Am I called to be a priest? Please hear my story (long).

Hello everyone,

I have not talked to a priest about this yet but I was hoping maybe y’all would be able to relate to me or not. This post will be quite long but I will do my very best to keep it as short as possible. Here I am right now typing this when I should be studying for my exams next week. Of course, I couldn’t really concentrate but you will see why.

I will be 23 years old this year and I graduated from one of the best university’s in the nation last spring. My ultimate dream is to become a dentist, own the top practice in the area, and open up the first dental clinic in my hometown so I can help those who cannot afford basic dental work. I have had this dream since I was little. Simply put, I want to see people smile despite their hardships. Unfortunately, I was rejected by every school I applied to. After speaking to dentists, admission directors, and dental students, I decided that my best course of action was to go home, enroll at the local 4 year university and do a post bac (basically, take more upper level biology classes) to improve my GPA. I knew that as a post bac student, I had to do very well in order to show the admissions committee that I am capable to handle dental school intellectually and emotionally. I entered the fall semester with a determination and an unmatched fiery passion for dentistry. After many nights of prayer, I received all A’s last semester and I hope to do well this semester.

My initial plan was to only take classes for a year and then reapply after with a stronger DAT (dental aptitude test) score as well. However, with competition for 300 or so dental spots in the state of TX, I talked to a dentist who has REALLY good ties with the dental school I hope to be accepted to. She agreed with my plan and even went on to praise to her staff that I will make a great dental student/dentist in the future. This really made me smile because I knew I was on the right track. My parents are immigrants from Vietnam and have always supported and loved me and I knew that telling them my new plans would go smoothly. Boy, I have never been more wrong in my entire life.

I told my parents the following night and they were shocked. They began questioning my plans and they doubted I was doing the right thing. This conversation turned into an argument for over 4hrs. I began to feel so frustrated and I broke down. For the first time since I was little, tears rolled down my face in front of my parents.I felt my dreams starting to crumble and doubt filled my every thought. Another argument broke out of nowhere and they basically confirmed that they didn’t think I could get into dental school. My parents whom I have loved and always thought they were my rock did not think I could do it.
The intense and burning drive I had to succeed was wiped out and my performance on the round of tests was poor. Didn’t fail anything but my performance was inexcusable.

Please let me backtrack a little bit to my childhood. Ever since I was little, everyone I knew thought that I would make a great priest. My Sunday school teachers would praise my knowledge of the Faith and have encouraged me to the priesthood. There was this one memorable moment I had when I received First Communion. I was 8 at the time. I remember waiting my turn in line to receive Christ. My fellow friends were receiving Communion one after another. When it was finally my turn, the priest raised the Eucharist to me, he didn’t say “The Body of Christ.” Instead, he was saying something silently. His lips were moving and looking back, I strongly believe he was saying some prayer. I stood there for at least 30 seconds and he finally said “The Body of Christ.” to which I happily said, “Amen.” I knew I was standing there for awhile and my parents even said, “What did the priest say to you up there?” My response was “I don’t know. I did everything right and I was he was mumbling what looked like a prayer.”

When I was 14, I received the sacrament of Confirmation and I have never been more proud. I gained a greater appreciation of the Faith and adored all Catholic related items (Crucifixes, Rosaries, Statues, even Holy Water was awesome to me). The idea of being a priest crossed my mind a few times but I just kept pushing it back thinking it was nothing. Was I selfish to not think it was Christ trying to tell me something? I truly don’t know.

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My desire to do well isn’t as strong as last semester but I feel like I have lost my dreams and sense of direction. I truly do want to be a dentist but during the past 3 months since my argument with my parents, I began to doubt myself. Could I get in to dental school? MANY dentists around the nation have applied multiple times and they are now successful. I have not even applied twice yet. The doubt began to amplify and I began to search desperately for a different back up career. What if my parents were right? But how can they be right? No offense to my parents, but they really don’t know what it takes to get accepted into dental school. They even think that the admissions director and deans were lying to me when they were giving me advice :confused:.

