Priesthood - A waste of talent?


Disclaimer: Hypothetical question and scenario only which do not reflect my real thought:

Is it a ‘waste of talent’ for a wealthy nobleman of considerable social prestige to head for priesthood? Have there been such stories in Church History?

Now, switching the context to our modern times, would it be a ‘waste of talent’ for a physician or barrister to become a priest or religious brother, given that medicine and law are demanding professions which require years of highly intellectual training, stretching students’ minds to their limit and challenging their stamina as well as physical strength simultaneously?

‘‘See how much money the society has spent on college education and postgraduate formation, and how high are the expectations on future doctors and lawyers from the general public (so as their families), and now YOU the mischievous guy is giving up your financial and social privileges for priesthood?! See how many of your peers and friends are not even qualified to enter medical school, and you forgo your established career for your so-called Catholic Faith? Aren’t you disappointing the society for not faithfully working as a doctor? Isn’t your Faith an illusion? Why committing yourself to the alleged love for God when this Church thingy is simply a Ponzi scheme of gay circle and politics disguised as homophobia and charity?’’


It would absolutely not be a waste of talent. As far as the “wealthy nobleman” goes, history is full of saints who rejected their wealth and status. On the other hand, there are have been noblemen and women, and royalty who have been canonized as well. God calls each to his/her own vocation. As for physicians, lawyers, etc…leaving that for the priesthood is not a waste of talent either. There are many wonderful opportunities within the church for those skills to be put to use. We have canon lawyers, many of whom also have civil law degrees. We also have priests and religious with law degrees in legal ministries helping the underprivileged. I know of several priests who are nurses, which goes a long way in chaplaincy work.

Here is an article about a Jesuit priest/physician (former Chief of Psychiatry at the #1 ranked hospital in the United States) who passed away about a year ago. With even a brief skimming of this article you can see how God used this man’s talent to minister to to so many and change lives for the better:

If you do your best to follow God’s will in your life, there will never be a “waste of talent”.


Bernard Anthony Hebda (born September 3, 1959) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, who was appointed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on March 24, 2016. He had been serving as both Apostolic Administrator of that archdiocese since June 2015 and Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark since September 2013. Before those appointments, Hebda served as Bishop of the Gaylord, Michigan, where he was consecrated bishop and installed on December 1, 2009. He had previously served as Undersecretary (third in charge) of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, an agency of the Roman Curia responsible for the interpretation of church law.

Besides English, he speaks Italian and knows Latin, French, and Spanish.

Hebda was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1959 in the community of Brookline. He attended South Hills Catholic High School (now Seton-La Salle Catholic High School), and then attended Harvard University, where he earn a BA in political science in 1980. He **earned a JD from Columbia Law School **at the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law in 1983.

He entered the seminary and studied philosophy at the Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh from 1984 to 1985. He lived at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and attended the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1985–1988) **and a licentiate in Canon Law **(1988–1990).

On July 1, 1989, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Hebda was appointed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark on September 24, 2013,where Archbishop John Myers said he had asked for the appointment of someone to assist him as he approached retirement age, though he had been the target of charges that he had mishandled cases of the sexual abuse of minors.Hebda chose a dormitory at Seton Hall University as his residence. He defended Myers against complaints he had spent an extravagant amount on living quarters for his retirement, noting he had lived in shared quarters at the cathedral rectory in Newark for thirteen years.

In November 2013, Hebda was elected to chair the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

He continued in this coadjutor appointment when also named apostolic administrator of St. Paul and Minneapolis (see below) and would later cease as coadjutor when appointed archbishop of the latter see.

On June 15, 2015, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piché of Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who cited the provision of Canon Law that advises the resignation of a bishop who “become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause”. The same day Pope Francis appointed Hebda its Apostolic Administrator to serve until a new archbishop would be installed. In September Hebda met with representatives of the Minnesota chapter of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, a group Nienstedt had described as “an affront to the hierarchical ordering of the church … and a threat to her unity”. They discussed how the laity could participate in defining the needs of the archdiocese and what it expects from its next archbishop. Hebda said “was delighted to learn that they share my interest in engaging in a wide consultation of the faithful in assessing the needs of the archdiocese” and “I was also happy to share with them some of the preliminary plans for that consultation, and appreciated their input and offer of collaboration.” He organized a series of public meetings–“listening sessions”–throughout the diocese to allow Catholic parishioners, clergy, and employees to express their views on the appointment of a new archbishop. During his term as administrator, the Archdiocese reached agreement on a civil settlement with officials of Ramsey County on procedures to prevent child sexual abuse. It provided for judicial oversight for three years. In a letter to Catholics in the archdiocese Hebda wrote: “We are agreeing to implement the plan under a set deadline and to be held accountable for that commitment.” He called the settlement “the most public indicator that this archdiocese has earnestly embarked on a journey of self-reflection, evaluation and action” In his time as administrator, less than a year, he handled a number of cases of priests charged with sexual abuse of minors, both removing and reinstating them.

