Severe Depression and Priesthood

Hi all,
I am having somewhat of a diifficult time in finding out God’s will for me, but this question might point me in a direction. I have a subtle desire to find out more about becoming a priest, but I have a history of suicidal behavior. I pray to God, and I get mixed and confusing messages. Basically, I am asking if the history of suicidal behavior would be a major impediment to a vocation.
God Bless

P.S.-I had a nervous breakdown and tried to hurt myself twice last night partially because of this.

Yes, it would be a major impediment. Priests must be of sound, stable mind, and suicidal behavior is indicative of the opposite. I hope you’re seeing someone about this.

There are some major factors to conisder. I don’t know much about impediments to the priesthood. But if you are young and in High School, you could possibly grow out of it.

I would talk to a spiritual director, because even if you aren’t considering priesthood you need to talk to someone about this.

If this is something you can’t control or grow out of, priesthood may not be for you. There are going to be some stressfull times that you will have to deal with.

Thanks for responding. I am 21 right now and about to finish college. I have had suicidal episodes since I was 13. I was on medication ,but went off it. I did not have any episodes for over a year, but it came back sporadically. I am also engaged, which may factor in to things as well.

With your suicidal behavior, I odoubt if any Diocese would accept you, It is because the priesthood is very demanding and you would have an IMPEDIMENT and if you were ordained., your faculties would be INVALID and ILLICIT. I would just concentyrate o your berhavior and forghet about the priesthood.



That isn’t a good summary of the relevant canon law; but because we’re trying to help the person who began this thread rather than compare our understandings of the law, let’s guillotine any analysis of that for now.

I agree with you that a chronic, severe and still current mental disorder will be an impediment to ordination; and is also a likely reason for being turned down for priestly formation. Past mental disorders are not an automatic bar to ordination, however.

I think for the time being that is very good advice. Being at peace with yourself, not planning the future, is the highest priority right now,

Prayers and best wishes.

Several issues here. Please consult a doctor who can help you evaluate your meds. You should not go on and off them without medical advice–just like a person with diabetes or heart trouble shouldn’t.

Also, being engaged (I assume you mean engaged to be married) is an impediment to the Latin rite priesthood. You need to sort things out one at a time and not load too much onto your plate.

Get healthy, even if that means being on maintenance prescriptions. Finish college, talk with your fiancé and see if you still plan to get married. In the course of this, you will also discover if you truly have a calling to the priesthood.

I would also recommend that you find a regular confessor. If you can get spiritual director, that would be wonderful, but in the meantime please ensure you are availing yourself of the sacraments (communion and confession) on a regular basis.

That was a bit harsh. it is so easy to just blanket state something. yes if you continue to be suicidal than perhaps you would have an impediment. I would seek healing first and foremost, not forget about priesthood but work on your current situation and get healing, then perhaps contact a vocation director. There are people that have what they desire and it is easy to cast down a blanket statement. Listen to your heart and pray seek and ask for healing. If you are called to priesthood let NO ONE ever stand in your way NO ONE!!! God bless Scoob

Good points already made. A few more/some reinforcement:
*]Are you considering the priesthood because of something that’s happening in your relationship with your fiance? A calling is not something that comes from default.
*]Do you know the source of your depression? If not, sort that out first. God will still be ready for you if he’s calling you.
*]Do you have a good therapist? If you aren’t making progress, find someone else.
*]Do you have a good confessor? If you aren’t sure, seek out someone else to see what the possibilities are. Share all you can with him or schedule additional time after confession for a counseling session.
I’m sure many of us (me included) will be praying for you.

There is another very good thread about discerning the priesthood and mental illness. Do a search. We did get a bit off topic in a few places, but the gist is that you should talk to the vocations director in your diocese. It is the church that calls men to the priesthood, so you need to follow the process put into place for that and abide by the criteria given for health, education, finances,. etc.

Being one who left the Priesthood because of severe depression, I would not even think of pursuing the priesthood unless you have a competent therapist and your depression is under control!

Unfortunately (and this is my opinion) I believe that Priesthood feeds depression. You have to deal with many depressing moments: death, illness, depressive or manic parishoners, and other difficult and tense situations. I found that being a Priest (with severe depression) was like being an Alcoholic with “free” access to alcohol. The life was just not workable for me. Thats why I believe you have to be very careful when considering this lifestyle!

I have spoken with a few vocation directors over the years who have flatly stated to me that “severe depression” would be a red flag for them, so it is quite possible (not to disappoint you) that you might not even be considered. That in itself might be depressing and so you would need to reflect on a possible negative outcome with your query!

You need to talk to a spiritual director. Your suicidal tendencies may mean that God is not calling you to the priesthood, but don’t be discouraged- God always has a plan…

This is stating the obvious, but no one else seems to have mentioned it. Make an appointment with a Psychiatrist (Medical Doctor) TODAY.

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