in recognizing and preventing child abuse, including the Protecting God’s Children training program.
The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary also has a separate application process, which must be completed successfully.
If a candidate passes all of the various checks and tests and meets all of the application criteria, he meets with the Commission for Orders and Ministries, which makes recommendations for acceptance to Bishop Alfred Schlert.
Anyone who is interested in a vocation to the priestly or religious life is encouraged to contact Father Mark Searles, Director of the Office for Vocations Promotion, at email@example.com.