Too intellectual priest (and qualities to be a priest)


Would someone who is too intellectual (not totally unsociable but sometimes finds it hard to start conversations with unfamiliar people) be called to priesthood?

Can priests study or read after they are ordained?

For instance, can priests keep on studying Latin and Greek (aka Classics), History, Philosophy (not only Classical and Scholastic but also modern or Chinese/Indian Philosophy) and Theology or even read Literature (e.g. novels by Charles Dickens) once ordained?

Could people who are not tall, handsome or charismatic become priests?


Don’t need to be Catholic to know the answer to all of those questions is yes. There are no beauty requirements to be a priest. There are no restrictions on priests being able to learn and or study. In fact many priests are not just priests but also professors, philosophers and scholars so of course they read and study. I’ve know Catholic priests who study Mandarin, Latin, Spanish. Who teach and study literary classics. I’ve known priests who teach and study philosophy, math, science.

My question is what have you been reading or studying that would lead you to believe priests wouldn’t be able to read or study? Or that they had to be somehow charasmatic, handsome and tall?


First off, a lot of priests are incredibly average in appearance. That really isn’t a factor.

You might consider the wide range of priestly roles, some of which favor people like you who are more intellectual and not very outgoing. The Jesuits, for example, run 28 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone and lots of high schools, for example. Most Jesuits obtain advanced degrees (masters and doctorates) in a variety of subjects in addition to philosophy and theology. I studied at Boston College where several of the faculty in philosophy and theology (to say nothing of law, biology, etc.) were Jesuit priests.

I suggest looking at a variety of religious orders in addition to diocesan priesthood. Benedictines, Carmelites, and other orders may welcome someone like you, even if you wonder whether you are a good fit for the diocesan priesthood. For a reader like yourself, just getting acquainted with the various religious orders should be an enjoyable pursuit.

Best of luck and God bless.


Still, being a severe introvert - verging on something like a personality disorder - would seem to present some red flags to a vocation director for a diocese. A vocation to a teaching order might be indicated. A priest can clearly read what he chooses in his spare time, but if he’s in a parish, reading Chinese philosophy needs to take second place to ongoing formation in ministry - especially preaching and homiletics.


In my personal opinion and ignorance, if a priest has a strong mind that won’t waver and is very intellectual, he should consider becoming an exorcist priest.


Just a cursory glance at past and present Jesuits would support that just from one sorce. A Pope, mechanics, doctors, professors on and on


I don’t see any reason why not.

I know a priest who is very intellectual. He is able to start conversations with others and is very well versed in many things (not just Catholicism). It is pretty obvious that he is well read. He is very conservative.

He is above average in appearance (IMO). From what I see, he is well liked by a number of people, myself included.

OTOH, there is another priest I know who may not be as intellectual as the first priest I mentioned, but is less conservative and more outgoing than the first. I think both are good priests, but I prefer the first priest over the second, for many personal reasons.

However, appearance and those sorts of things are not things that I would think that would keep a man from becoming a priest.


While an alpha-male embodiment can be a great advantage in being a priest, it is in no way a requirement to ordination.

Affable personality and even preaching voice and ability likewise. We have all known priests who are not alpha-males, do not have a commanding appearance, are not particularly amicable, or who cannot preach well or in a good voice. But they can offer the Holy Sacrifice, and that is finally what matters.

The only thing limiting an ordinand’s further studies would be the time and stamina he had available, as in any other walk of life.



Also meant to say that the first priest is a much better confessor than the second priest. The first priest makes you think and takes his time. The second priest it is more of the mind of,‘here are my sins, Act of Contrition, Absolution’ and out the confessional door. For some that may be good, but I prefer a priest that is going to make me think.


Yes, the Jesuits and Dominicans are intellectuals and fine preachers. We had a parish priest who would travel with St. John Paul II and interview him when he was in the USA. This priest was quiet and intellectual but he got along with the parishioners fine.

There room in the harvest for all types.


If a priest is not sporty, cannot sing well, and is not always firm enough in giving sound advice, would it be a mistake for God to have chosen him? I mean - the ‘mistake’ part is not how the laity judge him but it is more like a self-conceived judgement.


Don’t see why it would have been a mistake for God to choose him. The priesthood is more than being sporty, singing or giving firm advice.


anonymous1995 - If you are thinking of entering seminary, just go for it. Starting thread after thread will not make anxieties go away.

Have a good day.



Thank you very much for your encouragement. I’ve actually seen my spiritual director (a parish priest) and has set forth a practical prayer plan. Right now perhaps I just have to wait. But then I still lack trust in God, so I sincerely ask for your prayers. May God overcome my anxiety (which would definitely escalate when it comes to a point for real action) to hand over myself to whatever Callings He has in mind.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit