Priestly vocation but want to date girl


I tried reading through the forums to see if anything similar to this had been posted but I didn’t find anything. Hopefully someone here can give some advice. Lots of backstory will lead up to my end question.

I am 21 years old - just ended my junior year of college and will be graduating next spring

The summer after graduating HS I had two experiences in adoration where I said “I am going to be a priest some day”. This was a very haunting thought that slid me into a depression that eventually lifted when I was advised by priests that I don’t have to make a decision right now and it would be good to continue praying and discerning.

The last two summers I have worked as a missionary serving Catholic teens from around the country. I lived in community and followed a life of daily prayer. These experiences were incredibly fruitful to my relationship with Christ and allowed me to experience a life focused wholly on Christ. The first summer I came home saying “I am going to be a priest”, but was again advised that haste is not necessary and it would be better to wait till graduation. In my spiritual directors words, “God doesn’t work on deadlines, he will take you when he needs you and you are ready.”

I entered that year more sure of my call and sought out orders and religious to talk to. I refrained from dating and tried to picture myself in a priestly vocation. It brought me joy although much apprehension and internal push back. I went on a “seminary sprint” eager to learn about orders, but had a profoundly disappointing experience. Every place we visited I felt “wrong” and no attraction. I actually felt myself revolting and strongly rejecting the idea of religious life. It seemed too disconnected from everyday world and ineffective at dealing with what people are dealing with and struggling through. This trip left me incredibly confused and again worried.

The feeling in the back of my mind has never left though and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being called to priestly life of some sort. I just cannot picture myself being married. Much of this is for very practical reasons. Things like attending kids’ basketball games, mowing the lawn, hosting family parties, watching TV, going to parents night at school, working a “normal job” all seem like wastes of time. They seem to me just distractions from living for God.

Here’s where life gets interesting. In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself increasingly attracted to a female friend. We spent time together this semester working on activities at our parish and had a fun time interacting. We began to talk more and I found myself wanting to ask her on a date. I asked two priests and both said, “Sure, go for it. It’s fine to have female friends and it’ll just let you know what you might be missing out on.”

So we went on a date and had a great time. I loved talking to her and just getting to know her. At the end of the first date I made sure to say “I just want you to know I’m not sure if called to marriage and think priesthood is a possibility. Are you ok with still spending time together and getting to know each other.” She was slightly taken back, but said that was ok as long as I’m not leading her on.

Since then we’ve continued to talk more and more. We talk to each other on the phone frequently and have been on two more dates. I find myself loving her company and desiring to spend more time with her. I’m joyful and love having someone to talk to and share experiences with. Despite all of this, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I can’t shake this feeling that I’m making a mistake and harming my future. I’m happy when with her but in between I feel anxious and worried that I’m making a mistake.

Can anyone give me advice?

I feel a call to the priesthood. It wanes and grows stronger but has been relatively consistent for 3 years. Despite this, I’m very attracted to a girl and love spending time with her. I would say I strongly desire a wife but am not sure I would be happy with all the trappings of a secular life. Am I wrong to continue dating her?


The thought of becoming a priest “slid you into a depression?”


You haven’t made a decision, if knew you were going to become a priest then it would be wrong. From what you said, you seem to want parts of both lifes. I think you need to come to terms with the fact both have their difficulties, stop worrying, you need some grounding. Don’t rush into making a decision unless your sure, the consequences could be bad. Also, think about what is best for this girl aswell as yourself.


Perhaps you should discern the Diaconate? I originally thought the Priesthood was for me. I felt called to serve the Church in an official way. I didn’t want the trappings of a secular life (though as a Permanent Deacon I can’t really escape that lol) but at the same time, I struggled as I couldn’t imagine giving up a wife and children some day. I felt so strongly called to serve the Church but also to have a family. I only ever focused on the Priesthood and it caused me great turmoil as I felt I would be disappointed if I chose one over the other. And being latin rite, I couldn’t exactly just change rites so I could do both. Ultimately I chose to walk away from the Priesthood as discerning it did not bring me peace or certainty, and I started dating my girlfriend now of 6 months. I still feel called to serve the Church and am considering the Diaconate. As I hope to marry my girlfriend someday, I will have to wait until I’m 35 (I’m 25 now) to go to Seminary anyways, so I have a decade to discern my vocation properly with a spiritual and vocations director and see just where God is calling me in His Church. Deacon or not, I think I am definitely going for the Franciscan Secular Third Order. Franciscan Spirituality ftw! :thumbsup:



