Considering Priesthood...Having Doubts (Explained in thread)


#1

Hello everyone,
I don’t often post on here, but I felt I needed opinions and thoughts or anything I can get. Sorry for the long message, here is the place to stop reading if you don’t like reading lengthy posts.

Basically – for the past few months now I’ve been thinking about becoming a priest (more seriously than before). I am currently a first year undergraduate, studying Bioengineering. I’ve talked to a priest in my parish when I was home for a weekend and he just advised me to pray and to wait – since I am only at the beginning of my “discernment” and it will take a significant amount of time to be (more) sure or at least to have a better idea.

On one hand, I am - like never before - interested in Catholicism. I like reading books about it (which previously I found exceedingly boring, but now I find interesting), I have been more interested in philosophy and theology (which I have begun to study more on my own time), I found out that I really like listening to people and their problems and giving advice to them, and finally I learned that I am better at speaking in front of many people than I previously thought.

However, my thinking on becoming a priest has been on and off, largely because I feel held back by several things and have doubts:

  1. I am an engineer – a bioengineer at that – that’s what many in my family have been - engineers and that’s what I was meant to be.
  2. It would be a waste of four or more years to study bioengineering since that’s not something I’d ever need as a priest.
  3. I have always normally been more of an introvert – while I can easily give the excuse that as an engineering major I always have a lot to study, more than most other people, as well as more work to do, I have to stay in my room a lot longer. This is true, but I also feel even if I didn’t have an engineering major I would probably feel a bit more comfortable being on my own. I mean, I don’t mind at all talking to people and meeting new people but just I don’t really look to do that normally when I’m on my own, often preferring to be in my room here in college. The problem with this is that priests are supposed to be more sociable and wanting to be around people all the time - or so that’s how it seems.
  4. Also, many people know since the time they are fairly young that they want to be a priest – it’s more common; at least I hear often of a priest that “wanted to be a priest ever since he was little/a kid/a child, etc” and so I get the impression that it is less common and maybe not as good as an idea for someone like me who just started thinking about it right now in college.
  5. And then sometimes I keep telling myself I just made a mistake – that this really is just a weird phase that I’ll get out of. Yet it’s been months and I still keep thinking about it – which I find confusing.

And just in general though, always feel conflicting thoughts, where on one end I feel like maybe this is just all a mistake to even have started thinking about this while on the other maybe I’m ignoring the beginning of what may be a potential call to the priesthood. I really just don’t know now; as of now, I still am open to the idea that I may be a priest, but also am fully prepared to accept that the priesthood may not be for me.

However, I do feel like I’ve been given everything and more than I ever could have needed and asked for in my life – and so I feel like I want to give back now, to help others in any way I can especially (this of course, can be done in many ways, not just as a priest).

I mean don’t get me wrong, I am deeply faithful – I am so glad that I am Catholic; but it’s been confusing or weird ever since I started considering becoming a priest. I feel that if only I could be sure that God is calling me, then I wouldn’t hesitate to go into the seminary, but right now I’m not sure of anything at all. And yet, I’m still thinking about it and have not forgotten the possibility, as I thought would’ve likely done so by now.

Is there any advice anyone can give me? Is it even viable that I can become a priest, even with all these doubts I have right now? Or does this more closely mean maybe I just made a mistake in what I’ve been thinking the past few months and maybe I was not meant for the priesthood at all?

Well, my plan now is simple: wait, explore, remain open to all possibilities, and pray especially, that I may be enlightened as to my path. Thanks for any comments/thoughts I can get.


#2

Doubts are what make us human - if anything, it'd be more of a concern if you didn't have doubts, especially at the beginning of your discernment. I think the easiest way to reply is to address each of your questions in turn:

  1. I am an engineer – a bioengineer at that – that’s what many in my family have been - engineers and that’s what I was meant to be.

I'm not sure what you mean by "meant to be" - just because it's the family business so to speak, and / or it's what others want you to do, doesn't mean that it's the right choice for you.

  1. It would be a waste of four or more years to study bioengineering since that’s not something I’d ever need as a priest.

No skills / learning is ever wasted. In my (diocesan) seminary, previous walks of life amongst the student body include: 2 accountants, a teacher, a lawyer, a farm hand, and an electrical engineer. If you really wanted to pursue bioengineering and priesthood, you could consider a religious order (particularly the Jesuits).

  1. I have always normally been more of an introvert – while I can easily give the excuse that as an engineering major I always have a lot to study, more than most other people, as well as more work to do, I have to stay in my room a lot longer. This is true, but I also feel even if I didn’t have an engineering major I would probably feel a bit more comfortable being on my own. I mean, I don’t mind at all talking to people and meeting new people but just I don’t really look to do that normally when I'm on my own, often preferring to be in my room here in college. The problem with this is that priests are supposed to be more sociable and wanting to be around people all the time - or so that's how it seems.

Not all priests are extroverts nor are they expected to be. Priests obviously need social skills but for many it's not so much a case of wanting to be around people but struggling to find some time to themselves!

  1. Also, many people know since the time they are fairly young that they want to be a priest – it’s more common; at least I hear often of a priest that “wanted to be a priest ever since he was little/a kid/a child, etc” and so I get the impression that it is less common and maybe not as good as an idea for someone like me who just started thinking about it right now in college.

People experience their calling at different times in their lives. sure there are some who have wanted to be a priest ever since they were young, while others only experience it for the first time later in life. For what it's worth, I first started thinking seriously about it when I was about 20.

