I will preface this post by saying that I am only just about to be confirmed in the church on Pentecost, a little more than a week away. I also want to note that my whole life has been about discernment of my calling, and I know that I feel called to be a priest. I have been an interfaith minister, with almost no formal training but a lot of personal study and “on the job” training for about a decade prior to being called to the Roman Catholic church. I cannot express enough the strength of my calling to the church, but I know that it will probably be a few years before I can even be considered for seminary. Nonetheless, I want to make sure that I have everything in order before even approaching the time when I can be considered.
What are the celibacy requirements before entering seminary? I have been celibate, with a few self stimulation slip ups, for over twelve years, and I know that I am called to lifelong celibacy; however, there was a time when I was sexually active before this last twelve years. I have not sired any children. Does a priest have to have been celibate from birth, or am I alright as far as that goes?
I am 42. I specifically feel called to the Franciscan order. Are there prior educational requirements? I have 60 units of accredited college credits, but no degree. The secretary at my parish was saying that they used to have seminary there at the Mission, and that they required candidates to have a secular college degree first. If that is required, I am heartbroken. I cannot get a secular college degree because of issues with advanced math classes (algebra and above. ) I think that I could theoretically get an associate degree because I have the units and have met all of the requirements except for a couple. All of the protestant seminaries require a bachelor’s degree from another school before entering, and that is the only reason I have not previously gone to seminary. Do I need a college degree first?
Will my age, the osteoarthritis in my back, and the seizures I have (not life threatening, rare, but can’t be controlled with medication) be too much of an impediment?
If any of these things will stop me from answering the strong call I feel for this vocation, are there other vocational options for me? I am too old for most monasteries. I’m not sure about the diaconate, mainly because I don’t know much about it. I plan on immersing myself in as much lay ministry as possible after my confirmation (I’m already in the choir, and I have already talked to various people in the parish about other ways I can serve right away.) If lay ministry is the only way I can serve, I will still do whatever service I can. It’s not about me and what I want, rather it is all about where and how God wants me to serve.
I do not yet have a spiritual director, mainly because I don’t know who to ask and I only know a dozen or so Catholics right now (mostly in my parish. ) I am making it a priority to seek one, and I am sure that God will lead me to the right person. I continue to keep it in prayer.
Thank you for your time and effort in reading this post and for any help you can provide for my questions. God bless.