You describe both parts of your possible future, the secular and the priesthood, as something of equal worth for your spiritual life. I think there are two possibilities of a solution- 1. It is a question of time until one side will become stronger and stronger in you, 2. There will never be a strong tendence to one side , so you will think of a way of life wich offers you a synthesis of both.
It is very caring that you´ve already told that girl that you are maybe not called to marriage- but keep in mind that accepting this in a friendship is one and handling the own feelings is another topic. It is normal that romantic feelings grow during a longer dating period, so be fair and don´t bring a girls in such a situation even if she tells you that she can handle your indecision.
Have you ever thougt about alternatives to priesthood wich allows you to get married? Maybe for example a life as a deacon? Or a job wich offers you the possibility to work in close contact for the church, especially because you said that you have already experience with youth work?
There can be much time for spirituality in our daily life when we organise it right. Of course, a classic 9 to 5 job donßt give you that muh space as priesthood, but keep in mind that there is a middle way.
Maybe it would be helpful for you to talk with a priest about possible alternatives…

Have a nice day,


No, of course you’re not wrong to date her; you’re not a priest yet. Dating her might help you decide better what direction your life should take.

The priesthood slid you into a depression which might be a red flag.

It sounds as if your advice has been “no need to rush it” in priestly terms.

Enjoy yourself dating for a while and you might discern then what’s best for you.
At least you won’t regret some day a lost opportunity.

All options may have drawbacks…and joys of course :slight_smile:
God bless.


Well The Lord our God works in mysterious ways, and Finding God in everyday life is equally essential.

If God has willed, that you become a Priest, then you surely will. I see no harm if you date a Girl and tell her about God’s Love and his sacrifice.

Who knows that the very conversation would make your will to become a priest more stronger. If God has willed you to marry then you will.

Everything has a time, If you feel attracted towards a girl, then go ahead and talk to her, Share your thoughts, feelings and the divine Love that connects us all.


This is all part of the discernment process.

When you “Date” or “Court” a woman you are discerning the possibility of spending your life in sacred vows to live a married life together. In that Vocation you serve each other, and particpate in The Lords Creation, but bringing new children into the His world, and raising them as Christians.

When you visit a religious order o secular seminary as a man considering an ordained vocation you are discerning the possibility of spending your life in sacred vows to the order or to your bishop, and serving the Church. In that vocation you bring the Sacraments and the Word of God to the members of His Church.

In both vocations you are responsible to Charity and Evangelisation.

As a young many you need to be sure of your calling before taking permanent vows. Marriage, Holy Orders (Ordination), and Religious Vows (the vows of Poverty Chastity and Obedience taken when joining a religious Order) are PERMINANT decisions. They cannot be revoked or changed at a later date.

I have heard of many Directors of Vocations who PREFER aspiring candidates to have dated before they enter a Seminary or Novitiate program as that way they know what thy are passing up on.

The role of a Priest is not to be a Eunuch, or an a-sexual person with no sexual desires towards other people. A Eunuch is prohibited from receiving Holy Orders (Ordination).

Rather the discipline of Celibacy, or the Vow of Chastity, is a very real sacrifice made by the man entering the celibate Life, and made possible by the Grace of God.

Questions for your discernment:
A Christian Marriage requires you are Open to New Life. It’s not about the romantic feelings that Hollywood call “Love”. It’s about devoting yourself to “Love Honour and Serve” every day of your life, forsaking all others, till death do you part.
That also includes being devoted to your Children, both those already brn and those the Lord has yet to send you, and being open to recieve those blessings, desiring them, and praying for them to be sent.

If you don’t see yourself as a “Daddy” (as opposed to being “Fr. Colb_Slaw”), then that’s the biggest indicator that Christian Marriage may not be your Vocation, and other options should be considered. - especially if that lack of desire does not come from a selfish source.

It does sound like you greatly desire the Idea of the Priesthood, but dont have a clear idea of what spirituality you want to pursue.

So ask yourself these questions?

Do you want to work in a parish, as a parish priest, responsible for (or sharing responsibility for) a flock of one geographic parsh?
Do you want to work in a Chaplaincy like a University, the Military, a Hospital or some similar special environment which needs a specialist, dedicated priest?

While some religious orders do work in these types of Parish and Chaplaincy missions, most of these jobs are taken by Diocessan (Secular) Priests. They report directly to the Local Bishop. They are probably the type of Priest you are most familiar with.

Do you want to dedicate your life to a cloistered, contemplative life dedicated to Prayer - in an enclosed community, where you serve your fellow man by praying for him Day an Night?
This is the role of a Brother in a traditional Religious Order, like the Trappists, the Benedictines, the Carmalites, and many others. - there are also Hermits who do this in isolation, without a community around them, they are normaly linked to some order in some way.

