My vocation to the priesthood

6 years after first responding to the call, I have yet to be accepted and am applying this year for the first time to my home diocese. I am 33. Six years ago I was leading a normal life with a cushy corporate job in a big city.

Once I first responded to the call, everything changed. The journey has strengthened me over time, but it has been a bit of a spiritual rollercoaster with anger and frustration in the process at times leading me back to sin through frustration.

This time feels different. I feel spiritually strong, have the support of many people and priests around the country and globe, have good habits of fasting and prayer and the liturgy of the hours is like a cold spring flowing on a hot day.

But, at times I have to hold back frustration. I have been waiting for 3 years to apply to my home diocese because my former vocation director said to me with my beard that I would be better suited for a religious order and that with a particular medical disorder that I would not qualify anyway for the diocese. The beard is so petty. I don’t have it now but can’t believe facial hair would hold back an applicant. I paid my own money to get cleared by a medical professional and he still wouldn’t let me apply. So now, last week, I had a great interview with the new vocation director and he is fine with everything. I’m one of the last applicants of this cycle but already like working with him much better.

I was frustrated to the point that I did not plan on applying again until later in life. A priest and former Navy Chaplain stayed close to me and nudged me to interview with the new vocation director. If it wasn’t for him, this opportunity may have been lost.

What I have learned over the years is that no matter where we land in our vocation, we are called to be holy. So please take today to examine yourself, avoid sin, near occasions of sin, and pray for me to do the same.

AMDG,

Isaiah_53

It really makes me empathize the biblical walk of 40 years through the desert… puts things into perspective.

That’s an inspiring story, I am sure God will reward your patience! May God bless you!

Perseverance is a virtue! As the scriptures proclaim about Christ’s birth…in the fullness of time…(something great occurred). Our desire to see things to fruition is an endeavor of every human life. No reason for your situation to be any different. Our Lord calls those whom He chooses and if God’s will is perceived may your goal to serve the Church be a blessing to the faithful and your soul. A priest is a priest forever in the manner God has chosen to give us this role for individuals. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide your path to know that is the course for your life. God Bless your endeavor and may God’s will be done…either way.

Praying for you.

A beard? Really?

Yesterday at mass, we had 24 seminarians in their “spirituality year” with us. They stayed to visit at coffee and donuts after mass, and I’d guess half of them – at least – had beards!

God has His purpose in slowing things down at times, and if he uses your facial hair for this purpose, then so be it. :yukonjoe:

I’ll keep you in my prayers. Be at peace. :signofcross:

I’m working on a special gift to all members of the interview board.

I make rosaries. Indestructible rosaries.

I use black paracord for the rope and my favorite setup is to use a miraculous medal for the Marian centerpiece with a Benedictine crucifix.

I just ordered a bunch in bulk (enough to make 25 or so) and plan to make these in preparation for interview day (if I make it that far). I use 4 pins and ordered sterling silver 20 gauge pins.

I think there are 12 people on the board. I live near Trappists and hope the Abbot can give a special blessing to them (for the Benedictine crucifix).

My confessor thinks it’s awesome I make spiritual weapons.

Our Lady of the Knots helps me train my ‘fingers for war’ (Psalm 144)

I am so grateful to you and all the men and women who answer the call to vocations. Thank you, thank you, thank you for discerning and listening to God.

I was rejected this week. I submitted the strongest packet of my life. I was approved by 2 psych doctors.

I had over 15 recommendations. I have a distinguished background with two degrees and a minor with experience at a major company in corporate finance. Not enough.

I was lynched in my interview. I received a pepper spray of questions regarding bipolar disorder which centered around their idea of the stigma of the disorder rather than what I am actually dealing with. In fact, i’m not really dealing with any major issues, which my MD described in his letter of recommendation. So I was interviewed by people who do not know what it means to be bipolar and forced to answer flawed questions by people without a medical degree. The interview had little emphasis on my prayer life, my spiritual life, and my formation to answer the call to the priesthood. It was largely a misunderstanding in addition to them losing my main recommendation from my closest priest who I have brunch with every Sunday. He said he would go to the board to testify on my behalf and that he supported me 100% to the vocation director.

