Eligibility for Holy Orders

I am a fairly recent convert to Catholicism, having been an Episcopalian for most of my life. As a layperson, I had many opportunities to serve at the altar as a sub deacon, acolyte, etc. and felt a deep, compelling, connection to the Eucharist, which is what eventually led me to becoming a Catholic.

I am 62 years old, divorced, but not remarried. I have long felt a call to the Priesthood, first in the Episcopal Church, but now certainly in the Roman Catholic Church. I understand that most diocese have maximum ages for candidates, but I also understand that some religious orders may have different rules. I have begun the process of seeking an annulment.

I sincerely feel a calling to serve in the Church. Is there any possibility?

I do not know much about eligibility regarding priesthood, but if you are 62 years old, (and since the preparation for the priesthood takes quite a while) I see it quite hard for it to happen. But maybe someone else can address the question in a different way. As you stated some religious orders may allow that to happen but i don’t have any in mind. Also your marriage divorce would need to get fixed (annulled)

You will have to write to your bishop. You see, usually, it takes a little bit of time (5 to 7 years if I’m not mistaken, which I could be) to study to be ordained, THOUGH, sometimes men can be taken in on a case-by-case basis. Also meet with a spiritual director, someone to determine if you have a vocation or not.

If you have a vocation, fear not, God will make sure that you are His priest.

Unless you have a college degree in philosophy and theology, you must go to Seminary for eight to nine years. All in all, if you have a degree in philosophy and theology, plus four years of Seminary, it adds up to the same amount of time. It takes almost a decade to do, and this is something that the Church does not intend to change.

I have known of men in their 60’s being ordained to the priesthood. You may have to look around for a diocese or religious community who will accept you, but please pursue it if you feel this is genuine. Get a spiritual director, and trust in God. If what you are experiencing is a genuine call to the priesthood, the doors will open for you.

You are correct, without a bachelors degree one would attend a minor seminary to get that in philosophy because entry into the major seminary requires 30 credits of philosophy. Then one would attend the major seminary for 4 years to get the masters of divinity. There could be a pastoral year in there also.

If you have a bachelors degree then you could get the philosophy requirement done in 2 years.

I know of a retired man who did all of this in his 60’s but when he did this the philosophy requirements were lower.

Ahh, so yes, 10 years at a maximum I’d say. Though, it may vary from country to country, when, here, you can’t get a degree in College, only a diploma. You can only get degrees in University (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), unlike in the US. So, if the OP lives in Canada or the UK par example, it might take even longer!

Yes it is something the Church does not intend to change, and never should be it be changed. I’d say with the rate things are going, the minor orders will be restored to full use :D!

First of all welcome!

One thing you might do is to contact the coming home network

( chnetwork.org/*) Marcus Grodi has created a ministry for Catholic Converts and has as part of his ministry gathered much information for cases just like yours.

While 62 may be in the upper ranges it never hurts to inquire regarding vocations. There are different rules for different communities, or dioceses. You might also contact Bro JR on these forums as he has a great deal of useful information at hand and may also provide you with some practical advice.( You may also have a small waiting period depending on how long you have been a Catholic but by all means why not start asking questions now?
As an older vocation myself… (As long as your spiritual director believes you are called ) I would say don’t be afraid to knock on more than a few doors…


Sr Debbie, O.S.C.

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