Do you want to dedicate yourself to a Life of practical charitable service to your fellow man? there are many orders of Brothers, like the Elesian (spelt wrong I’m sure) brothers, the De La Salle brothers the Christian Brothers, The Fransiscans, and many many others,

Then there’s missionary and Preaching orders like the Dominicans (The Order of Preachers), the Mill Hill Missionaries (the Redemptorist’s) and many others like them who’s mission is direct preaching of the Gospel, and Evangelisation.

You need to ask yourself what type of ordained life it is that you want.
You DONT need to look at a bunch of seminaries and think “where do I want to Study” — Oh that university looks nice, lets see what jobs they’ll train me for - that’s the wrong way around

You decide: “I want to be a Lawyer / Doctor / Engineer / Nurse etc”… then you look for the best university you can get into that will train you for that job.

So in your Vocation, If you want to be a Diocessan (Secular) priest, linked to your Home Dioceses then you need to ask your local bishop to send you to the Seminary He chooses.

If you want to join the Capuchin Friars of the Renewal (that’s the Charismatic Franciscan community that Fr. Stan Fortuna is one of the founding members of) then you will needto join their Novitiate program in the Bronxs in New York, and work with the deprived kids in that area… If they decide you are to study to be a priest they’ll train you up in their chosen seminary…

Ditto for any other order.

But the choice should be based on the Type of Priest you want to be: The order who’s Mission, Spirituality and Charism reflect the life you feel called to (or your local diocese).

If you feel called to join a particular Order, (Or particular branch of an order like the Franciscans, of who there are many branches), that should be based on the witness of the members of tat order you have met, the mission they share, and the spirituality and Rule by which they live. - That choice will then dictate the University and seminary program where you will study.


yeah, that stands out doesn’t it


This could mean two things. 1. You are afraid of responsibility and do not want to do the grey unglamorous tasks inlife. It is however important to point out that you may have to mow the lawn and host parties as a Priest also. 2. You are in fact called to become something greater and the modern bourgeoisie type of life is not for you… But on the other hand - is it for any Catholic, married or not?

I would however like to point out that you are still young and that you do not have to (and should not!) make a decision just yet.

Also, and probably most importantly: Do you pray enough and do you give the angels of God a chance to speak to you?

May Jesus bless you with light from His Sacred Heart!


Have you ever spoken in depth to a Vocations Director? I think it’s time to do that. These are priests who are experienced at helping men discern their vocation. They provide guidance and advice. Call your Diocese and get an appointment ASAP.


well I have a solution if I were in your shoes. you can see whether that girl love Christ or not because that way you can serve Christ without obstacle. A lot of parents in my church serve and help the church side by side( husband and wife). And do you know the film sound of music? that film is when Maria believe that she was called to be a nun but in the end she fell in love with a man and she asked to the older nuns whether it is sin or not to fall in love while want to serve Him but in older nuns said it was okay and she finally got married with the man she loved. Maybe God has different plans for you.

But as I say you can see whether that girl loves Christ also. Because if she loves Christ just as you do, it will be much easier to serve Christ and it might be better because you will have someone support in everything you do.

About kids, you do not need to worry about that yet. If you are afraid that it will bother your life purpose(which is glorifying God) you can choose to not have kids. But first, you need to ask God in prayer so He might reveal His way for you.

For me, If I ever get married:p, and I need to have kids, I will ask God to give me kids that will serve Him and be just like Hana gave Samuel to God in 1 Samuel 1 . I want to give my children to God and I want them to serve Him just like I wanted them.:smiley:

What do you think?:slight_smile:


You have talked with your spiritual director and several priests. I don’t think we’re likely to give you better advice than they. :wink:

You’re just in that transitory part of your life right now. It’s okay to be uncertain at this point. Just take things one day at a time and one step at a time. Above all, keep praying and keep going to spiritual direction. That’s what is going to do the most to make things clearer for you as time goes on.

To me, that you had a bad experience checking out religious orders only means that the particular religious orders you looked at may not be for you. It sounds like you’re more looking for active rather than contemplative. :wink:

As for the girl, again, just take it one step at a time. Any dating relationship is not going to start out with a firm commitment. It would be problematic if it did. Even if you weren’t discerning a priestly vocation, you could just as easily end up breaking up with her and marrying someone else.

I know plenty of guys who dated and eventually went to seminary. I know plenty of guys who started out in seminary and ended up getting married. Again, keep praying, keep seeking the counsel of wise priests, and take things one step at a time. Things will get clearer eventually.


Hey friends. I’ve been out of town and just got back to check on this. Thank you so much for the numerous responses. I was not expecting this much. I just want to respond to a few comments.

The thought of becoming a priest “slid you into a depression?”

