Going to go visit a semenary this weekend

Good evening, everyone.

Just need to vent a little bit, so please excuse me when I say:

Well, my priest has finally talked me into going to visit a seminary this weekend. I’m really not sure what to expect. I’ve tried to talk to a couple of my close friends about it, but they’re all a bit squeamish about anything to do with the topic of priesthood. They’ll gladly come to me with all their questions about the Catholic Church and will discuss/debate doctrines for hours…they must be under some impression that I know more than them, I suppose. But, mention anything having to do with commitment, and they back out of the conversation. I guess we could mark that one up as a “man thing” for the guys my age. Its been no real big secret that I’m considering this path to people that have known me since childhood, but I don’t think anyone expects me to do it. I’ve had conversations with my parents off and on, but I don’t believe they think I’m serious about it either. At any rate, I’m constantly being told by people in my parish that I would make a good priest. It probably comes from the fact that I’m literally the only young man that volunteers at my parish (small town in NE of only about 300 people). I’m one of two male lectors at my parish and the other one is leaving for college, the rest are women. I’m the only male person teaching at CCD on Wednesday nights too (19 students in my first year teaching Confirmation). Attendance at our little parish has been dwindling and I’m trying to do everything I can to help make sure this Church doesn’t end up being one of them that closes. I suppose you could say I’m very attached to my parish. Either way, I’m usually helping in any way I can and constantly being recognized for it.

Please don’t think I’m ungrateful! I certainly do appreciate that people are noticing, but I wish a few more men would join in. That’s really my aim, right now. If it wasn’t always coupled with how this or that person thinks I would make a good priest, I probably wouldn’t be so torqued about it. At any rate, I usually thank them politely but I’m really thinking to myself that my success as a priest doesn’t really rely on their opinions of it. To be totally honest, I get a little tired of it…especially when it comes from the same people constantly. I’m at that age where I have people from all sides telling me I need to do this or that with my life, such as getting married, raising a family, getting ordained, so on, so forth. I’m only 25!

However, on the other side of things, I’m very happy with how my life is turning out right now too and not sure I want to leave it. I’m just started a new good paying job, finally have a truck with factory installed cup holders (its a joke because all my previous vehicles have been older than me) and I’m even looking at potentially buying my own house to live in. I’m at a point where I can really start giving back to my community and my parish (as stated previously) and can make a positive difference for my friends, family and neighbors. I’ve come to realize that is a very good feeling to have. But I’ve still got this inexplicable restlessness that there is something else to accomplish, something more important to do. This little “twinge” has always been there, but it has been getting more and more prevalent as time has passed.

So, I’m going to keep this planned visit something of a secret to my friends and family for the time being. I hope this doesn’t seem too selfish (perhaps it is) but the way I see it, at this stage I need to be the one in discernment about my possible vocation and not concern myself with the opinions of others (at least at my parish and in my community. You all have no idea who I am and will have impartial views about it, so your thoughts are very welcome here!!).

I’ve often been told that I’m a worrier, so maybe I’m making too big of a deal out of this. Some days, I just want to jump in my truck and haul myself to the vocations director and sign up. Other days I feel too obligated to stay with my parish and continue with everything I do there. I certainly know that I’ve got too much internal turmoil to just up and leave everything right now, but maybe in a year or two. I need some time to resolve all my inner doubts and struggles, this much I know.

Anyway, I’m not sure if there is a question to be answered in any of that, but I still feel a little better getting it all out there. If anyone has anything they’d like to add, by all means, be my guest. Thanks to anyone who has simply and graciously lent me an ear.

Hmmm… where to begin…

The answer to the question about what to expect is an easy one - nothing! Go with with an open mind and heart and listen to what God is saying to you. Visiting a seminary gives you an opportunity to get a feel for the place, see what life is like, and to meet others who can relate to your experience. What’s important is whether you feel that it’s the right place for you.

I used to have the same feeling about people telling me I would make a good priest before I even applied to the seminary. Besides feeling more than a bit unnerved, I’d also think that their opinions weren’t what really mattered. It occurred to me though, that this was wrong because the people who were telling me this were part of the Church and, in a way, my future flock. so what they thought should matter a great deal to me especially given that most people aren’t exactly ignorant of how a priest should be. I also think that often God speaks through such people so listening to them might not be such a bad idea…

When I (finally) applied, I was in a similar position to what you’ve described. I had been working for a number of years and could see a good career path ahead of me which would have been easy enough to follow. Wife, car, house kids, etc would all have been a part of that. But, at the same time, I felt like there was something missing, like I needed or was called to do something more with my life and the thought of priesthood was one which had been nagging at me for some time. Giving up everything wasn’t at all easy, although it also wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was. I’m also extremely grateful for the continued support of my friends (many of whom aren’t in the least bit religious) and family.

Finally, as far as your parish goes, it’s often easy to think that so much is dependent on you alone. Whether the parish stays open of closes is probably dependent on a whole raft of factors and all (or most) of those are outside of your control. I hope and pray that when you visit the seminary you’ll feel that it’s the right place for you and that your call has been confirmed. don’t forget that you can also do much for your parish by answering that call and, God-willing inspiring others in their faith.

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