Daughters boyfriend thinks he wants to be a priest

Hi everyone,
My daughter has been dating a wonderful young man for 8 months now. They have discussed marriage and she has met his family. He was in a seminary for almost 4 years in another country and it was a horrible experience. However he says he has felt he was supposed to be a priest since high school. Now he thinks that if he enters a seminary in the US it will be different. Needless to say my daughter is a complete mess and so is this young man. He says he loves her and wants to marry her but is afraid he will be miserable because he will always wonder if he was supposed to be a priest…but will be miserable as a priest because he will lose her. He can’t even look at her without crying now and doesn’t want her to leave his side for one minute(it’s always been this way). The crying just started but all along he hasn’t wanted to be alone or without her which raised red flags but I thought they were just in love. My daughter wants to stand by him no matter what and be supportive and strong for him but I am concerned for her. She will be leaving for a 3 week retreat in another country at the end of this month so he is freaking out over that. Plus he has to move by July 1 and has limited income as he works for a Catholic non profit. When my daughter told me all of this this weekend I thought it was the circumstances bringing it on and he was just falling back on the seminary because he didn’t know what to do. He doesn’t strike me as that sort of person though. I’m sort of shocked this is an issue now as he had such a bad experience. He’s been out of the seminary for almost a year and a half now. I want to support them both but am concerned about my daughter. We love this young man and think of him as a son so this is heartbreaking all round. Does anyone have any thoughts or has been through something like this? Thanks in advance and God bless.

Just to pray for both of them, that God’s will be done; and that they may both have peace in their hearts.

considering he is not your son, your only real focus is on your daughter, the boyfriend is left to discern his path with his vocations director whom he should be in contact with and his own relatives and or family on the matter. There is no possible way he can take your duaghter with him into the seminary and or become a priest, his only other option would be to become a deacon, after he has married your daughter and or remove himself from the RCC and join one of the other Catholic Churches in the other rites that allow for men to be married and become ordained.

personally I think it would be easier to just focus on how to advise your daughter rather than worrying about extended family and just pray for the young man at best.

Well he won’t talk to anyone. He says he’s been through the discernment process already. I’m worried about my daughter because he’s been breaking down in public and she is getting worn out talking him off the ledge. He refuses to get help and goes back and forth talking about not making plans for the summer bec he might leave and then talking about when they are married. I think he’s having a breakdown . We aren’t close to his family so are reluctant to call them. They live in another state . I still think this is anxiety over his uncertain living situation and he is running to the seminary to hide. My daughter is trying to hang in there until she leaves for her retreat because she wants to see him through this.

In his current state, no Catholic seminary on earth would take him. He does seem to have serious issues.

It seems to me that your daughter’s upcoming retreat will, by necessity, help him towards evaluating what it is that he wants. The time apart will do both of them good.

One way or another he needs to stop messing your daughter around and choose a path!

Two things:

First canon law says you have to wait at least 2yrs before reentering the seminary after leaving it, so he has time yet.

Second, and more importantly it sounds like he is still deep in the middle of his discernment process and should take more time to think about this rather than jump into seminary now. I remember in my discernment the question I asked myself was, am I running towards priesthood(and in his case marriage as well) or away from something else instead. He needs to answer that question for himself before he does anything else. P.S. it sounds like there is quite a level of emotional dependency on his part, which he should also address before he marries or becomes a priest. Neither vocation should be chosen because its the safe, familar option.

I will pray for you all

Thank you so much. This has been so helpful. As for the waiting period he was told one year. A seminary in Detroit has already said they would take him but he had to wait a year. It’s been a year this past January. While my daughter is gone he is going to be forced to make a decision as his lease is up end of June. Of course he can always sublet but I think the timing of this sudden discernment has to do with the instability re his living situation.

PS. My daughter is so confused her head is spinning. He refuses to talk to someone. I am reluctant to talk to him myself for obvious reasons but my daughter doesn’t know what to do.

He could become a priest in the Eastern Rite. He wouldn’t be celebrating the Latin Rite, but he would be a priest within the Catholic Church and would be able to marry her.

The not wanting to leave your daughter’s side for a moment would be a huge red flag to me.

I think the bottom line is, he needs to talk to someone – and someone other than your daughter. I think you are wise to recognize that it shouldn’t be you either.

If he at all thinks he is called to the priesthood, he needs to be talking to a vocations director. At this point, talking to any priest would be a good idea. He says he already did the discernment thing, but it is quite obviously an unfinished process for him. If it were finished, he would not be having these doubts. The priestly vocation isn’t something that is discerned individually. It is something a man feels and the Church confirms. He cannot leave a representative of the Church out of the equation. It will not work.