This does require some clarification. On my seminary visits I had a particularly strong and simultaneously negative reaction when speaking to a Trappist brother. Halfway through the conversation I became absolutely convinced that God was calling me to live that life and it truly did lead to depression. His words echoed in my head for months and sent me into PTSD type reactions. Any time words like “priest”, “silence”, “quiet”, “monk”, “habit”, etc. were mentioned, I would have terrible flashbacks to that conversations and just mentally shut down. I constantly felt like “I’m not supposed to be here. What I’m doing right now is wrong. I need to be in a monastery.” I was incredibly disengaged from the world around me. Priests all told me that was not God acting but I couldn’t stop the thoughts. I met with a counselor multiple times and this helped. I actually ended up revisiting the monastery because I just couldn’t let it go. On the second visit the brother said that 1) I can’t join because the order is not taking new members and 2) it really sounds like I am being called to an active priesthood. A year later I still struggle with thoughts that “I’m not supposed to be here”, but this has toned down considerably. It’s actually something I pray about often and speak about often in spiritual direction.

I’ve been “recovering” from the experience for the past year and am now starting to have positive thoughts about priesthood return.

I would however like to point out that you are still young and that you do not have to (and should not!) make a decision just yet.

I think this ultimately is the crux of my confusion. I’m being told by everyone that I don’t need to rush, I’ll eventually get where I’m going, etc. But most discernment books I’ve read, specifically To Save A Thousand Souls, say that if you’ve considered priesthood for a long time and feel a draw you eventually need to decide to take action. I’ve tried to take action by speaking to people and reading and praying, and this mostly leads me to feel I’m being drawn to priesthood. I also know at some point I will have to make a decision. Graduating college seems to be a natural time (it’s a year away), but I also know that God can work on any timeline and it could be later.

All of that to say, I feel wrong entertaining the thought of serious dating when I’m also being very drawn to the priesthood. I get along with this girl very well, love talking to her, have fantastic conversations about the faith, look forward to spending time with her and I know that all of these things naturally lead to a more serious relationship with the intention of discerning marriage. At what point do I have to stop the relationship and lose someone I consider to be a great friend?


Ave Maria!

“Am I allowed to date while in the seminary?
The seminary is like the engagement period for a couple: you do not date others if you desire to create a true relationship with your intended. Likewise, to truly prepare for and discern the calling to priesthood in the seminary, you should not be dating.*” **-From the Celibacy FAQ at the diocese of Bridgeport.

**“My first advice is that if the young man wants to discern priesthood, then he cannot date, because you cannot “date” two women at the same time, i.e, both the girl and the priesthood. He must make a choice of which one to discern—priesthood or marriage.” **-from a priest from the diocese of La Crosse.

Consecrate yourself to Our Lady, and put your vocation in Her most loving hands. She, who raised our great High Priest, can certainly form you into Him, to become “alter Christus” (another Christ), or even a holy husband and father.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us! Ave Maria!

fra John Paul


You want my two cents, as someone who recently decided to forego the seminary in favor of secular graduate school? The best advice I received came from a non-practicing friend. She said, “What does your heart tell you?” It’s that simple. If you feel a duty or an obligation to “discern” the priesthood, but what you want to do is be with this girl, you have to make sure that you’re not abandoning your soulmate in favor of a theory. That is, you want to make sure you’re not “discerning” because of all the high-flying rhetoric we hear about Vocations; you want to make sure that the greatest joy of your life will be found in the priesthood.

What I’m saying is that ultimately, you want to make sure that you’re not becoming a priest because you’ve had an “experience” or because you feel its your duty to go to the seminary. I was in the same boat. I realized there was this attraction to the idea of priesthood; but my heart wasn’t in the priesthood. It’s just a theory, an abstraction, until you’re in the seminary. Right now you have a woman right in front of you, who you very well may feel the first stirrings of love for. God created human love, just as He ordains priests. Just remember that God leads us through our hearts. There’s no shame in realizing this.

Yes, there’s a point at which you have to take a decisive step. Choosing to pursue a girl is a big step, which could fill your life with joy forever. I have the utmost respect for the priesthood; it is a truly divine calling. But so are love and marriage.

Follow your heart. It won’t let you down. And trust in God: He directs your heart.

I’m praying for you two! :thumbsup:


All I can do is echo the previous sentiments stated. Keep praying, and pursue the Lord first and foremost. If things are meant to happen between you and this young lady, they’ll happen, Lord willing.

Also in order to prevent any heartbreaking, be sure to be emotionally chaste in your interactions with your friend. From what I’ve heard women don’t take the “I’m entering the Seminary” too well most of the time — though that’s not always the case.

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