Screening Question

I’ve often wondered, what is the screening process for the priesthood and/or religious life like? I’ve read on other threads that they do not accept people who have a history of mental illness. I can understand major psychological problems, but does this include things like a past history of depression (taking SSRI’s) as well? I’m just wondering. Thanks! :cool:

Madaglan, religious life isn’t easy and involves a lot more challenges than some expect, so that the testing has to be rigorous.

Some thoughts here:

Canon Law

Thanks for the links. The last one I think needs an f at the beginning to work:

I happened to be watching EWTN, and it was mentioned that the founder of the Holy Ghost Fathers had some kind of mental illness (epilepsy?). I thought it was interesting.

Technically epilepsy is a physical illness and not a mental illness.

In my experience, yes. I discerned for almost 3 years before deciding to end my discernment in August this year. The reason I decided to stop was because I have had a long history of depression and I have to be on anti-depressant medication for probably the rest of my life. I was off of it for about a year and a half and thought that this would make my chances of getting into a religious order better, but all the ones I talked to had a problem even with my history. I really believe that I did not have a religious vocation all along because at every turn, there was always something that barred me from continuing. I had applied with a community of active/contemplative Carmelites and thought that was my home. They had no problem with my past history, nor did they mind if medication needed to be continued while in religious life. But an experience there changed my mind and I knew that order was not where I belonged because their apostolate was too challenging for me and I couldn’t handle the stress. After ending my job this past July, I had to go back on my medication, but I decided that I would try to keep looking for religious orders that were accepting of my condition, but it didn’t last long. I got no positive responses. It took a while for me to understand that it was best for me to be out in the world. I have discerned that my vocation in life is to major in biology and become a wildlife conservationist and filmmaker. This is what I am most passionate about and what I feel God is calling me to. I have always had a love for animals and, since the age of 7, I’ve wanted to have a career working with them. I thought for a long time of being a veterinarian, but I really want to be a filmmaker.

The point of my post is that it is VERY difficult for those with histories of mental illnesses, and rightfully so. Religious orders want to screen out those who would present major problems to the community, whether financially, emotionally, etc. Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are not accepting of minor mental illness such as depression. My mom and I talked about this the other day and I worry about the lack of vocations because depression is becoming so widespread that pretty much everyone I know has had a problem at one time or another. :shrug:

You are right–technically it is a physical illness not a mental one. Thanks for pointing that out.

Thank you for the whole of your post. Reading it, I had to chuckle to myself because I remember at one time (6th grade) wanting to become an animal behaviorologist. I’ve since changed my direction, but I think that’s cool and I wish you good luck.

I think depression and anxiety are characteristic of the modern age. Although I don’t care much for the book (movie was good), “Prozac Nation” pretty much characterizes the state of developed nations today.

As mental illness can have biological/physiological causes which affects mental functioning. It is not the person’s mental functioning per se which is ill or unwell very often and in the majority of cases probably, rather biological or physiologcal causes in the brain affect negatively mental and/or emotional functioning. Mental illness, so called, can be in reality a physical illness.

But anyway. If God calls one to a certain vocation, then He will provide all that is necessary to fulfill that vocation. My Post here may help:

  • and do read Brother JRe’s post just prior which was far better and a most rewarding read indeed.

DaughterofMary : and I worry about the lack of vocations because depression is becoming so widespread that pretty much everyone I know has had a problem at one time or another

Try not to be overly concerned - God’s Ways are not always our ways. And God’s Direct Will or Permissive Will always applies at all times everywhere and always - His Divine Will is always guiding us either directly or permissively. Perhaps God is permitting what we call “the lack of vocations” for His Reasons and out of it will come a greater good. But if you can think of a way, even a small way, to try to address the lack of religious vocations and to the priesthood, do try to activate it but do not loose Peace of Soul.

Catholic Catechism #311 (in part)
“For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.”

You might be correct to my knowledge, however, about depression. I was reading somewhere that various strains of depression could be destined to become more common than the common cold and the major cause of LTI (lost time injury or time off work) This may be due to the fact that we live in such stressful and very often rapidly changing times and our human makeup can find it hard to cope with it daily, resulting in a certain type or strain of depression. We need to try to slow down personally and be selective insofar as we may be able and very much in line with the once bestseller “Future Shock”.


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