My Vocation Tesitmony

(Part 1)

Hi, I would like to take a few minutes to share with you, my inner-conflict and possible vocation to the Sacramental Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Most priests that I’ve known or heard of have gone into the seminary to study for the priesthood straight out of high school. However, there are some that I know of who lived out in the world; worked, went to school, dated, etc for a few years and then went to the seminary. Those people are known as “late vocations.” I’ve actually had someone tell me (this person is not a priest) that they felt that late vocations make better priests because instead of going straight in after high school, they lived in the world and experienced what it’s like, and therefore can help parishoners better with their real-world conflicts. However, I heard a priest once say that if you feel that you’re being called to the priesthood, to not put it off but to go to the seminary and pursue it immediately.

This might be a shock to some of you out there who have gotten to know me after my short time here on CAF, but often times I will feel like I am being called to the priesthood (I’m sure most young men get that feeling at times in their lives, even those who would later eventually become married and have kids). Now that I am getting ready to graduate from high school, I am starting to really discern what I should do with my life and my interest in the priesthood has been growing.

However, I do have some conflictions. I was raised in an independent parish (but am about to leave it once I graduate and leave home) and for several years have not truly been part of a parish. I’ve never really had the oppurtunity to truly grow as a Catholic in a true parish; joining a youth group, taking religious education classes, having a close relationship with my pastor, truly learning about the essence of the Catholic faith. All I was taught in my independent parish, for the most part, was that Vatican II, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and the post-concilliar popes were evil and that we (by we I mean radical-Traditionalists) were the “remnant faithful”, we never truly had a since of community, the only time we ever did things together as a parish was that brief time during the week when we had mass and that was the only time we ever truly saw our priest.

I remember going to a local diocesan parish up until I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was baptized at the age of 6 after mass along with my at-the-time newly born sister. Since I was of age, I remember the baptism very well. I wasn’t very religious of fervent of heart, but at the moment when I was baptized, I felt a deep, spiritual cleasning going through my inner-self and I never felt better in my life. It wouldn’t be until several years later when I will have discovered what baptism truly was. Not long after that, we stopped going to mass and religion just kind of disappeared from our home. Growing up, we constantly moved around a lot because my mom was always getting transfered to different jobs in different cities. During that entire time, we moved to Topeka, Kansas for a few years and that was the only place where I encountered religion since my baptism. My neighbors were devout Catholics and invited us to go to Mass with them, I went one Sunday to this Church that was right next to our neighborhood and I felt something magnetizing everytime I went to Mass since that very first time. At that time, I was 10 years old and didn’t know much about that Catholic faith at all, but always felt a mystical experience everytime I walked into the Church.

It got to a point to where I started learning about the Catholic faith by reading books and praying that I might know more. That became the #1 thing on my mind was God. Since I was so close to the Church, I would spend a lot of my free time going up there into the sanctuary, admiring the scenery and praying. I still did kid stuff like hang with my friends, play video games, play football, etc. I started to learn more and more about the faith on my own and I eventually ended up going to Mass every Saturday AND Sunday (sometimes I’d go to all three masses), that was my favorite thing to do. At one point, I got so attracted to religion that at the age of 10, I wanted to become a priest because I was so in love with the mass and the Church that I wanted to be a part of it, until my mother told me that priests could not marry. And also, at that time, I was starting to get interested in girls and met my first crush ever. We used to hang out and we were pretty good friends, I don’t know about her but I started to get some feelings for her, the first feelings I ever had for a girl.

But after my mom told me that priests could not marry and that I was hoping to get married one day and have kids, I was just so disappointed. After that, I just completely let go of the idea of wanting to become a priest, but I was still madly in love with the Church and the Mass and I continued on with that streak. I would use to go to Mass by myself at the age of 10 and my mother would very seldom come with me and my step-dad was a non-Catholic and was deployed to Iraq at the time, so it was just me. One day, she came with me to mass and was talking to me about how evil it was because Mass was said out loud while facing the people instead of being said silently in Latin while facing the back wall, communion being given in the hand, under both species, and by lay people, somewhat contemporary music was used instead of Gregorian chants, etc. I never understood what was so wrong about those things or why these things were an issue for her at the time. But one day, my mom got a new job offer in a different state so we ended up moving and left everything behind and started over, AGAIN.

