Dismissed shoplifting charge and priesthood


Not getting into the specifics of the situation, earlier this year, I was charged with shoplifting. I completed a diversion program and the charges were dismissed without conviction. Now, I am hoping to go to Seminary this fall and am wondering if this will affect my chances of being accepted. I know the issues and concerns with a theft charge, but just wondering if anyone has any experience with something similar. My diocese of course will do a background check and the dismissed charge will come up. I know it probably depends on the diocese on how it would be handled, but just wondering in general if I still have a chance at being a priest. Thanks


I don’t think anyone here can answer your question. Talk with the vocation director for your diocese.

(You don’t actually mean you want to start in Fall 2018, do you? The application process takes more than a couple of months.)


It shouldn’t, as the entire point of a diversion program is to avoid this. However, there are more important things you need to deal with that strangers online can’t help with; speak to your diocesan vocations director.


I mean fall of 2019. I guess I just need to build up the courage to talk to him about this. I am embarrassed and ashamed of what happened, but realize that it is necessary to be completely transparent about it. I just worry about the stigma and judgement that may come along with me revealing what happened.


It can’t be easy to discuss, but it is the kind of thing you need to let them know about. And perhaps be able to add what you’ve learned from the experience and how you grew from it. Best wishes as you move forward in your discernment.


Yes, it would be much better if they found out from you, at an early stage, than from another source. If it appears you are trying to hide something it will probably count against you far more than if you were straightforward from the beginning and able to talk about how you have moved on your faith, life and experience


Don’t worry so much about your reputation. Everyone is a sinner.

What I think you need to clarify is whether there are any related mental illness issues. If you can’t stop stealing, or if you can’t stop thinking about stealing, get treatment for that, or you will never be happy.

You need to reach a point, if you are not there already, that you find stealing repugnant, unacceptable, even unthinkable because you understand in your heart that it harms other people and damages relationships among people. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. It is a direct violation of the commandment to love your neighbor.

When I was a teenager, I did a bit of shoplifting. Little stuff, like snacks when I was hungry, although I could have walked home and there was plenty to eat there. Now I can’t imagine how I could shoplift anything for any reason. My conscience grew. Yours can too.


Thank you so much for your responses. I am seeing a therapist for the issues underlying what happened. Everything you said makes so much sense. Thank you. It puts what I truly believe about what happened into words that align with my true values and self.


“Typically” a diversion program ends the criminal case, but does not seal either the arrest or the court case. How they work varies widely by jurisdiction. However, most will require a separate action after a period of years to actually seal.



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