A Sinful Seminarian?


Hey everyone,
Could as many possible write back to this as possible?

For around two years now, I’ve been taking my friend to Mass with me, we visit the churches together and we pray the rosary together. He is a great friend but he recently said something that shook me to the ground. Out of the blue one day after Mass he said “I think I’m going to become a priest, what do you think?”. I didn’t know what to say to him; although he is coming to Mass and is very devout when he prays he suffers from that most regrettable quality of my nation in that when he drinks, he really drinks, to state of absolute stupor. Now, this is really the only thing that he does wrong in recent years but before we became friends he was a typical modern European, he didn’t care what he did or how he did it and he slept around, was drunk and partying all the time and he occasionally took drugs as well as dressing up as a bishop for Halloween one year. The thing is that he is known to have done all this and there are photographs all over social media sites of him at his worst.

Whilst I know that many of the great saints of the Church have been terrible sinners before their conversion, I worry that if he goes into the priesthood, his past may come back to haunt him and he will be a great scandal to the faithful should his previous life come to light. I don’t want to discourage what may be a very genuine vocation though, so I’m lost for what to do. Could you give me advice, particularly if you are a priest. Thanks.


God always call on sinners to be His ministers. Sts. Peter, Paul, Matthew… etc. St. Augustine was hedonistic before his conversion, and eventually becoming a bishop. Just pray for your friend, and trust in God’s will.


We are all sinners. There isn’t a perfect priest in the world. All priests and anyone discerning a vocation to the priesthood are in need of our prayers.


We often hear the phrase “I’m going to get married and settle down” but I have always viewed that as backward. It seems more sensible to settle down before (in preparation for) getting married. Thus, if your friend is serious about pursuing this vocation, he will “deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow” Jesus. Remember also that there is a series of scrutinies that he must face before being admitted to seminary. As well, those years in seminary will test him thoroughly and demonstrate whether or not he is deemed worthy of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He apparently has not hidden his past escapades, so you could ask how he plans to reconcile them with his future ambition. As choliks and stephe1987 have wisely mentioned: pray for him! I would suggest that you offer prayer before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.


There’s a big difference between past behavior and present sinful patterns. No doubt some people would love to discredit a priest by posting photos of scandalous stuff he did years before, but that’s just something the Church has to deal with. Christians believe in forgiveness. We are all forgiven sinners.

But if he has a current pattern of drunkenness, and this is a habit he is unwilling or unable to break, then perhaps you should charitably mention to him that maybe he needs to straighten this out before getting ordained.



Tell him to drink in moderation only and get his act together (but it sounds like he mostly has already).

Also tell him to delete as much unsavory material as he can on social media.

And pray for him. I’d really like to have a seminarian friend.


Your friend needs lots of time to consider his undertaking and lots of prayers. Give him advice not to hurry up but pray and ask God what His Will is. Priestly vocation is very importanat thing, if his vocation is true, God will sure give certain sign to confirm his choice. So pray with him and for him, and take him to some good pious and experienced priest for advice.And do not truble yourself with his past life.
Fiat voluntas Dei!!!


If he goes to discern this seriously, his past will come to the light in the process. From what I’ve heard about the process of being admitted to the seminary, it is very difficult to hide a thing.

There is no harm in him giving this a serious thought. Be supportive. Be honest about what you think but don’t give him the impression that he is not worthy.


I think this is a very good example how God work. He have most likely been watching your friend for a while and for some reason God know that he can be a very good priest. Maybe just because his past? As someone once said: “it takes one to know one”. Your friend know about the “bad” life and can most certainly teach others how to avoid what he have done.

God call us all to something. Not all will be priests or live in a monastery. But what ever we do, if we follow Christ, we do it because that is what God want us to do. To be married is one “call” and a very important one. And one who is divorced (like me) are called to a life in chastity. When God want us to do what He want we can use our free will, we can do what God wants or or do what we want. That is why we have a free will. Most important though is that we listen to God, search our soul and try to find out what God want us to do and then do what is right.


Encourage him. I’m sure the spiritual formation he would receive as a seminarian would be very helpful to him, if he’s called to be one. If he’s not, let the vocations director tell him that. You should let him know though that alcohol abuse generally is not tolerated at the seminary. If it continues to be a problem and he gets caught, he’ll likely get kicked out.


