Originally Posted by matthewdknight
Do you have to go where the Vatican sends you, or do you have some say in the matter? Do priests even have a salary, pension plan, et cetera? What are the requirements beyond seminary?
I'm particularly interested in the Dominican order. Would any Dominicans be open to sharing their stories? Thanks so much in advance. Pax Christi.
The answer to those questions depends on what kind of vocation you're living. First, lets distinguish between the priesthood and religious life, or essentially between secular priests and religious priests for the purposes of your questions.
A secular priest is for the most part you're regular parish priest. He has a college degree, then completes seminary and is ordained a priest. He makes a promise of obedience to his ordinary (his bishop) which binds him for all diocesan matters (essentially, for work). The secular priest gets paid a salary and has to save his own pension plan, health insurance, ect (unless the diocese has something for the priests). I've seen Brother JR say several times that a secular priest can refuse to be sent to a certain parish, but if he's not woking then he doesn't get paid.
A secular priest is free to do anything that would not cause scandal when not doing official priestly duties. He can live wherever he chooses (the rectory or a private residence), he can go to the movies, the mall, take supplemental courses in school or whatever.
A religious priest is a consecrated religious person who has subsequently been called to be a priest. The Dominicans are an example of a religious order. People who become a Religious are a Religious first, even if they are also a priest. Religious don't receive individual salaries or anything because they take a vow of poverty. Their Order (or Congregation) provides everything for them - food, housing, clothing, transportation, ect. If a Religious works a job that makes money (like a professor), the money goes to the Order, not to the person. The Order is obliged to take care of it's members from the time they make final vows until they die.
Religious also make a vow of obedience, which means they must follow the direction of their Superior. If the Superior says you're going to go teach in California, then you're going to go teach in California. If the Superior says you're going to go preach on the streets of Amsterdam, then you're going to go preach on the streets of Amsterdam. In some Orders and Congregations they do not usually do that though and allow you to have some choice (so if an "opening" comes up at one of their ministries, you can "apply" for that opening as it were).
The best thing to do is to talk to a spiritual director, someone in the Church you trust. Probably the best place to start is your parish priest, and he will at the very least refer you to someone. Be open to God's Will (because God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He will always guide you to the best path for your life), receive the Sacraments frequently, and pray. Spend some time in quiet Adoration if you can.