Financial problem



The good news: I’ve been accepted to study at a seminary come September. The Lord has blessed me greatly.

The bad news: I have $21,250 in student debt. Frankly, I’m dirt poor so I had to use loans to pay for college. It wasn’t until the summer between my Junior and senior year that I actively pursued my vocation, so in terms of reducing cost it was already too late to withdraw as I was so near graduation. I have been blessed with minimum wage work and will have saved up $8000 by the end of August, thus reducing my debt to $13,250. I was going to work with Mater Ecclesiae Fund but they cannot accept you with such massive debt. A priest even said it would be pointless for me to try. The Laboure Society is undergoing a restructuring so they too cannot help me.

What I’m doing is a letter campaign. I’ll start that next week. I am going to place a notice in my parish bulletin to appeal but I’m not expecting much because we’re working on buying $250,000 repairs to the church front. I am working with the local Knights of Columbus too. These are all good things, but realistically I can’t expect to get $13k.

I will be barred from entering seminary with any debt. Though poor, Im a hard worker and at one point had three jobs. I’ve never expected the system to tend to me. I don’t grudge poverty either but its not easy. I want so much to live and die for the church. Being accepted in seminary is a huge step and an indication of Gods will, IMHO. But I feel burdened and hapless.

Does anyone have any suggestions or should I resign myself to the fate of my economic condition, passing life away as another statistic in the cycle of cumulative disadvantage as sociologists call it.

Thank you humbly.


Is there a K of C or a Serra Club or other Catholic fraternal club around you? They may want to help you.

Do you have a blog? If you don’t, start one, talk about your vocation and keep it up, and put a lot of tags on it so it will be mentioned on other blogs, and put a PayPal link to it for donations. Many Catholic causes and religious orders have this now.

It won’t help you now, but it is sad to hear of so much debt inhibiting vocations. I think that dioceses should really concentrate on eliminating this roadblock if they want priests.
Similarly, if anyone is even remotely thinking about a religious vocation, one of the first things to do is to control college costs. Better to stay at home and attend the local state school than invest in a private $$ Catholic education and then be prevented from even considering entering a seminary or religious house. There are a lot of sad stories here and on phatmass about young grads being prevented from considering a religious or priestly vocation due to overwhelming college debt.


Thank you for your reply. As I said in my original post, I am working with the Knights. But what is a Serra Club? I am not familiar with this.

Thanks for the blog idea. I didn’t think of this.


I have a $13k debt too, I am putting off religious life until I can pay it off via my current job, which may take a couple of years for sure! The way I see it, it is God’s plan for youwhich gives me extra time to discern and grow in my faith before going into religious life. Isn’t it possible for you to do the same? Maybe don’t go this September, but keep on working at your minimum wage job, try to find as much extra income as you can, and when you are ready to go perhaps you can be accepted again? I’m not sure how seminary works to be honest…is it possible to just apply a different year?

You already have $8000 saved up! $13k is NOTHING compared to some of the crushing student debts out there, which are tough on everyone, discerning or not! I saw a woman raising money to be a Sister who had a student debt of over $100k! (Law school… :stuck_out_tongue: ). Maybe she won’t get to be a Sister until her 30s or 40s but if her calling is genuine I know she will see it through to the end. And so will you. The way you talk about “passing life away” is like you will die or something if you don’t go right away…

Worse comes to worse, I know the Army gives out scholarships, if you agree to serve with them as a chaplain afterward… :stuck_out_tongue: Talk about that with your seminary?

You will be in my prayers!


Thank you for your encouragement and perspective. I should check if I can defer entrance.


What! An incoming seminarian cannot have any debt? If that is the case, then the Archdiocese of Chicago must not be in need of any new priests and is getting ready to close Mundelein. I am sure that not every man who enters the seminary is either independently wealthy or beyond the age of 30.


[quote="Aizi, post:4, topic:243377"]
Worse comes to worse, I know the Army gives out scholarships, if you agree to serve with them as a chaplain afterward... :P Talk about that with your seminary?


That is an excellent idea! While if you are willing to go through that route, you should discuss it with your diocese's vocational director as soon as possible, here is the vocations website for the Military Archdiocese ( Remember that no chaplains are incardinated into the military see; you must be sponsored by a resident diocese.


Thank you for the link. But alas the military is a no-go because of a communicative disorder I have.


Did your vocations director say that that amount of debt precludes you from going to the seminary? In my Diocese, that is definitely not the case as most of the seminarians are right out of college.

Be sure you have discussed this thoroughly with him as you should be able to defer payment until after the seminary. Assuming you’re going to be a secular priest, $13,000 should definitely not be an overwhelming amount to pay back once you have a salary.

Honestly, you shouldn’t have been accepted to the seminary without having been approved by your Diocese. Questions about debt should have been covered during that application period.


Also, in my understanding of the Mater Ecclesia and other funds, they don’t pay off your debt in a lump sum but rather make your monthly payments until your debt is paid off. Again, you will be able to defer your payments until after you complete seminary as you will again be a full-time student.


You are welcome. As for your disorder, you could apply for a medical waiver. Though there is obviously no promise that you would receive a waiver, you may very well obtain one.


Are you called to an order or to a diocese? I visited Sacred Heart (second career vocations) and there are a few with debt. I have debt. I lost my shirt with a business and ran up all my credit cards trying anything to keep afloat. They are all charge offs now my credit stinks and I have judgements out the ying yang, Told that to my Vocations director and he told me " it's something we need to talk about but not at all a deal breaker" I don't know the statistics of who is called and at what age. I do know that from what I am reading hearing etc that the second career vocations are strong. And many second career vocations are huge success stories and a lot of us have debt ,houses that need to be sold or kept toys like boats RVs all kinds of things. And like myself bad credit decisions and so my point is, not many vocations are picture perfect. If you are trying for priesthood in a diocese they will work with you much more than a religous order from what I have experienced. .

You are most likely young and if that is the case waiting till it is paid off may not be the end of the world. I have been discerning for almost 6 years being told I am not educated enough too old (40?? yeah right nice try) and I am thinking if I ran into Jeff City and Sacred Heart 5 years ago I would be in my last year!!! However it is God's will and his desire of when you will get the yes,for me it has been 5 years and I still may be rejected.

My point is, that I understand rejection and all that goes with it. But there is always hope. I don't think you will be unsuccessful at all. Getting accepted is the hard part from my experience. I am sure there is a solution.
You are in my prayers. God Bless Scoob.


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