Yet, the bishop and vocation director did not stand up for me to take the risk. They did not even give me a chance to enter the seminary.

I felt the call in 2010. Since then, I have dated on and off and parts of my dating life have destroyed my spiritual life. I secrete massive amounts of testosterone (i’m not joking) and am attractive (there goes my humility) as well as being highly intelligent, meshing well in social situations, driven, and in many ways I get along with women well. What I am getting at is that I am often pursued to date women and it has in a way mislead my vocation to the priesthood.

But, here I am, wanted by the world in many ways (for finance positions paying money that I do not wish to be a part of anymore) and women who desire for me to be their husband and father of their children (i’m not kidding). Yet, I am constantly rejected by the church.

And… I feel the call is stronger than ever. I had dinner with my priest last night and explained this conundrum. I felt that despite my rejection from the church, I still feel called to the priesthood and also feel that I need to reject any and all attempts to date from women to preserve my vocation to the priesthood. This is a bit heart wrenching for me, but my desire in life is not only to please God and obey his commandments, but to give the greatest amount of glory to God. God will completely allow me to marry and live a happy life as a Father and Husband, but I feel my strongest call is to the priesthood. I feel my call is to be a supernatural father to bear spiritual fruit, the strongest fruit we can bear in this life for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven.

So here I am rejected by the Church, felt called to the priesthood by God, and encouraged by many priests to continue to apply. I am more positive about it than I think I would be and in the past I have grown a long beard (as stated earlier) to help with pushing away the girls, but after the rejection and continued feeling of a strong call, I felt I needed a physical representation of:

a) My commitment to God, celibacy, and my vocation to the priesthood
b) A clear symbol to women that I am taken and not open to dating

in the form of a ring on my wedding finger.

It might take 10 years for me to be accepted and I need to preserve this vocation with all of my heart and soul. Getting married and having a family would not be the worst thing of the world, but I feel strongly that I was put here on this earth to give the greatest glory to God. It is very difficult sometimes as I have dated a handful of girls who wanted to get married and I denied it, didn’t feel it was right, and broke up with them. I have abused my gift of celibacy with my ability to seduce women, but that is not my true calling.

In joy and pain I put on this ring as there is the possibility I will never be accepted and have passed the opportunity to become a father of children in this life.

From this point forward, a close friend whom I lived with when he was a seminarian (who is now a priest) recommended me to two bishops who have ‘courage’ to take risks on valuable candidates to the priesthood. I emailed them today and look forward to their response. Also, as an academic and intellectual, I’m thinking of the possibility of doing philosophy and theology studies independently, so that the financial risk of a bishop accepting me would be significantly lessened. I am meeting with my spiritual director next week to further discuss.

My father was furious. He wrote a letter to the bishop asking for re-consideration. There is little chance this bishop will overturn the voting of the board. He is actually more angry about the whole thing than I am.

Its not that I don’t care and I have felt frustration and anger. But, they had pre-conceived notions about me before I walked into the final interview despite the glowing recommendations and distinguished background. There was really nothing I could do in the board.

I live 2 miles from my parents and visit them almost every day to help to take care of them ( my mom has dementia).

I sat with my mom and told her (before my rejection phone call) that ‘today I have the opportunity to become stronger or weaker in the faith’. I cried for the fact that I didn’t think it was fair. But, then I realized it was the way that God wanted it to be. I grew stronger in my faith that moment. God let me know the rejection call was coming and kept me free from sin and in a state of grace.

I asked for one thing to be inscribed in the ring today to hold close in this life to love and to serve God in the best way I can and in the way Jesus showed us:

‘humilitas’

You haven’t said why you want to be a priest?

To love and to serve. I want to do the will of God and feel he is calling me to be a priest. Initially I felt a calling from God to come to daily mass, then multiple feelings of Him asking me to come closer. I initially dragged my feet and denied it. But, when I responded to the call I felt pure joy as I felt I was following God’s will.

Thomas Merton said although sometimes we think we are following God’s will we may not be, but our intent to follow it is pleasing to Him.