On March 24, 2016, he was named Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He was installed on May 13, 2016

Sure doesn’t seem like a “waste” to me.


It was common in earlier times, because only the eldest son would inherit the noble title and land, for a younger brother to go into the Church. (And other brothers to go into the army, or across the ocean as conquistadors or the equivalent.)

It is not in any way a waste of talent. Why do you think it would be?



Let us not forget Giovanni Battista Montini who became Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI was born into a wealthy family in Lombardy Italy. In addition to being a holy and righteous man Pope Paul VI was a prophet. In his encyclical Humane Vitae he discussed the consequences of birth control.


Celebrating Mass and aiding in the salvation of souls is never a waste. He may be able to reach people others can’t.:slight_smile:


Although he wasn’t a priest, St. Francis was tremendously wealthy and threw it all away for “Lady Poverty.”


I know of one priest who went to medical school, became a physician, and then became a Priest. In fact, the order of St. Camillus, which is dedicated to ministering to the poor and sick. In fact, 25 of its 1,200 members worldwide have medical degrees. The that I am speaking of is Father Scott Binet. An article about him can be found at the following location




Same things with nuns.

I know a lot of nuns who when it comes to intellect are what you call high powered.


A vocation is from God. How can it be a waste?


“You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor. Then come follow me.”

We could have had a 13th apostle. Instead we don’t even know the guy’s name.


Not everyone stays in a career path for life. I think it’s good to bring what you have learned in one role to a completely different one and some of the most interesting priests I’ve met have become priests after another career.


I know a priest from the Congo who has been training to be a physician. His religious order sent him to the US to obtain a medical degree so that he can serve the poor in the Congo.

He completed a pre-med course here in Detroit at the University of Detroit under a full scholarship.

He got his M.D. St. Louis, under a scholarship from both the Church and the University.

He is currently working on a residency in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins (they are the medical center that worked with the US Ebola cases). The offered him the Residency so that there might be some advanced Ebola knowledge available in the Congo in case of the next outbreak

So no, a calling to the Sacerdotal priesthood, and the medical profession are NOT mutually exclusive.


Oh my gosh I think I know of this guy…


What an inspiring story!


You’re right, but Medicine is different from other careers in that it is a way of no return - either you keep going on the path or leave it for good. At least I am skeptical of the possibility that a priest who was a former doctor could still renew his license annually by passing those CME (continuous medical education) requirements or basic infection control refresher courses - or those N95 qualitative mask fitness tests. And once a doctor leaves the ward for some time his skills begin to rust. In particular, this decision to let go of Medicine would be the hardest for a seminarian who is still discerning at the seminary - so in case one day he suddenly found that he did not have a Vocation and decided to leave the seminary there’s no way he could make a living.


A few people come to mind. Without doubt, St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John Bosco.
St Alphonsus could have been an amazing lawyer, and was one, but literally gave it all up to be a priest and surrender to God.
St Francis de Sales was similar, they both became extremely holy, and both are among my favorite saints.
St John Bosco could have been a great author, but used his literary genius to write spiritual pamphlets devote his time to his Oratory.

All were ordained, all were extremely smart, all are considered to be among the holiest people in history, no exaggeration.

To the world, they were wasted talent, who could have been great minds, but they knew better. Now they have infinite riches, beholding God in heaven.
Even on earth today, their relics are treated so reverently. Had they become great men of their time, they would have been remembered and forgotten, but even the world venerates the remains of their lives on earth.


This is what St Gabriel of our Lady of Sorrows heard, when he was hesitant to become a religious:

“Why! thou art not made for the world! What art thou doing in the world? Hasten, become a religious!”

^^Not to mention St. Gabriel was a very smart person and became a religious
read the short article here:


St Aloysius Gonzaga was a noble man and an heir who gave it all away to enter the Jesuits.

To be honest, why shouldn’t a smart person be a priest? If he can be a doctor or lawyer, why not a priest? Its like how people say that a girl is “too pretty” to be a nun. Why not dedicate it all to God’s service? Yes we can serve God in a career or marriage too but if a person is called, they should go.


A true vocation is the capacity to throw away the best of what you have including all your God given talents for the sake of Him - and so in your nothingness God can simply embrace you.

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