I am discerning a call to the priesthood. I currently live in France where I’m working as an English teacher until April. I’m involved in Catholic chaplaincy groups and I live in a Catholic residence here. My spiritual director is the senior priest of our diocese here in the north of France. Basically, I’ve gained a lot of information on the church here in France.
I feel compelled to stay here and help with the severe priest shortage here. France is becoming more secular and I frequently am the youngest person at daily mass. I realize we have a shortage everywhere, but seeing it in France, a former bastion of the faith, makes me feel like God might be calling me to stay here. I was told that less than 100 people were ordained in the entire country last year, and the average age of a priest in France is about 75.
I am an American, not a French citizen. There’s a visa category here for seminarians and religious workers, but I don’t know if there’d be any issues that would impair me. Any ideas?
Other than perhaps not knowing the culture, I doubt it. I would imagine it would be as simple as contacting the Vocations Director actually (we have 5 Nigerians and a Philippine in our diocesan seminary, so it can’t be too terribly hard) Nice to know that there’s a visa category though.
You could always join the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians), who (ironically enough) were originally created to work with the poor in France’s countryside. They are global.
You’d need to choose a diocese or order, then apply. Once you’re accepted, you’ll be assigned to a seminary. Typically, a student visa is obtained using the seminary as the ‘university’ that you are awarded residence to study at.
Particular details largely vary depending on individual dioceses and orders. You’d need to talk with the Vocations Director of wherever you’re applying to know for sure.
Language and culture are some of the hardest obstacles, but I don´t think you are the only foreigner trying to do this.
Sometimes, it’s nice to get support from other Americans, in some cases, with reference to understanding culture, resources…WIC, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill, SCHIP, Catholic Social Services, food banks, HEAP, etc.
Well, in the US, I had a social work degree. I knew what resources to refer people to, there. In Mexico, there was an entire new set of resources…DIF, Seguro Popular, CREE, etc.
I don´t know how much priests get into referrals, though.
If I were going into the priesthood in a foreign country, I’d work hard trying to bone up on my language skills AND want to learn as much as I could about that country, its customs and traditions. I think I’d also try to research at least a few of the most common social programs people are referred to, there.
There was one book, “Ethnicity and Family Therapy”, for instance, which talked about the impact of culture on relationships. I found it MOST helpful in understanding Latin culture, not to say I’m an expert even now.