Priesthood causing more problems in the Family and Career path?


Hello! First post here. I could definitely use much prayer and fresh opinions. But Ok lets go…

July 1st, 2013 marks the day I first discerned God’s call for me to possibility pursue Priesthood. One year and a half later, I am 19 years old and I am more than certain God is calling me to the Priesthood. It was not an easy one year and a half of discernment. It took a lot of time, effort, and personal experience for me to come to a conclusion - which is this: The question no longer is “If I will join the seminary?” but rather “when and where am I joining the seminary?”

And the root of my problem is my College Career and finance. So my Parents aren’t too thrilled to know that I’m seriously discerning the Priesthood. The same biological parents that raised me to be cradle Catholic did not expect/prepare for their son to strongly consider the Priesthood. But rather, they have a mentality that is set on one goal - which is for me to invest in a career that promises wealth and security. I am currently a Sophomore at a secular 4-year College University. Had I known I wanted to pursue my calling to the Priesthood, I wouldn’t be attending the school I am currently enrolled in now. But through the way God’s timing works, He has called me to be at the school that I am now, for reasons which are totally understood by God. But of course attending the College that I am at, it bears its fruit.

So originally and ideally, I was suppose to Major in Computer Science B.S. Pay off my college debt with the many job opportunities my degree will give me. And if God so wills me to join the seminary, I would be able to do so, debt free. Unfortunately, the reality is this. I recently came to the painful realization that CompSci has never been a passion of mine to begin with. I find it very interesting and rewarding hard work. But I would prefer to study something that is inspiring to me and something I can take with me to the Priesthood. More specifically, Cognitive Science, which is the study of the mind, with an emphasis on Philosophy (That, I feel more passionate towards). But with CompSci, I simply don’t have that kind of drive to learn how to code in my free time. The way I enjoy my free time is going to Adoration, Daily Mass, reading Catholic Books, and living and sharing my faith life with others! And staring at a computer screen for 3 to 8 hours a day coding is not cutting it for me. The world of CompSci, video games, and coding is now something I have a low tolerance for and its not who God created me to be. I enjoy learning more about my faith, asking the bigger questions in life, and use what I have learned and experience to help others become a better version of themselves and ultimately get to heaven.

Here comes the conflict. With prayer and discernment, I had already enrolled in the classes needed to switch my Major from CompSci to Cognitive Science. (But its not too late to switch back) Knowing what I want to Major in is important to know as soon as possible because I also need to be able declare my Major by the end of my Sophomore year. But back to finance - CompSci promises many job opportunities, wealth, and security. Which is what my parent support 200% - just in case “I change my mind about the Priesthood” - I would still have a very well paying job. The difficult part is this, my parents are struggling big time financially. Grants and scholarships are very hard to come by for us. We don’t qualify for too many of them. So financially, or the lack of having financial stability, it has caused much hardship, confusion and frustration within my family, my understanding of God’s will for me, and how must I pursue my Vocation. And so here are my options presented to me by my Mother:

  1. Persevere in getting a CompSci B.S. Degree = promises wealth and security. For my parents, it’s definitely a huge burden on them financially, but it is worth the financial sacrifice, just so I have the opportunity to thrive in this society. Which I appreciate and thank my parents for.
    My issue: It’s not my passion, it could compromise my faith life (e.g. coordinating my College Catholic Newman Club), and it will be hard to take what I study with me to the Priesthood.

  2. Transfer to a Community College or the 4-year University close by from where I live and study anything I want- so my parents wouldn’t have to pay for housing, utilities, and food - which add up to be $700 a month (which is what I am paying now) AND we still need to pay for tuition.
    The Issue: I have to make that rash decision soon so I can apply.

  3. Drop out of College now, my Parents will put all my debt in their name, making me debt free, and join the Religious Order close by from where I live. (A solid Religious Order I am actually looking into, but not 100% sure).
    My issue: I’m still not certain if I am called to Religious life or Diocesan. I still need to discern where.

Then this is what my game plan:

  1. Trust everything, totally to Jesus and Mary. Hope for a Miracle. Divine Providence. Anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, I love where I live, and the many sacrifices my parents made for me, but I also love our Lord. A kind of love that has led me to reckless trust in the Lord that He will provide a way out. As far as academics, time is running out and I have to be able to make a decision soon. All I desire is the will of God. And if His will is for me to graduate with a B.S. In CompSci, so be it, I will offer up to the Lord the many late nights I will be up coding , for the conversions of souls. Other wise, I turn to you for any sense of help or spiritual direction. And no I do not have a Spiritual Director, I haven’t been able to find one yet. But thank you so much for your prayers, taking the time to read this, and anything that our Lord has inspired you to contribute to this rather confusing situation I am currently in right now.

