Discerning after graduation


#1

Hello all,

First, if people want to just skip to the main question, skip to the end, but I think most of this information is pretty relevant.

Background - I’ve posted before that I’m discerning entering seminary, but aside from the first few months, which were 2 1/2 years ago, I have had a very difficult time accepting that I might not be called to marriage and to have a family. I have never exactly acted as if I’m discerning seminary - that has become obvious to me as I spend a good amount of time with a girl. A few days ago we had this discussion about it - how she likes me and has had trouble battling with the fact that we spend so much time together but aren’t dating. We won’t be spending as much (alone) time during Lent, so that will hopefully help matters, but that whole situation has really left me wondering about me and my vocation.

With that background, now I’ll say that I’m graduating from college in 2 months with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, and I obviously still don’t feel ready to go off to seminary - I haven’t made any motion towards applying despite the fact I’m graduating. Now here’s where the question comes in. Over a month ago, a job opportunity opened up less than 2 hours from my original home in Kansas. It would be the perfect opportunity for someone like me - it is as an organist/sacred music assistant, with other duties in the parish as well. I applied, and it appears that I am going to be offered the job when I visit over Easter Break. My main question, then, is Do you think it would be wrong of me not to mention that I might be leaving after a year or two to go to seminary? He’s already waiting for me to graduate - he could have hired someone else, but is waiting for me. It seems to me he really wants me, and he also wants me to start a program in the parish in which I would teach lessons on piano, organ, violin, and possibly voice. It almost seems dishonest of me not to tell him that when he wants me to start up a program. If I started up the program when I got there in June or July, and left a year later, that just doesn’t seem right.

On one hand, the job seems like a good opportunity for me to further discern my vocation - I think the priest is good, and the job fits my personality/character, as far as I can tell. If I happen to discern that I am not called to seminary, then it would be a good gateway into other music director/organist jobs after a few years. Also, even if I did leave after a year or so, well, he probably knows that with hiring a recent college graduate, he runs the risk of him just leaving to go off and do something else.

On the other hand, this could just be me running away from seminary for another year or two, and I would be just “abandoning” whatever program I’d be able to develop at this parish after a few months, if I ended up leaving. While I feel pretty strongly I am not ready to go to seminary this Fall, I can see myself being ready in a year.

So again, here is the main question: Should I tell the priest, who appears to be almost ready to hire me, that I am discerning a call to seminary and that he might not want to hire me because of that (I might leave in a year or two)?

I know many of you will wonder or ask if I have a spiritual director, and the answer is no. That’s another one of those things I know I have to do eventually. I just hate the fact that I haven’t done it yet, but I’m terrible at knowing who to approach. Anyway, I just wanted to see some opinions from some people here. If you have other questions for me, the answers of which you think would help you answer my question, then feel free to ask.


#2

Congratulations on finding prospective employment so soon! It does seem like a good idea to share your vocation discernment with the parish priest. Why would he not want to help you along with this vocation discernment? It may be good for you to see the parish life in this music position and continue your prayerful inquiry to this way of life. May the Holy Spirit lead you along your way and the good Lord direct you to follow his will. Hope you are taking advantage of our Lenten Season towards your discerning goal of the life you wish to follow. Peace of the Lord be with you!


#3

Pray and trust in divine providence, God will lead you where he needs you. Congratulations on your job.


#4

From the outside, this looks like an excellent opportunity to grow in knowledge of certain priests and to let them grow in knowledge of you, all while putting a dent into your college debt (another thing I’m sure your diocese would appreciate). You’re not going to seminary immediately, so this looks like a step in the right direction and does not conflict at all with what might be your final goal. And heaven knows that we need some good priests with a knowledge of church music! (Please do not neglect Gregorian chant.)

I would recommend being forthright with the pastor about your intentions. Without doubt, he’ll make himself available to you and will advise you about which are the best steps to take. Were I a priest, I’d surely jump at the chance to mentor an aspirant, particularly one who happens to be in my employ. If you serve well, you’re sure to get an excellent letter of recommendation to the bishop. In the meantime, do your work well, and ask the pastor for advice regarding direction, retreats, and all those things that a discerner ought to do.

And don’t forget a novena of gratitude once you’re offered the job. God bless.


