At age fourteen Jean-Claude entered the minor seminary of St Jodard, a secondary school for boys preparing for priesthood, hoping to spend a life of quiet prayer in a gentle ministry. The disciplined lifestyle, obedience and piety came easily to him. The River Loire was nearby, close enough for the lads of St Jodard to stroll along its banks. In 1809 Jean-Claude continued his secondary studies at Alix and finally at Verrières-en-Forez.
Despite being beset with serious illness and questions raised about his suitability for an active life, Jean-Claude handled his studies without difficulty and, indeed, was among the top students.