Can my son be both a priest and a medical doctor?

I have a 15-year-old son who is gifted with an interest in the priesthood but also abilities and an interest in becoming a medical doctor. He has told me that he thinks healing the body and the soul is the best of both worlds. He is an exceptional student, well-focused and mature for a boy his age. But he still likes to have fun! For various reasons, my wife and I have doubts that he would do well as a diocesan priest, but if there is a religious order of priests who also serve as medical doctors, it might be the best choice. Does anyone know of a good route to take in exploring such a vocation?

While there are priests who are also medical doctors – I have heard of a Dominican priest who is also a psychiatrist – those generally are rare exceptions. Ordinarily, the Church prefers that a man who is to be given holy orders devote his whole life to the priesthood because the priesthood is not a career but a calling to configure one’s life entirely to Christ and his sacrificial priesthood.

If your son is interested in being a priest, he should investigate the priesthood. If he is interested in being a doctor, he should go to medical school. It should also be said that the job of a doctor is so demanding that a person called to be a doctor may also have a vocation to the single life or to life as a consecrated religious (for a man, a lay brother). The Order of St. Camillus (the Servants of the Sick) is a religious order for men dedicated to the care of the ill. The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order) also has affiliated lay brothers.

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