Mental Illness and Priesthood


#1

I have paranoid schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. I also feel a call to priesthood. I have contacted my diocesan vocations director and he has told me to wait two years and see how things progress, though he doesn't sound very hopeful. I have tried emailing the vocations directors of other dioceses in my state but have had no luck in getting any of them to respond except one. He seems more hopeful but I'm still waiting on a followup email with more details on what a discernment would be like for me. My therapist and psychiatrist believe I can function as a priest some day as long as I continue to progress in my treatment. Does anyone know of a paranoid schizophrenic being admitted to seminary?


#2

Under canon law, mental illness can be an impediment from ordination. All three mental illnesses you mentioned have different degrees ranging from barely effecting, to needing drugs to function in normal daily life. Canon Law states that it is something that must be assessed by a competent experts.

Can. 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:

1/ a person who labors under some form of amentia or other psychic illness due to which, after experts have been consulted, he is judged unqualified to fulfill the ministry properly;


#3

There is another thread in this forum about whether people with mental illness can have vocations--it got a lot of responses and you might want to check it out.


#4

I have never known such cases like that. I guess formators know canon 1041 as Deo gratias noted.
God bless.
In Christ and Mary


#5

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:2, topic:315369"]
Under canon law, mental illness can be an impediment from ordination. All three mental illnesses you mentioned have different degrees ranging from barely effecting, to needing drugs to function in normal daily life. Canon Law states that it is something that must be assessed by a competent experts.

[/quote]

Who are the competent experts? A psychiatrist or psychologist? Or someone else? I am hopeful if it is a psychiatrist or psychologist, because I am quite stable on my meds and the doctors tell me good things about my future potential as a priest.

[quote="Lisa1967, post:3, topic:315369"]
There is another thread in this forum about whether people with mental illness can have vocations--it got a lot of responses and you might want to check it out.

[/quote]

Do you happen to have link to it?


#6

No, I don't have a link. Just scroll through the threads.


#7

I would imagine that it is similar to anything else requiring psychological examinations. I assume that it would be a psychiatrist who is quite knowledgeable about the psychological demands of the priesthood and how your particular condition would interfere with it. If it’s like applying to police forces, and completing their psychological testing, they have their own trained psychiatrist who does the screening, who may or may not collaborate with your psychiatrist. There isn’t much I can say on this, as all I can do is make educated guesses.

My experiences with people who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and paranoid schizophrenia have been through working in the criminal justice field. I never met with them in my office for security reasons because they were unpredictable, despite being heavily drugged. Now, I’m sure you’re not like them, but you still have a lot working against you.


#8

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:7, topic:315369"]
Now, I'm sure you're not like them, but you still have a lot working against you.

[/quote]

Yes, I have a lot working against me. That much is true. But I am confident in God and trust Him above all else. He will see me through this. :)


#9

I have also been diagnosed with mental illness, I won't go into full detail here. But it did affect my ability to become a nun. While I was so sure of my calling, it didn't work out. :( Please be patient in this, and take care of yourself no matter what.


#10

[quote="ChristIsTheWay, post:8, topic:315369"]
Yes, I have a lot working against me. That much is true. But I am confident in God and trust Him above all else. He will see me through this. :)

[/quote]

Then why are you drilling us on whether or not we know people who became priests with XYZ mental illnesses? Even if we did, that doesn't mean anything for you, as it's a case-by-case basis thing.


#11

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:10, topic:315369"]
Then why are you drilling us on whether or not we know people who became priests with XYZ mental illnesses? Even if we did, that doesn't mean anything for you, as it's a case-by-case basis thing.

[/quote]

You don't have to be harsh. :( And I wasn't drilling anyone, I asked a simple question. If you don't know the answer, please refrain from responding, and not attacking me.


#12

I'm sure he wasn't trying to be harsh. There are a lot of opinions here on just about everything. But the best guide for you would be to get a spiritual counselor who can work with you on this. At least, that's my opinion. I think we all need help when making such a huge decision.


#13

At various times in my life I felt the calling to be a nun. Because of advanced age, mental illness, owning a cat, and other life circumstances, I no longer feel that call.

I think orders and dioceses have the right to set selection criteria for applicants.


#14

[quote="Lisa1967, post:13, topic:315369"]
At various times in my life I felt the calling to be a nun. Because of advanced age, mental illness, owning a cat, and other life circumstances, I no longer feel that call.

I think orders and dioceses have the right to set selection criteria for applicants.

[/quote]

I think owning a cat is an impediment to orders.

Owning a dog, however, is a free pass. :)


#15

LOL! My cat, kitten actually, is 8 months, tons of work.

I used to go to a parish whose priest had a dog. The dog came with him to church.


#16

Whilst with God all things are possible and I wouldn't dream of stopping you from from exploring the possibility of a vocation, I would also strongly counsel you to not place all your hopes in achieving it.

It could be that God has planted in you the desire for priesthood in order to help you live a holy life as a lay man knowing that your particular condition may make it a difficult or impossible task to achieve.

However, do not lose hope and even if it turns out not to be possible, there's no reason why you can't offer yourself to the Lord to provide a service to the Church in other pastoral areas. You might end up assisting the Vocations team at your diocese or working with disadvantaged people to help their lot in life. Your medical condition need not be an out-and-out barrier to achieving the goal of holiness and service in your life, but it might mean that you have to accommodate it in how you do so.

I wish you all the best.


#17

Let me get this straight

Being a priest or religious is not for your own sake but is to serve the Church **and the Christian community. To do so, you need some qualifications and must be in **good physical as mental health.

Given your current conditions, I can say, you do not fit to that place (I had been in a similar situation like you). However, no one can say that you don't have vocation. *Everything is possible to God. If God wants to call you now, He definitely has the power to cure you. *

Don't worry too much. Just be patient in your prayers. You can try to go to retreat to give yourself time and space to listen to God's will.

God loves you no matter who you are.


#18

As a person with ASD and a calling to the priesthood, to be honest it's a mixed bag like the Capuchins say they will not take me but, the Divine Word Missionaries said that they need my recent documentation and transcripts. Also, meet with the vocation director and do not mention it unless they ask about your mental/physical health. Also, find a spiritual director and inquire about this..... This is not a guide but, what I did. I don't know if I'm accepted in but, there's a pretty good chance maybe....


#19

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