I have read many of the previous posts about people with mental illness and vocations. Does anyone know of anyone, (religious brother sister, priest, deacon,) who has been able to handle their illness and a vocation?
Can someone with a well controlled mental illness such as Schizoaffective disorder apply to seminary to eventually become a priest?
Apply – certainly.
Be accepted – probably not.
(Not knowledgeable, but that would be my guess.)
It might be remotely possible, but remember a priest needs to be pretty well balanced and steady himself because the priesthood isn’t easy or a walk in the park. I think you may have a shot at an enclosed, protected religious life as a brother or a monk…for the right reasons, of course. It doesn’t hurt to look around at various religious communities…and be up front with them about your health. I will pray for you.
It’s tougher than ever these days to become a priest. The Church is getting more and more strict on ordaining those with any sort of mental disorder, you can of course try and have an honest discussion during the interview process, but don’t take it personally if you are not accepted. Maybe you could inquire about the permanent deaconate?
If anything, living in an enclosed religious community is harder than the external life of a diocesan priest - being a cloistered contemplative such as a Carmelite or Carthusian is definitely not for those seeking an easy life. religious life does however offer more flexibility in terms of what you do than diocesan priesthood
As far as the OP’s questions goes, I’d say it really depends on what you mean by “well controlled”. Most dioceses require candidates to undergo a psychological assessment and so the decision would turn to a large extent on what the psychologist conducting the assessment thought.
Indeed, most religious communities and diocesan bishops require a psychological evaluation fairly early in the process.
Supposing you “passed” that, there is still a very long process of living with others in community under some form of temporary vows where any obvious signs/symptoms of your disorder would most likely become apparent and observed by others.
It would then be up to the leaders of the religious community, or bishop in the case of diocesan seminary candidates, to make a determination if this is something that can be allowable or not in the vocation.
So, becoming a religious or diocesan priest is a long process where at any point either side can say “I dont think this is working out”. Only after profession of final vows or ordination does there become a stable committment and acceptance of the vocational call.
For the person that wrote, “probably not.”
Are you a vocations director or priest?
Do you understand what well controlled means?
I’ve got the only “probably” in the thread, so I assume you’re talking about me.
The answer to your first question is contained in my post.
The answer to your second question is that my understanding of “well controlled” in this context is that one’s symptoms are suppressed by one’s medication and will continue to be suppressed, even to the point of not being noticeable by others, as long as one is taking the prescribed medications.
If you tried to apply to a diocesan seminary, you would have a hard time, for the reasons that others have outlined.
If you were to apply to a religious order near you, you might have a better chance. In this context, you might be able for them to get to know you personally. There may be a chance to be interviewed several times, to go for retreats, etc., and get the community to know you.* Then* when they start to discuss religious life with you, you could say that you are very interested, but have this impediment. In this way, they will see that you are “well controlled”, and not have to reply on your statement about it. You will certainly be under close observation during the formative years, but everyone is. You will also have to have the opportunity to see your psychiatrist and other mental health care providers on a regular basis.