Thanks and God Bless!


Ryan T.


The only certainty here is that you have to be debt free to enter most seminaries. But if you are ever going to be a priest it is best to start now. But you need to go over all this with a priest who should be able to give some guidance.



Ryan, welcome to the forums. :cool:

I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Computer Science, and I can tell you it (generally) does not promise wealth AND security (unless you’re working at a top company, which would require a masters degree these days). It promises wealth with little security (due to always having to learn, on your free time, the latest programming language or buzzword [e.g. “The Cloud”, “Web 2.0”, “HTML5”, etc.]), OR security with little wealth (small companies where nobody bothers to document or ensure overlap).

Hard to take what you study with you to the priesthood? Perhaps… But you have to remember Computer Science, at its core, is really just applied Information Sciences (Library Sciences are also applied Information Sciences), itself a form of applied Mathematics, itself a Philosophy. Who’s to say that perhaps you wouldn’t need to digitize a parish’s records, or perhaps find a way to store them more efficiently? Not only that, but Programmers are in the business of solving problems, similar to Engineers (except Programmers aren’t exactly limited by the same rules an Engineer might be), and I think anyone could tell you running a parish involves solving problems for many different people.

If you are going to stay in college (which, frankly, I would encourage), I would stick with Computer Science. It’s more marketable, especially if (and don’t discount it) you find that, in fact, you are not being called to the priesthood. All of us in the seminary are still discerning, and until either there’s a ring on your finger, or your nose hits the marble, you will be discerning as well. :smiley:

At worst case, fixing computers for the seminarians and clergy are great ways to get to know people. :thumbsup:


From what I’ve heard, people generally discourage putting one’s vocation off for too long. If I were you, I would talk to the vocation director for your diocese about what he thinks you should do. He’ll also be able to answer questions regarding debt and entering the seminary.

It may be that you have to pay off your college debt before entering. If that is the case you have a lot to consider. Is it better to leave college now and starting working to pay of your debt. Also you could fundraise/ use organizations that help individuals pay off their debt so that they can pursue priestly vocations. It seems to me that if you stay in college you will only accumulate more debt and then have to postpone your vocation even longer as you work to pay it off. :shrug:

It really just depends on the situation and how sure you are about entering seminary. If God is calling you now, then now is the only appropriate time to respond.

I’ll keep you in my prayers


Contact the Vocations Director for your diocese or the religious order you are interested in. If accepted, they may pay for your undergraduate degree in philosophy which you will need prior to entering a Theology program.


You do not need a BA in Philosophy to enter a Theology program, one is only required 30 credit hours (i.e. 10 courses) of philosophy & 12 credit hours (i.e. 4 courses) of theology (which, in practice, is rather loosely understood in the United States as has been my experience).

From the Program for Priestly Formation (5th Edition):

  1. Theologates must require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution. Sufficient education in philosophy, which the Code of Canon Law states as a biennium, is understood in the United States to be at least 30 semester credit hours, plus the out-of-classroom work associated with each credit hour traditionally expected in American higher education. A minimum of 12 semester credit hours is required in appropriate courses of undergraduate theology. (The content of such courses is outlined in norms 178 and 179 under “Intellectual Formation—College Seminaries: Norms.”)

Furthermore, many major seminaries include this in what they call a “Pre-Theology” program, while religious orders tend to include this (along with any other requirements) in their “Postulancy” period, which (usually) takes place before the Novitiate.

Generally speaking, in both cases, associated costs are differed until the seminarian either leaves or is ordained (in which case, the diocese/order picks up the relevant costs).


You don’t need a degree in Philosophy, but the number of hours that is required you may as well get the degree, ship the pre-theology program and go into the theology program. It’s a time and money-saver.


Not if you already have a degree or have been working towards one. As OP is a sophomore halfway through the year, it would be silly to change now, from a time standpoint. Also, if he is going to finish college regardless, it is more prudent to have a degree in something one can hold a job in.

Furthermore, it is not a money-saver, unless you’re somehow able to transfer into a college-seminary program where they pick up the costs. Even with that, you’re left with the sunk-costs of two years of college, regardless. On the other hand, Pre-Theology is usually part of the seminary formation program, and thus cost-deferred (and often picked up upon ordination); it also is more favorably looked upon as the Philosophy is (supposed to be) taught in service of Theology.


We shall just have to agree to disagree.


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