(PART 2)

For the next four years, I would completely forget about religion, AGAIN. My mother was raised in the 1960’s when the Vaitcan II revolutions took place and when all the Traditionalist movements were being created. She went to the mainstream diocesan churches up until she was about 8 or 9 and they started going to a hotel room where an outsider priest would privately go and say a TLM for them, she got to know him over the next several years and would later ending up becoming my parish priest.

So my mom was raised, mostly, in Traditionalism and when she became an adult and left home, she left the faith for a few years and met my father (who is sadly, a very anti-Catholic non-Christian hedonistic secular man who hates religion). They were married outside of the Catholic Church (by a Methodist minister I believe), so therefore, under the eyes of the Church, they were never truly married and I was therefore an illegitamite child. When I was only two years old, my parents split up and it wasn’t until several years later that she met my future step-dad and married him (once again outside of the Church). When she became pregnant with my sister, she decided that she wanted to return to the Church, but she was just content with going to a local diocesan parish a few miles away from our house at the time.

(PART 3)

But skipping back ahead to several years later. I was around the age of 14, my mom decided once again to become a practicing Catholic, but ended up re-discovering her former “underground” pastor and his new parish and we started going there. It was such a shock to me as opposed to what I was used to before at the old church I used to attend in Topeka because it was in Latin and could not understand it. The priest was sort of this arrogant man who thought that he was the only one left in his area still proclaiming the Gospel while everyone else wasn’t.

He was always constantly identifying “error” in everyone else’s interpretation of Catholic teaching. He was always tearing it down, explaining what the error was in a particular group or individual’s view of the Church and would bring up some pre-Vatican II text to explain how it “contradicts” and would effectively cast that group or that individual into Hell with everyone else. After being that Church for a while, it became pretty obvious to me that, literally the entire world was going to hell becuase if he couldn’t find error in a person’s theology (i.e. if it was a priest and he had facial hair other than a full beard “gotee, mustache, etc” that was good enough he was going to hell) if he couldn’t find any of that now it’s just a matter of if they’re not “in the Traditionalist movement” then that was evidence enough that you weren’t one of God’s elect. When we first started going there, he rarely ever preached, he would spend most of his time trashing “the New Order” as he called it for their said “errors” and “modernism.” Yet, so many good, sincere, devout, religious people were so attracted to his preaching and his mass that people from literally several hundred miles a round would come to his mass every Sunday. There were even quite a few that came from out of State. I used to dread going to that parish, not because of the Latin Mass (which I learned to love after a short time) but because of his arrogant, self-righteous, Phariseutical preaching.

I tried to tell my mom a few times about what I saw wrong with it, but she would get mad at me everytime telling me that it was wrong of me to question what he was saying because it was coming from God, or something to that affect. I have nothing against him personally. In real life, he’s a nice, fun loving man whom you’d really love to get to know. Earlier I mentioned that we never had much contact with him outside of Mass, but occasionally I did. Like the time I got my first “confession.” I was 16 years old and it was the day after I got my first car and passed my driver’s test and got my license. The first place I went to was up to the Church for my first “confession” and I got to have a small conversation with him on that day and that is when I really got to see ther human side of him. Later on, he started trashing a lot less and preaching a lot more, which got me to tolerate going back to that parish more. The very next day after receiving my first “Confession” I received my first communion. Around that same time, my relationship with the Lord began to sprout once again, even to the point that I was thinking about reconsidering the vocation to the priesthood. I knew that I still couldn’t be married as a priest but I didn’t care because by that time I had come to realize that, you don’t need sex and relationships to be happy in life (yes I am a virgin :D) which is ironic of me to realize that at the age of 16 where relationships and sex are the only things going on in the minds of most people my age. Since by that time, I had discovered the Traditional Latin Mass and grew pretty fond of it, I was kind of considering the FSSP (which I will get to later). My biggest concern was telling people, my friends and especially my dad who I have always had a strong bond with but who absolutely hates and despises the Catholic Church. He’s told me about how he hates the Church and how “evil” it is for the sex abuse scandal and the Insquisitions, etc. He said that he had a professor in college who was a former Catholic priest but fell away and became an atheist and was his Philosophy professor in college and he “exposed the Church for what it really was.”