“But, at times I have to hold back frustration. I have been waiting for 3 years to apply to my home diocese because my former vocation director said to me with my beard that I would be better suited for a religious order and that with a particular medical disorder that I would not qualify anyway for the diocese. The beard is so petty. I don’t have it now but can’t believe facial hair would hold back an applicant. I paid my own money to get cleared by a medical professional and he still wouldn’t let me apply. So now, last week, I had a great interview with the new vocation director and he is fine with everything. I’m one of the last applicants of this cycle but already like working with him much better.”

Isaiah, it appears that your story is somewhat similar to mine. I too was an academically inclined young man who discerned a vocation with his diocese and, for some reason or another, was strung along for several years until definitely declined for reasons still unknown to me. And, interestingly enough, an early vocations director in the diocese suggested that with my temperament and skill set I would be better off in a religious order.

I took little account of it at that time, but had I listened to him, rather than simply presuming I had it all figured out, things might have gone very differently. Early indications like this, even if given in a somewhat troubling context, bear much consideration. Moreover, mental illness issues in one serving in active ministry always carry much risk for a diocese – and they mentioned that early on.

I’d dare ask you if you’ve given any further consideration to life as a religious – if the physical sign of your direct consecration to God should be a habit rather than a ring. Of course, they will allow you studies in philosophy and theology (do not pay your own way! it’s prohibitively expensive!) and may open a path for ordination to you as well. Is this within your consideration, and if not, why not?

My sense is that you should look towards a religious order. Maybe the Trappists.

Everyone is called to holiness- but not everyone is called to be diocesan priest. In fact, being a diocesan priest is a ‘job’ (as well as a vocation)- in fact, lay people can have more time for prayer, Scripture reading and meditation than many diocesan priests!

It is quite a good vocation to be a devoted lay Catholic, too. Normally (for those in religious order, and for seculars too), the call to priesthood comes from necessity- a priest is needed, and you kind of get pushed into it.

If you feel called to a life of prayer, the religious life should be your vocational choice.

I suggest you find a particular community you like, and apply to it. Maybe one that’s nowhere near where you currently live. The fact that you have been talking to your diocese for a few years suggests that this is not the path for you.

It will take a courage and determination to do this- but I will pray that you do…

I have visited the Trappists. Their style of life is not for me.

I have talked to a few religious orders, but feel called to be a diocesan priest. I understand being a diocesan priest is a job, and I look forward to that style of life. Being a parish priest with a flock of sheep to be with and getting to know them is very exciting to me. I wouldn’t necessarily have that as a religious.

The diocesan priest I visit every Sunday is a big inspiration to me. We spend a lot of time together. I could see myself in his role more than any other role in the church. I am considering other locations than my current diocese.

Your story is very moving. As someone who is only a year younger than you and as someone who feels I am not at the place in my life I want to be, I know how you feel. I remind myself that God wants me here. I may not be at the most glamorous part of my life, but God wants me to be here now. God wants me to learn patience, he wants me to understand humility, he wants me to carry my cross through this stage in my life. Carrying your cross through such a long period of time does not mean you are not meant to be a priest, but that you will be a better priest when the time comes. Of course, I do not just go with the flow at all times. I am always looking at how I can improve myself for the future. Taking philosophy and theology classes would be beneficial to you spiritually. I would not break the bank, but taking a few prerequisites for a possible Master of Divinity degree would help you grow personally. Maybe the Holy Spirit will lead you to teach religion at a Catholic school. I do not know what your parochial life is like, but maybe you could get more involved for a while. You could also look into the permanent diaconate program for your diocese. Just remember your journey is meant to improve you.

Then go talk to a more active religious order that does parish work. Not all religious are monastic. Or stick around talking to the dioceses and get the same runaround you have from your own, now with the big demerit of having been declined from one giving them a line of inquiry they might use against. By the time its done, you’ll likely have aged out of their requirements.

I know I sound rather challenging here, but oftentimes we need a challenge like this. A priestly vocation is a very distinct one, and perhaps the most distinct of all ecclesiastical vocations as it is a conforming of your soul to Christ specifically in His priestly office. Thus, the primary duty of the priest is the sacraments – much more so than pastoral care or parish administration. In everything you’ve written here, the sacraments haven’t even been mentioned once.