  1. And then sometimes I keep telling myself I just made a mistake – that this really is just a weird phase that I’ll get out of. Yet it’s been months and I still keep thinking about it – which I find confusing.

Hmmm... If anything I'd say that's about normal! Granted it's early days yet and maybe as you journey you'll find that priesthood isn't what you called to, but then again... I'd also note that a recurring feeling of being called is a sign of a possible vocation and a good way to test your vocation - if the idea doesn't go away (even when you just try and get on with life as usual) then there may well be a reason for that!

And just in general though, always feel conflicting thoughts, where on one end I feel like maybe this is just all a mistake to even have started thinking about this while on the other maybe I’m ignoring the beginning of what may be a potential call to the priesthood. I really just don’t know now; as of now, I still am open to the idea that I may be a priest, but also am fully prepared to accept that the priesthood may not be for me.

Sounds all good to me! Again, conflicting thoughts are all part of the discernment process and continue even after entering into a seminary. It's good that you're open to exploring a possible call to priesthood as well as alternatives. Finally a few "to do's for the way forward:

  • if you don't already have one get a spiritual director: a priest you can meet with regularly to discuss your spiritual life,
  • pray. Contemplative prayer, in particular, is immensely valuable.
  • talk to your diocesan vocations director (if you haven't done so already)

#3

[quote="Destiny93, post:1, topic:324774"]
Hello everyone,
I don’t often post on here, but I felt I needed opinions and thoughts or anything I can get. Sorry for the long message, here is the place to stop reading if you don’t like reading lengthy posts.

Basically – for the past few months now I’ve been thinking about becoming a priest (more seriously than before). I am currently a first year undergraduate, studying Bioengineering. I’ve talked to a priest in my parish when I was home for a weekend and he just advised me to pray and to wait – since I am only at the beginning of my “discernment” and it will take a significant amount of time to be (more) sure or at least to have a better idea.

On one hand, I am - like never before - interested in Catholicism. I like reading books about it (which previously I found exceedingly boring, but now I find interesting), I have been more interested in philosophy and theology (which I have begun to study more on my own time), I found out that I really like listening to people and their problems and giving advice to them, and finally I learned that I am better at speaking in front of many people than I previously thought.

However, my thinking on becoming a priest has been on and off, largely because I feel held back by several things and have doubts:
1. I am an engineer – a bioengineer at that – that’s what many in my family have been - engineers and that’s what I was meant to be.
2. It would be a waste of four or more years to study bioengineering since that’s not something I’d ever need as a priest.
3. I have always normally been more of an introvert – while I can easily give the excuse that as an engineering major I always have a lot to study, more than most other people, as well as more work to do, I have to stay in my room a lot longer. This is true, but I also feel even if I didn’t have an engineering major I would probably feel a bit more comfortable being on my own. I mean, I don’t mind at all talking to people and meeting new people but just I don’t really look to do that normally when I'm on my own, often preferring to be in my room here in college. The problem with this is that priests are supposed to be more sociable and wanting to be around people all the time - or so that's how it seems.
4. Also, many people know since the time they are fairly young that they want to be a priest – it’s more common; at least I hear often of a priest that “wanted to be a priest ever since he was little/a kid/a child, etc” and so I get the impression that it is less common and maybe not as good as an idea for someone like me who just started thinking about it right now in college.
5. And then sometimes I keep telling myself I just made a mistake – that this really is just a weird phase that I’ll get out of. Yet it’s been months and I still keep thinking about it – which I find confusing.

And just in general though, always feel conflicting thoughts, where on one end I feel like maybe this is just all a mistake to even have started thinking about this while on the other maybe I’m ignoring the beginning of what may be a potential call to the priesthood. I really just don’t know now; as of now, I still am open to the idea that I may be a priest, but also am fully prepared to accept that the priesthood may not be for me.

However, I do feel like I’ve been given everything and more than I ever could have needed and asked for in my life – and so I feel like I want to give back now, to help others in any way I can especially (this of course, can be done in many ways, not just as a priest).

I mean don’t get me wrong, I am deeply faithful – I am so glad that I am Catholic; but it’s been confusing or weird ever since I started considering becoming a priest. I feel that if only I could be sure that God is calling me, then I wouldn’t hesitate to go into the seminary, but right now I’m not sure of anything at all. And yet, I’m still thinking about it and have not forgotten the possibility, as I thought would’ve likely done so by now.

Is there any advice anyone can give me? Is it even viable that I can become a priest, even with all these doubts I have right now? Or does this more closely mean maybe I just made a mistake in what I’ve been thinking the past few months and maybe I was not meant for the priesthood at all?

Well, my plan now is simple: wait, explore, remain open to all possibilities, and pray especially, that I may be enlightened as to my path. Thanks for any comments/thoughts I can get.

[/quote]

I can certainly empathize with you; I am currently discerning priesthood. I'd like to tell you something that a very good friend of mine told me when I expressed fear and confusion about the possibility of becoming a priest:

"God does not call the prepared. He prepares the called."

If you have a vocation to priesthood, then He will not only give you the spiritual an emotional tools to break away from your previous expectations about your life, but He will also likely see to it that you use your specific gifts as an engineer as a priesthood.

God bless you.


#4

Continue discerning. Society needs engineers but it needs priests far more. Talk to various priests and your diocese' vocations director.


#5

Is there a University Catholic Chaplaincy or Newman Centre? The Chaplains at universities tend to be very good at giving spiritual direction, and helping young people through these discernment journies. That is a major part of their specific calling.

Go see your university chaplain.


#6

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