I have been up really late at night at times. Sometimes 3-4am on a school searching for backup careers. Then one night, the idea of being a priest hit me. Then it hit me again. and again. and again. Even now as I type. How can I be a priest? Who am I, a person with all these dreams be a priest? My other lifelong dream is to also have a family and if God decides to bless me with 3-4 kids, I would be truly happy. How can I be a priest with this idea planted in my head? I also have been fighting habitual sin of masturbation, pornography, cussing, etc for awhile. I win every now and then but when I fall, I try my best to go to confession. But how can a person like me with all these sins ever dream of being a priest? What gives me the right to hear the sins of other people when I myself am trying to fight off my own demons? What gives me the right to celebrate Mass and turn simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our amazing Savior? How can I be a priest?

Let’s say that I do end up going to seminary school to be a priest. How can I even tell my parents that? They paid so much money for my undergraduate education… I wouldn’t even know how to help them repay that back even though they never asked me to repay them. I do want to say that my parents are religious and always tell me to ask God for help.
What I have noticed between being a priest and a dentist is that they both help people. This is my truest dream. To help those who need help. Rich or poor, it does not matter to me. I want to help people and I ALWAYS put myself below others…even people who are mere strangers to me, I will do my best to help.

One last thing. Is it possible that I am just thinking about backup careers is because I am just scared and feel like I am alone in all this? I NEVER want Christ to be a backup for anything. He is my number 1 and I ask daily in prayer, multiple times throughout the day “God. Please help me.”
I apologize for writing such a long post but I want to thank you for those who got through it. If you could offer any bit of advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you and God bless

From what I got, you feel discouraged by your parents. Have you asked what they actually want that you do?

The three things that stand out for me are a) your discouragement in your primary goal, namely dentistry, and your thoughts of a fallback career; b) the fact that as a youth, others said you should be a priest; and c) your desire to raise a family.

The priesthood is not a fallback position for another calling, particularly when you haven’t yet failed in your first position. As you said, many apply several times before entering dental school.

You have misgivings because of the resistance to your efforts. I’d say concentrate on overcoming that resistance. Do not worry about the priesthood, as this prospect seems to be others’ dream for you.


Your burning desire to be a dentist working for the poor indicates that God has called you to that. You can witness to Jesus Christ in a profound way by living that vocation.
If God wanted you to be a priest he would make it your top priority and you would know it.

Parents usually mean well but are often misguided. My grandmother wanted my father to be a dentist in the worst way. They were a very poor family and she figured he would make a lot of money and help her support their family of twelve.

My father was a brilliant man. He spoke eight languages. However he had no aptitude for science nor did he feel attracted to being a dentist. He was not good with hospitals, blood, nor sick people. He did not have manual dexterity. As noble as being a dentist is, he lacked the desire and talent to do it. He would have been a poor dentist.

In 4th grade a Sister/Teacher told him he could someday be a great writer. He was great at it and that became his dream. He went on to write for a famous newspaper as a book reviewer
And a music reviewer as well as writing great chess columns. (Cont).

He ended up
Touching many lives. Many well known musicians got their career break because he cared enough to write about them and introduce them to the right people. Though they were talented, they might still be struggling if he hadn’t helped them. Music is a tough business.
My point here is not to brag about my father. He simply took his God given talents and developed them to the fullest. He used them to help people.

There are many ways to serve God. Often your childhood dream is what God is calling you to. Sometimes you have to respectfully disagree with your parents and follow the desire Yod has put in your heart. Your, talents, desires and inclinations are all signs of God’s will.

I believe you are on a good path. Continue to ask advice from your professors about what advanced courses to take for dental school. Also, remember that admissions people like well rounded candidates so be sure to list any volunteer work, sports or hobbies
On your application.
Don’t worry God will give you many opportunities to serve Him as only you can. (Cont)

Please talk to a good priest about your anxieties. Ask Sts. Mary and Joseph for help with anxiety around studying, test taking, focusing and telling family of career plans. They are there to help you.

My friend, the priesthood is not a backup career.

It is a vocation. As a career, I would certainly NOT recommend it! :smiley:

I would say…
Keep plowing away at the dentist thing.
It is very true that your child knows your vocation better than your adult knows.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have that knowledge and they wind up falling into a life place they never wanted. My husband is just like that. It makes him a sad boy. And he doesn’t even understand why.

I have been in your shoes. I’m a lot older than you, and never was able to overcome my fathers selfishness around what I should do in life. I had a specific career mapped out and had worked hard in high school to have what I needed to in order to get there.
In the end, my father refused to pay for my schooling, leaving me with no alternative way to get the funding I needed for the academic career I had wanted since I was about 12.