And that’s how my dad got to learn about the Church and developed his hatred towards it. He knows that I am a practicing Catholic now and has been trying real hard to get me to leave the Church but nothing’s working, thank God. I told my mom about me possibly becoming a priest and she of course approved of it but I don’t know how to tell others if the time comes, especially my dad. I understand that I must be willing to put my spiritual Father above my human father (which I am willing to do) but my bond with my dad has always been so great and I would be so upset if it was frayed because of my vocation. Despite the fact that he is upset with the fact that I am a practicing Catholic, he had never stopped loving me. But I don’t know if it will be the same if I become a priest, or pursue the vocation because he believed that Catholic priests are evil because they “hypocritcally” abstain from marriage for religious reasons but choose to instead molest little children (which only applies to like 2% of the priests today) and that everyone is entitled to sex, marriage, relationships, etc. My desire to become a priest has been coming and going every now and then for the past 2 years, but I feel that I am being called now more than ever.

(PART 4) FINAL PART :smiley:

But like I mentioned above, I never truly had a chance to get involved in parish life or truly learn the fulness of the Catholic faith. I know quite a bit about it now through research but I still feel that I have much more to learn from the source of a parish priest. I’ve also never been confirmed. And I also might feel that God might be calling me to the vocation of marriage (there’s no girl in my life right now) but it could still happen in the future. I also have a love for music and multimedia. I was kind of thinking about going to college and pursuing a multimedia degree and my dad has a love for music, just like I do and I like to mess with his recording equipment at times and record songs. There’s also a part of me that feels that my future could be involved in being successful in music or launching a successful career in multimeda. I even thought about if I ever do get married and have children, I could also be called to the permanent diaconate. I am at a crossroads right now in terms of my vocation to serving God. Like I mentioned in the very beginning that I’ve heard of most priests going straight to the seminary straight out of high school and others living out in the world working, going to school dating, etc and then going to the seminary (late vocations). Part of me has said, “Go take advantage of the vocation. Act on it now! Go to the seminary immediately.” However, like I have mentioned, I have never truly gotten involved in the Church at this point and I feel that by pursuing a vocation at this point in time for me, would be taking it too fast. Another part of me is saying, "Go out into the world. Make music, go to college and get your degree, find a few dates and see if God is calling you to marriage.

Live out in the world and keep the vocation to the priesthood in your mind and if you haven’t gotten married or found a relationship within the next 5-10 years or so, go to the seminary. Those who are late vocations turn out to be better priests." However, that seems kind of selfish of me to do that. God had preordianed from the foundation of the world who His priests would be and when He reveals the calling to me in my heart, you would think that He would want me to act on it immediately, right?

I would just really appreciate it if I could get some feedback from as many people as I can.

What steps should I take in discerning my “call” (prayer, talking to priests, etc)?

What advice would you guys have for me in terms of the Crosses I would have to bear in discerning my vocation?

I am not looking at a specific order to join. I just feel like being a diocesan priest out in the community openly serving the people as a pastor or chaplain.

And please keep me and other young men and women who are discerning calls to the priesthood and/or religious life in your prayers. Thanks and God bless :smiley:

As a recent convert (this year actually!) and college Sophmore who has been feeling a tug toward the Priesthood, I have this piece of advice- if the calling is from God, it will stay with you. For nearly three years, I argued with God about becoming Catholic… I put it off, and put it off, mainly because of my staunchly Southern Baptist family. Even still, He finally broke through my fears and brought me home. The same will hold true for you- when God calls you to something, He doesn’t stop just because you try to go in the opposite direction.

Because I only have two more years of college left, I am going to finish my degree out and then apply to my Diocese if the call persists. Four years of college won’t really delay your vocation, and it is a good time to experience personal growth and a deepening of your faith as you learn to defend and hold fast to what you believe. But, if you wish to begin discernment for the Priesthood now, get in touch with the Vocation’s Office of your Diocese. Also, they will almost definitely want you to be confirmed before you could go on to study for Holy Orders- find a good parish of your diocese and contact the priest. You will also want to let him know about your situation with the the traditionalist group.

