Have you ever thought about being a priest?
Uh, no... Isn't the priesthood boring?
Are you talking about the same priesthood we are? Priests have one of the most exciting jobs in the world! They stand with people in the most profound moments of life: at weddings, baptisms, deathbeds and everything inbetween. If you're called to be a priest, trust that you will be happy!
Well... I'm not holy enough.
You're right! Get over it. No priest who ever lived was worthy! Through God's grace, those who are called share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Of course you are not ready to be a priest now; This is what the years of seminary training are for. Give your weaknesses to God and trust that over time, you will grow in virtue.
Okay, I admit it. I've actually thought about becoming a priest.
You're not the first! Though they often won't admit it, tons of Catholic guys have passing thoughts about the priesthood. The problem is, they typically shove the thoughts aside either because they are afraid of celibacy or they think they are not good enough.
So what should I do differently?
Instead of ignoring these thoughts, find out what priesthood is really like!
Okay, wait a second; let's talk about the whole celibacy thing.
Celibacy is a big "yes!" instead of a burdensome "no!" The promise of celibate chasity means that a person promises not to get married or have sexual relations. This means that you say "no" to marriage in order to say a greater "yes" to Christ and his Church. Instead of giving yourself to one individual, you are able to be a shepherd for the whole family of the Church. Also, celibacy allows a priest to have one foot in heaven and one on earth as he surpasses earthly marriage to partake immediately in a perfect heavenly union with God.
But I have always wanted to be a dad.
Good! We have, too! All men are naturally drawn to fatherhood. It is written in our biology! The priesthood provides a unique opportunity for men. Instead of being a biological father to a few children, you are the spiritual father to billions. There is a reason why you receive the title, Father.
Well, aren't priests lonely?
Of Course. Priests can be lonely, just as often as people who are married, single or consecrated religious. We try to nurture significant relationships between our brother priests so we can fill our human need for closeness to other people and, of course, we pray. There is, however, a real difference between simply being alone and feeling lonely. Think about it!
Well, that doesn't sound too badly after all. Let's say I go through the whole process. What would I study?
A seminarian spends five to six years getting to know his future spouse, the Church. First he spends two to four years learning how to think and reason like the Church (philosophy). Then he studies how she makes decisions (ethics), her past stories (church history), laws (canon law) and how her members celebrate (the sacraments)! Additionally, seminarians put a face to their studies through various opportunities for pastoral ministry. This work experience helps men further discern their calling as disciples and spiritual fathers.
What kind of work does a priest do at a church? Does he just pray all day?
A priest has to stay on his toes! He doesn't spend all day behind a desk or in prayer. Rather, daily life can involve an exciting assortment of activities, which include visiting classes in the parish school, project planning, marriage preparation for an engaged couple, funerals, baptisms, exercising, homily preparation, counseling a troubled parishioner, returning phone calls and e-mails and finally some reading and relaxation. Flexibility is a must!
Is that all a priest can do with his gifts and talents?
No, diocesan priests can be canon lawyers serving on the the Tribunal, chaplains in high schools, colleges, prisons or hospitals. Some priests are teachers in high schools or professors in colleges and seminaries. Other priests are scholars in some field of Church studies, such as scripture scholars or moral theologians. Diocesan priests may work as licensed counselors and psychologists. Usually, priests in these various ministries have some connection to parish ministry, even if only on weekends.
This doesn't sound so bad after all. Where do I get more information?
The Vocation Office has many resources created just for you! Also, contact Fr. Luke Strand, Vocation Director, or Fr. Enrique Hernandez, Vocation Promoter, to set up your first appointment. They are young priests who have been in your shoes! Plus, they are always excited to meet men who are discerning the priesthood. You can reach Fr. Luke or Fr. Enrique at 414.747.6437 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will I be pressured to become a priest if I meet with Fr. Luke?
Of course not! Discernment is an on-going process and Fr. Luke simply wants to hear your story. If you meet with him, it can only open new doors to the future and give you a chance to ask more questions.