The purpose of a priest is to bring people to Jesus, and Jesus to people. He does this primarily by preaching the Word and offering the Sacrifice of the Mass. His daily life involves administering the sacraments — Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick and Matrimony, and caring for the people in their daily needs.
You must pray every single day, asking God to reveal His plan for you. Do not ask yourself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” This is the wrong question. Instead, think and ask, “Jesus, what do You want me to do?” and listen for the answer in your heart. The discernment process in the priesthood must also include the Church. The local bishop is the one who ultimately decides who is and who is not called. He is assisted in this by the vocation office and the seminary.
Most priests are extremely happy in their chosen vocations. The life of a priest is a very rewarding life, both in this world and in the next. The media often gives an incorrect impression of priests — that they are largely unhappy, frustrated and angry, or that most of them abuse. This is simply not true.
Loneliness is a part of every vocation, at one time or another. It is part of the human condition. Even married people get very lonely at times, even though they are surrounded by their spouses and children. Priests are always surrounded by people. This is one of the joys of being a priest. We are involved with people at the most profound moments of their lives: birth, Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, Marriage, and death. We don’t have enough time to experience loneliness often, but when we do experience that natural loneliness, Jesus fills that void, as He does for people in every vocation.
Celibacy is a normal requirement for priesthood in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, for several reasons. Practical reasons are often cited — for example, that an unmarried man can more easily dedicate himself to the work of the Church. While this is a valid reason that has roots in scripture (1 Cor 7:32-35), it is not the most important reason. More important are the spiritual realities signified by celibacy:
Celibacy marks the priest as a man consecrated to the service of Christ and the Church. It shows in a concrete way that he is not merely someone who exercises a set of functions or who holds a certain office but that he has been changed on an ontological level by his reception of the sacrament of Orders.
Celibacy configures the priest more closely to Christ, the great High Priest, who forsook earthly marriage for the sake of the Kingdom and for the sake of uniting himself more perfectly to his heavenly Bride, the Church.
It is fitting that the priest who offers this same Jesus in sacrifice to the Father, show in his own person (albeit to an imperfect degree) the purity and holiness of his unspotted Victim.
Celibacy reminds us of heaven, pointing to the coming of the Kingdom when marriage will no longer exist.
Celibacy is a supernatural call to a radical lifestyle, celibacy is always a top concern for men thinking about the priesthood: “I like girls too much to become a priest.” But rest assured every priest had the same thought before he went to seminary. Even Pope Francis himself admitted to having to discern celibacy very carefully as a young seminarian.
Celibacy isn’t about repressing your sexuality. Rather, it’s about giving up a single woman — a wife — to serve all people. Don’t let a concern about celibacy prevent you from considering the priesthood.
There are some married priests in the Catholic Church, though this is relatively rare. It is possible that the law of the Church will one day be changed for priests of the Roman Rite. If the Holy Spirit wants this change, He will affect it through the Pope and bishops of the world. However, it would be a grave mistake to go to the seminary “expecting” this change.
Because a priest does not have a family and because he lives a simple life, he does not need a lot of money. Priests do receive enough money to buy their necessities, to buy and maintain a vehicle, to take a vacation and to do normal recreational activities. Also, priests are given free room and board by the Church for which they work, so their expenses are minimal.
A diocesan priest can do anything he wants for recreation, as long as it is consistent with the Christian life. Many priests play golf, basketball, softball, scuba dive and engage in sports. Others enjoy movies, plays and reading. Some skydive. Some hunt. Some fish. Essentially, the interests of priests are as varied as the interests of the general public.
Possibly, but not necessarily. A man must pray a great deal, listening with both heart and soul to know what God wants him to do. But if you feel some attraction at this point, just continue to pray, go to Mass, and live a Christian life. If you are living a Christian life, Jesus will let you know when the time comes. Talk with your parish priest or with the vocation director. Try to come to the diocesan-sponsored retreats and discernment events. The vocation director can help you determine if God is calling you to the priesthood.
Holiness is a lifetime endeavor for every person in every vocation. Don’t worry if you don’t see yourself as very holy right now. God will form you slowly, day by day and week by week, so that you will be ready to be His instrument when the time comes. But for now, use the sacrament of Penance at least once a month, receive the sacraments and pray every day. You will be surprised at how Christ-like you can become.
It is definitely not easy. A man who wants to become a priest must go to college for four years, with at least two years of philosophy. After graduating from college, he must go to a seminary for another four years to earn a master’s degree in divinity. Most men go to school eight to 10 years after high school before they can be ordained as priests. But do not let this discourage you. Seminary is a great experience, and God always gives us the grace to do what He asks us to do.
It is very important for a priest to have a well-balanced liberal arts education as well as a deep grasp of theology and the spiritual life. Priests must be at least as well educated as the people they serve; otherwise, they will not be respected when they speak of spiritual things. Every soul is precious to God and, therefore, to the priest. A priest is called to help the most as well as the least educated to find Jesus and to attain salvation.
A good candidate is a practicing, believing Catholic. He attends Mass at least weekly, prays daily, obeys the commandments and tries to serve others. He must be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. He must be of at least average intelligence. And finally, he must be open to the will of God.
In no way. In fact, most vocation directors agree that the only way to really know that you have a vocation to the priesthood is to go to the seminary and try. It will become more and more clear to you once you are in an environment where everyone is trying to discern that same question. Many men go to the seminary, stay a year or two, and then leave. They are much better Catholics afterwards for the experience.
There is never a dull moment in the priesthood. It is a great challenge, but it is also extremely rewarding. When a priest goes to bed each night, he can say, “Lord, today I spent myself for You.” The priesthood is interesting and fulfilling because people are so interesting, but these people need more priests very badly.