Pray everyday- if you don’t pray the Rosary, start. Our Lady will point you in the direction Jesus wants you to go. Also, once you find an actual parish in your area, see if you can go to Adoration there at least once a month, and try to attend daily Mass as often as possible. The Eucharist is our greatest source of grace- make good use of Him!

I will remember you tomorrow morning at Mass and in my Rosary.

In Jesus and Mary

Thanks you very much man. I really do appreciate it. I will keep you in my prayers as well. God bless :smiley:

I will definitely keep you in my prayers! This forum is really not the best place to get advice on discernment, which is what you’re really talking about here. I do have a few thoughts, though. By the way, I’m 40 and will probably be starting seminary this August after a 2.5 year discernment “pre-formation” period. I have dated a few women too, and was engaged to be married at one point. So here goes…

To me, it sounds like you have a lot of questions which will only be answered if you actually experience what you’re wondering about. What I mean is that at only 16, you may need more “life experience” in order to make an informed decision. I’m not saying you haven’t been through a lot already. From what you wrote, I don’t think anyone could say that. But from what I know there aren’t as many guys that start seminary immediately after high school these days. There are some, sure, but they’re the exception.

If you feel drawn to the priesthood in some way, I would highly recommend you start helping out at church by serving at Mass or as a lector or sacristan. A *spiritual director *may also be in order, but you need to find a priest who has time available and is willing to help you in this way. You should expect to meet with him about once a month, and at his convenience.

If you haven’t dated much, please keep your mind open to that idea, too. Whatever you do when you date, don’t get caught up in the ways of the world and risk your purity. If you get involved helping out at church, you may meet some Catholic girls who interest you. This often takes time to come around, so be patient. Visibility is key here, in my opinion. :wink:

*I would also suggest you look into getting confirmed as soon as possible. *There’s nothing like an renewed infusion of the Holy Spirit to help a guide you on whatever path God has chosen for you! :getholy:

Finally, there’s no rush! I promise you, truly, that God is not up in heaven looking down on you with His arms folded, tapping His foot, looking at His watch and going “hurry up, bro!” :slight_smile: Each day should be lived as a blessing, one day at a time. You have many, many options to explore and lots of time to do it. If you can live in the moment, and plan for a future which you *daily *surrender to God, I believe that then you will be able to see a little of what God has in store for you. And whatever that is, be assured is is something great!

I hope this helped a little bit. Thanks for reading.

Yours in Jesus through Mary,

Tom

I think it would be wise to learn “the fullness of the Catholic faith” before attempting to join a Catholic seminary.

.

Hmmm… where to begin?

Well first of all, a bit about me :smiley: I entered my diocesan seminary last year after quite a few years of discernment and working. I’m not sure I’d regard myself as an “older vocation” as such - depending on where you are that term is generally applied to those who enter around middle age or older (which I’m not).

I would advise most young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood to spend some time at college and / or working - admittedly, I’m biased because that’s what I did and (seems to have) worked for me! Not everyone is the same of course and it does very much depend on the individual. That said, you would need to be confirmed before you could enter the seminary and active involvement in your parish would help with your application - basically, it shows that you’re doing more than just showing up once a week. There a plenty of ways to become involved and I’m sure you can probably figure out for yourself (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course) how best you can serve God.

At the risk of telling you stuff you already know, a spiritual director (someone who you can discuss your prayer life with) would be very helpful as would taking with the vocations director for the diocese you were thinking of applying to.

As far as parents go, a lot of people tend to have this funny split between theory and reality. So, in your case, your Dad may well think that all priests are evil, hypocritical, sexually repressed, child molesters in waiting but when it comes to you his views will undoubtedly be different! Obviously he’s not going to be the greatest cheerleader for what you’re doing and he, along with your mother, will naturally have concerns - they understandably want what’s best for you of course what you think that is and what they think it is may well be two different things).

Finally, I would encourage you to develop a contemplative prayer life. By that I mean sitting in silence, guided perhaps by some spiritual reading to spark and guide your thoughts, and let the Lord speak to you in your heart. There is a wonderful richness in silence that is sadly overlooked in our busy lives but which is also needed to centre us and to let us listen to the Lord.

God willing, you will find what He is calling you to. I will pray for you and would ask that you please also pray for me. Finally, feel free to PM me if there’s anything more you’d like to know from me.

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