#5

Like others who have already replied, I agree that you should be open about your discernment when you speak with the priest. It’s important to remember however that there are no set time limits on discernment - you may feel ready to apply to the seminary in a year or it may be several more years. All things happen in God’s time not ours.


#6

Thank you all for your responses. I guess that theoretically, he would be happy to advise an aspirant to the priesthood, but all I can seem to think about, when I think about telling him, is that he might not want to hire me if he thinks I’ll leave soon.

In any case, you’re right though - I think he could potentially be a good priest for me to go to for advice. I haven’t met him in person yet, but from what I have gathered from our e-mail and phone correspondence, it seems he is a great person, and one of my good professors here knew him when he was a seminarian and speaks highly of him.

From the outside, this looks like an excellent opportunity to grow in knowledge of certain priests and to let them grow in knowledge of you, all while putting a dent into your college debt (another thing I’m sure your diocese would appreciate). You’re not going to seminary immediately, so this looks like a step in the right direction and does not conflict at all with what might be your final goal. And heaven knows that we need some good priests with a knowledge of church music! (Please do not neglect Gregorian chant.)

I would recommend being forthright with the pastor about your intentions. Without doubt, he’ll make himself available to you and will advise you about which are the best steps to take. Were I a priest, I’d surely jump at the chance to mentor an aspirant, particularly one who happens to be in my employ. If you serve well, you’re sure to get an excellent letter of recommendation to the bishop. In the meantime, do your work well, and ask the pastor for advice regarding direction, retreats, and all those things that a discerner ought to do.

And don’t forget a novena of gratitude once you’re offered the job. God bless.

Well, I don’t have college debt (a BIG thanks to my parents and my deceased grandmother who left behind a lot of money for her grandkids’ education), but I’ll be broke by the time this school year is over, which is why I really don’t want to risk not having a job soon after graduation. Oh, I would definitely not forget Gregorian chant. In fact, part of the job description said I could possibly start up a schola, which I would love to do. I have thought about the fact that it would be good for priests to have a better knowledge of church music. Also, I have thought about the fact that if I get to know this priest well, it could serve me well when/if I apply for seminary.

Regarding gratitude when/if I’m offered the job, well, I have thought a lot already in the past month how crazy it is that something like this job opened up for me - helps me be more sure that God is looking out for me, and knows what I need right now. As I mentioned before, this job fits me quite well - there aren’t many others, if any, that would fit my talents and personality better, so I do know that if I get the job, I will be so very thankful to God for leading me to the opportunity.

So I know I should probably tell him. I will probably tell him when I visit over Easter Break. In the meantime, I’ll try to muster up the courage to speak to a priest here at my school.

Again, thank you all for your thoughts - I really appreciate it!


#7

Remember, neither place is the “wrong” one. Neither is marriage the “wrong” vocation. However, I would say it does help to pursue one or the other with your whole heart.

In case you’re looking for a spiritual director close by, I would highly recommend an Opus Dei priest if one is in the area. They are very focused on helping you be a saint in whatever state of life you happen to be in.


#8

Before I began seriously discerning religious life I was on the verge of dating a friend of mine. But then someone told me that discerning a vocation involving celibacy is not much differentfom discerning marriage with a particular person. When we date, we date one person. We as Catholics do not seriously discern marriage with multiple people at the same time. Religious life and holy orders are similar. You cannot discern becoming a priest while dating. You have to choose which one you think is more likely to be God’s will (even if it is not your own will) and discern that with your whole heart.

Also, you cannot discern marriage with a particular woman by dating someone related to her. Similarly, you cannot seriously discern the priesthood by just being around priests or Catholic things. If you honestly believe God may be calling you to be a priest, that is enough to call up your vocations director or go on a one or two day vocations retreat in your area.

Yes it’s hard to give up the great good of family life, but if it is God’s will for you to be a priest then he will reward your sacrifice in ways you now couldnt possibly imagine. It is only natural to want a family, but as Catholics we must run towards Jesus Christ, and as his holy mother tells us we must do everything he tells us to do. We must always say yes to God and do the will of the Father, even if it means sacrifice. Beg God that his will alone may be done in your life, no matter what it is.


closed #9

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