He owes it to himself and to your daughter to get the counsel of a good priest – preferably on an ongoing basis. If he doesn’t want to go through life wondering if the other vocation was where he’d be happiest, he needs to get it all sorted out and he needs to start now.

He cannot sort this through solely with your daughter because she is part of the equation. There’s no way for her to be objective. Even if there were, he would always wonder if she was just saying it because of their relationship.

My opinion is that your daughter needs to call him to seek counsel and to insist upon it for both their sakes. She has a great opportunity to sort through things on her upcoming retreat. He needs an opportunity as well. That time apart will be good for both of them.

:rolleyes: One would hope that a vocations director or formation faculty in the particular Eastern Rite church would see that the man isn’t interested in being part of that church, but rather, only wishes to marry and be ordained.

Do you think my daughter should not be seeing him until he figures it out? Or is she now a part of the process? He says things like if he becomes a priest hell be miserable without her and if he marries her he’ll be miserable because he will never be sure if he should have become a priest. Yet he refuses to talk to anyone. I was going to suggest to my daughter that they both go to our pastor together to talk about all of this. He’s the superior of an order he started at our church over a decade ago so he would be very familiar with something like this. I don’t know how objective he would be as he’s known my daughter since she was 7 years old but I know he is very wise. Why won’t this young man talk to someone? I think he just doesn’t want them to tell him he doesn’t have a vocation and so every couple of months he indulges himself in hid ‘dream’? And I know it is an agonizing decision but is it normal to breakdown in public like this?

I also thought that while in the discernment process one is not allowed to date. Has this changed?

I think you should encourage the boyfriend to seek guidance. It sounds like he is deeply disturbed which could also put your daughter in danger especially with this extra clinginess. I strongly suggest that you speak with your local parish priest about this guy because my red flags are very up. Your focus is on your daughter but considering how mental unstable he is becoming, it can’t hurt to reach out to him through some sort of male figure such as your husband, someone from your church and more. If he really gets bad, you can always call his family. They might know why his first attempt at seminary did not work and could be a good resource during this difficult time.

I can only try. My daughter is an adult. I will definitely speak to a priest and encourage my daughter to try to get him to go with her to the pastor. We honestly thought he was past this considering how much he hated the seminary. I know that when he got back here he had these breakdowns. A friend of his told my daughter they were relieved to see him so happy now. I have no idea what has triggered this. I am sure it is the stress of his unstable financial and living situation.

Although I’m not a Catholic, my gut tells me this much:

  1. you need to learn why he “hated” attending seminary… (why on earth would he return?)

  2. you - and he… and your daughter! - must understand that people who have real, true, depth-of-love callings/vocations are not running FROM something (i.e., his unstable financial and living situation), but TO something – devotion and service to their beloved Creator…

  3. the young man’s behavior is inappropriate and unstable.

I also know through research that many (if not all) orders of nuns require that before you join them, you must be financially stable. Not rich… not poor… just stable. You must be debt free in order to walk away from the mundane life into a spiritual life. I wonder, is it the same for priests?

He hated the country he was in. He missed his family. As for the crying it seems to be a family trait and quite honestly I think he’s missing my daughter before she’s even left. They’ve been glued together since they met. He does have considerable debt. That’s why I know he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s a very emotional person very sensitive and has been straightforward all along about the priesthood. It’s just that he has also as of Jan tabled it. That’s why I’m pretty sure this I’d due to his living situation being up in the air and my daughter leaving foe 3 weeks. Does anyone know if the rule still stands re being debt free?

He’d have to check with the vocations director. Diocesan priests don’t take a vow of poverty and receive a stipend, so it would seem more possible that they could still have some debt. But I don’t know for sure.

Well, if this is how he reacts to stress, then maybe your daughter should think about whether she wants to marry a man who is not exactly stable. Life can be very stressful, as many of us know, and one has to be strong and deal with things. It sounds like this guy is not exactly dealing with things. He left the seminary because he hated the country? I can’t imagine quitting something that was so important to me after 4 years because I don’t like the country I’m in for the time being. I simply can’t believe this and wonder if he is a) telling the truth about the seminary and his reasons for leaving, or b) perhaps he doesn’t have a vocation to the priesthood and all of this is just a big panic attack. What a drama. I don’t know how old he is but it all sounds **very **immature to me.

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