I bring this up because a pious life is not necessarily a sign that one has a priestly vocation. Whether you do have a priestly vocation, moreover, isn’t up to you; it’s up to the superior who accepts you for formation, to the seminary rector who directs that formation, to the bishop who agrees to ordain you. It’s not just you and Jesus; the Church through her agents is profoundly involved in the process. However, a pious life, a willingness to be conformed to Christ in all facets (not simply the priestly), and a desire to live our baptismal promises to the utmost is a sign that one should consider a religious vocation seriously.

So, I’m with Qoeleth on this one. It’s likely very common in this day that young men, considering their vocation in life, are first drawn to the priesthood because their pastor and curates are well known to them, and religious aren’t well known at all. The pastor and curates, also, are much more likely to meet young men considering greater service to the Church with the sales pitch to fill their own ranks, with religion being an afterthought, and then often only mentioned as another path to the priesthood. It is seldom presented except to women as a distinct vocation in itself. This has resulted, of course, in dwindling numbers of men religious, leading them to become even less present in the awareness of the faithful, which is rather troubling.

The way you write tells me much about you. If you say you “have good habits of fasting and prayer and the liturgy of the hours is like a cold spring flowing on a hot day,” you mark yourself out immediately as a better candidate for the religious life (whether ordination will be entailed in that or not) than you do for the diocesan clergy – particularly considering your talk of the sacraments is absent. A religious vocation, moreover, is not so distinct to the soul as a priestly vocation and thus discernment will differ. Ordination imparts a new and everlasting character upon our souls for which only a few are called; religious vows, however, impart no new character but carry those we’ve already received through baptism and confirmation through to their perfections by promising our life on earth will be as it is in heaven. It is a far more universal call, in other words.

I like you, Isaiah, you’re eager and articulate and can be of great service to God and His holy Church. But you must be sure that service is according to the way God wants you to serve, which often is not the best way we think. God closed a door here, or at least permitted His agents to close a door upon you. It’s best though to assess what vistas are open to you rather than ruminating on the past. If I were you, I’d start considering active religious orders.

P.S.: The wedding ring, you may not know, will probably attract more women than it keeps away. It’s not a good idea, and moreover makes you seem phony. I’d dispense with it.

Thanks for your kind words. I have visited religious orders and for the most part the life just seems boring to me. I’m quite active in sports and love being with the people. In fact, there are a few activities I practice that I feel help ground me that are not available in a religious order.

Admististering the sacraments is also a big thing. I mentioned this to my vocation director; I only said here ‘to love and to serve’. By serving as a diocesan priest I implied the admistering of sacraments. I visualize myself as a priest guiding people to the oasis of the sacraments, like an oasis in the desert giving them water overflowing with grace as ‘they thirst’. I would merely be the cup, the conduit giving to them the living water.

I had a conversation with my priest at dinner a few days ago. I said, how do I deal with the fact that I feel a calling, am rejected by the church, yet accepted by women? I said ‘I feel like dating destroys my spiritual life at times and delays my vocation to the priesthood’. What if it takes 10 years to be accepted?

He said, well, then it takes 10 years. I am in the prime of my life and the most difficult person to persuade at times will be me. So the ring is unconventional. But, I feel it will be a constant reminder to my commitment to God. I have a meeting with my spiritual director on Thursday and don’t get the ring until the next day, so can ask him about it.

Another thing im looking into is possibly studying philosophy for 2 years. Catholic U and Steubenville come to mind. Is it possible to get the M. Div. as well? Suggestions?

I do see your point about the ring possibly being ‘phony’ which is not what I want. I have already paid for it. I guess at the very least I could wear it at night - to go to sleep and arise with my commitment to the Lord.

You don’t need to be a priest to do that.

I suggest the following.

  1. Set your frustrations aside. That’s all about you, and not about…

  2. Get on with the business of loving and serving.

  3. Do such an impressive job of loving and serving that someday the Church will come banging on your door begging you to be a priest.

  4. When that happens, thank them very much for the high honor, but regrettably decline given that you are already too busy loving and serving to take on any new projects.

Stop waiting around for permission from the Church to be a serious exemplary Catholic. Just go do it. That’s what a real priest would do.

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