I wound up floundering around until I met a man and married him. I had no business marrying him, and he had no business marrying anyone. It was a terrible experience for me and the divorce many years later was bad too. I would up a housewife instead of the archaeologist I had dreamed of. I am still devastated in many ways, and often unhappy in how my life went.

Now I am old, and I am too old to pursue my dream, even though I have a wonderful husband now. I basicly went through life trying to fit into the cracks of other people’s lives because the door I wanted was slammed in my face and I didn’t know what else to do in order to survive. It is a waste of my talent and interests, and has set me up for a lifetime of longing.

So… I say, continue the dentist track. Do whatever you can to get there. Your parents are from a different time and place than you. This is true about every child and parent. Show then they were wrong about you, and allow them to be proud of you in the end.

Once you are trained and in business, no one cares about your grades. Just get the qualifacations you need and be the best you can be.
Do not spend your life looking behind you.

Continue on doing ur best to become a dentist, forget ur backup plans, you got a shock and these backup plans are distracting u. Do ur very best… If after that u don’t get into dental school after another try or two u then can think of other options. Please hit the books now!!! God has put u on this path, so follow it until he puts u on a different path. Ur parents will be proud of u when u get into dental school. God bless u!

I would recommend that you get a spiritual director. Pray to the Blessed Mother and try to find a priest who is rock solid in the faith. I would recommend seeking out a priest from the Fraternal Society of St. Peter. (FSSP)

If you do have a calling, then you will be happiest if you follow that calling. It doesn’t hurt to investigate. My grandpa went to the seminary, but left after about four years. Later on his son (my uncle) became a priest, and then a grandson (my brother) become a priest. If you have a calling, then you will find fulfillment as a priest.

If you are to become a priest, then you need to get your life into order. You need to become holy. Those addictions that you are struggling with can be defeated with fasting and prayer. Even if you do not become a priest, you still need to defeat those demons. Jesus said that if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. (I do NOT advise you to take this literally!) I think that the application to modern society would be: “If the internet causes you to sin, read a book.” Give up things. Fast from things that you desire and the Holy Spirit will grow more powerful in you. Pray the rosary daily and spend a lot of time in front of the blessed sacrament.

You don’t deserve to be a priest. No one does. But you might be called to be a priest. Some priests are holy all their lives. Some were headed in the wrong direction before they got straightened out. I would recommend that you check it out and see if the shoe fits. God bless.

I’m sure there is a need for priests who are dentists. The career choice comes first, then the vocation.

I’d stay on the path to dental school. Ask the intercession of St. Apollonia:


OP: I can’t help but emphasize to you how flimsy and thin the idea of asking people who don’t know you, and who you don’t know, for advice on serious matters.

We here in the Never Never Land of Internet Jawing can either be very serious or simply insane or just not give a care.

Based on the very little information (really) that you’ve give me, I can’t help but believe that the dentistry route is very much the right way to go.

Now you’ve got difficulties dealing with your parents. Perhaps that sympathetic dentist you know can better explain the possibilities.

I know when I was about your age, I was interested in becoming a college professor, which stupefied my father. He didn’t care for the idea----although in all the years growing up, he had never once discussed careers, jobs, work, with me! (this left me VERY weak in understanding this stuff). But I had dinner with my parents and my college advisor, who talked about being a professor.

It helped.

Become a dentist and a priest. Do both. Yes, do both of them. Look at the history of the Church. Many great scientists were priests. Any of the missionary orders would greet you with open arms. You will find the world open up to you as a medical practitioner and priest.
God bless you!

First- the one thing I waited to hear and didn’t hear was that of a burning desire in you to be a priest. Something that would indicate a true calling. I didn’t hear that, but perhaps it’s there and I just didn’t see it. Do you feel called to be a priest?

Second- your reasons for thinking you’re not good enough to be a priest…such as how can you listen to confession when you’ve done these other sins…well, as a recent convert to the RCC I personally would hope my priest might understand my human weaknesses so that he’s inclined to help me to not sin any more and to forgive me on God’s behalf. I guess I would be a little relieved to think he might not have been perfect, either. I don’t see that as an impediment, provided you desire to overcome these sins with God’s Grace.

I will be praying for God to give you the gift of discernment in this issue.

I am the original poster. I lost my email and password so I made a new one. Just thought I’d update my position. Got married and I have actually been accepted into multiple schools and will be leaving for Tennessee soon!

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