Hmmm… reminds me of a friend of mine!

Obviously he needs to sort out his drinking and complete abstinence from alcohol might not be a bad idea since priesthood involves frequently being alone and alone around a ready supply of alcohol! While some seminaries I know aren’t exactly “dry”, at the same time excessive drinking would be an issue.

As far as his past goes, he’s hardly be the first priest to have come from a hedonistic background and, if anything, it may well assist his ability to evangelise. Still, he should be up front about it during the interview process and be ready to say what he’s learned from it and how he’s grown and changed.


Just be supportive. It really isn’t your problem or your busines.



Take my comment with a grain of salt, because this is all out of context of not knowing the guy, but I was surprised by the prideful comment that he allegedly made, and I just hope it’s not indicative of his general attitude.

I think the better way to express one’s excitement might be along the lines of: “Thanks be to God for blessing me with my own unique gifts to draw upon as a priest… I am excited about the opportunity to make use of them!”


Is it really your job to discern for him? One doesn’t just walk up to the seminary doors and just say you want to be a priest and get admitted. If he is truely discerning he has to talk to his priest, the vocation director of the diocese (or religious order) and probably the bishop of his diocese. Discernment isn’t a one sided thing–the young man discerns if he is called, but so also does the diocese/seminary/religious order discerns if he is called.


a few comments

as stated before all priests are sinners and some priests come from very sinful backgrounds. I fully agree with what these posters said, BUT at the same time priests are called to a different kind of life than the lay faithful, while I’m not saying the lay faithful have an excuse to not live a virtuous, them living in vice while wrong doesn’t cause the scandal that a priest may cause when he lives in vice and people know it.

I would suggest that you support him in his vocation, suggest that he go talk to a priest about it, tell him to talk to his vocation director. Do what ever you can to help further discern this call to priesthood.

I would also suggest that you let him know that this isn’t only his decision the Church discerns along side you, and in the most charitable way you think you can do it, tell him that a priest is called to a life of virtue, and in fraternal charity tell him that the life style you are currently living could risk you not being able to come a priest. (I say this in all seriousness by the way) If he is “sleeping around” if he is taking drugs and the like, he is putting his call at risk.

I understand that some have said its not your business. But I would slightly disagree with this, while yes its not your job to discern for him at the same time I don’t think anyone in good conscious would sit back and do nothing when someone is living a life of vice. If you are his friend and you care about his salvation, the things you explain that this person does is harmful.

Again you must do this in charity, but we are putting people’s souls at risk if we ignore things these people are doing.

god willing As a priest if a teenager came up to me and said that he wanted to be a priest but I knew (outside of the seal of confessional) that this kid had some issues, discipline problems, drug issues, etc. I would say that I love that you are thinking about this and I think you would make a good priest but then in a very charitable tell him that you need to do some maturing before you enter seminary. I rather help the teen overcome his issues with drugs discipline before they put his entire formation at risk.

again support your friend but at the same time in the most charitable way tell him that the way he is living is putting at risk his call to priesthood.


want to add a couple things to emphasis things

  1. I would say suggest he talk to a priest and get a spiritual director, hopefully the priest would be able to iron out some of these issues
  2. don’t be afraid to tell him how you think he isn’t living out a life that a priest would be called to live. Warn him that your drinking, your sleeping around, your drug use, is putting your formation at risk. If he is serious enough about this call than he will change.


I get what your saying but for many men who are in seminary the priesthood is attractive to them and they can imagine themselves as priests. Many many men enter seminary with the thought I think I’m going o be a priest or I think God is going to call me a priest. Through seminary formation this call is tested and any shallow, false, misdirected desires for priesthood will work out if a man is giving himself fully to the formation process.

I believe what vocation directors and bishops want to see is a man who is striving to live a virtuous life, who has a desire to serve God’s people and a desire to become a priest. Even though some men can fly under the radar in seminary it is very difficult to do this. formatters know what they are doing and know what to look for. They aren’t perfect and a few bad apples sometimes get through, but most men will be formed into the priest God wants them to be through the Church and their openness to God’s will.


St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, had a very hedonistic background before his conversion. Just another one in a long, illustrious history of the Lord choosing ordinary sinners to do great things in His name.

The seminary will get to the bottom with this fellow. The priesthood is not for everyone and if his discernment is lacking, they’ll find out. That said, I wish him well.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.