From the time I was a child until late in high school, I though of becoming a priest and fervently prayed for a sign from God. I eventually received what I thought was a sign that perhaps God was not in fact calling me to a priestly vocation (a bit of a long and sad story). After graduating from high school I began a very rewarding career in funeral service, which has spanned the last 20 years. In 1998 I married and my wife and we had two beautiful sons (now 12 and 14). We had what I thought was a very happy and successful marriage, that is until I arrived home from work one afternoon to find that she had left me and our sons for a man she met on-line in England. This completely unexpected departure rocked me to the core and devastated our families. In speaking with her afterwards, she expressed that she was completely unhappy with our marriage and wanted to end it - I was blown away! I have to say that I could not see how we could move on as husband and wife when the very core of our marriage - trust and faith - were so damaged. That was two years ago. She is currently living with another man and she is part of our children’s lives. During this past year I have felt that same call from God as I did throughout my school years. I continue to pray fervently and attend mass regularly - God, in addition to a very supportive family, has truly been my rock for these last few years. But I am very confused - I want to answer God’s call, but at the same time I feel like a hypocrite and even feel as though I’m being blasphemous. So I guess what I’m wondering is this: can a divorced man with children become a priest? Also, given the fact that I am 41 and have no university degree, I have to ask: what educational commitments would be expected of me? I haven’t spoken with my parish priest yet. I thought I would try posting something here in order to get some feedback first. I appreciate all your comments…don’t hold back.
Older men can become priests but your options are limited. Some dioceses accept older men, many do not.
As to your being married, you need an annulment of course. That is, if you marriage is indeed invalid, which it may not be.
Children: I am pretty sure they need to be non-dependent, ie over 18.
Maybe think about the diaconate. Note: the diaconate and the priesthood are not the same vocation and just because you have a vocation to the diaconate does not mean you have a vocation to the priesthood. So they are not interchangeable, but maybe you do have a vocation the diaconate. In that case, having children is not really an impediment (as long as you can still take care of them).
My sympathy over your marital situation. Of course, your first responsibility is your sons until they are grown. You can discern if you may have grounds for an annulment. Both of those issues take precedence over a religious vocation. You can certainly devote yourself to study and prayer and volunteer work for the Church. You should talk over all of this with your pastor.
Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance & direction.
You can serve as a Lay Minister for the time being. Praying for you.
Pray and meditate a lot… You will find an answer…
I think I know how u feel,
I don’t know the answer to your questions specifically, and it strikes me that the fact that your children are still dependent upon you for support may be a problem, but that will end sooner than you imagine.
Given that, with annulment, should that occur, I’d think you may look in to moving forward. Our parish at one time had a very fine priest who once related the story of his call to us, and it is not unlike yours. He was called early, but married, and basically became a fallen away Catholic. His marriage failed and he was divorced. Tragedy struck and his estranged wife and young children died in a fire. He became suicidal, and then the call resumed, noted first by people who only barely knew him rather than he himself.
Could God be calling you? He could be. If your marriage was invalid, and your duties of a father are satisfied, why not?