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 Figuring Out the Call

Did someone ever say to you, "Have you ever thought about being a priest?"  How many times have you been asked this question?  Or maybe people have said to you, "You would make an excellent priest."  It may be these interactions with other people that brought you to this website searching for ways to discern if God is calling you to the sacred ministry of priesthood.  Often men in this situation hope and pray for an angel to appear and deliver a message that God is calling you to the priesthood. All men discerning wish for this to happen, but unfortunately that is not the case.  As you wait for the angel to appear, here are some signs and discernment opportunities to look for that might indicate that God indeed is calling you to the priesthood.

 Signs of a Priestly Vocation

You have a hunger in your heart for Christ.

A candidate for the priesthood finds himself frequently thinking about Jesus and his ministry. There may be moments when your heart overflows with God's love and a deep desire to share this with others.  You desire what Christ wanted for the world: the fulfillment of the kingdom of God. You realize that God is calling you to this task.

Other people recognize your vocation and have told you about it.
God works through other people and will often use them to speak to you.  If someone has said "You really should be a priest.  I can see it in you," or perhaps, "Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?  You would make a good one." Other people can often be the first to see a priest's heart in a young man before he can call his own attention to it.

You find yourself attracted to the life and ministry of a priest.
You may find yourself attracted to a specific priest and the way he lives out his priesthood. You may find yourself attracted to the way a priest dresses in "priestly garb."  Men being called to the priesthood often find attraction in the work of the priest and his ministry of celebrating Mass, visiting the sick, or the way he preaches on Sunday. These attractions are focused on something much deeper - the ways in which the priest helps his people encounter Jesus in their daily lives.  A man who wants to be a priest has a great love for his people and wants them to grow in holiness.

You must continually convince yourself that this is not what God wants from you.
Often when we are fearful and resistant of something we try to convince ourselves that it's not happening.  A vocation to the priesthood can cause much fear in one's life.  Often men called to the priesthood will spend time trying to talk themselves out of being a priest.  If you find yourself doing this it is a strong indication that you need to contact a vocations director for guidance in discerning God's call. 

 Discernment Opportunities

The Melchizedek Project educates and inspires Catholic students to consider a vocation to priesthood.  

Catholic men meet to pray about their lives, listen for God’s voice, and get serious about answering His call. Their handbook is To Save a Thousand Souls by Father Brett Brannen, the ultimate guide for discerning a vocation to the Catholic priesthood.

The overriding theme of the discussions is discipleship: Am I willing to follow Christ no matter what the cost, no matter what the call? Will I choose to trust his will for me, and courageously go where he leads?

Learn more about the vision of The Melchizedek Project.

​Evenings to Discern Priesthood Time & Locations
January 8 and 22 ​​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe
​February 5 and 26 ​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe
​March 12 and 26 ​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe
​April 9 and 23 ​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe
​May 7 and 21 ​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe
​June 11 and 25 ​6:30 p.m., Holy Family Chapel, 1200 Ligonier Street, Latrobe


RSVP to either email address: vocations@dioceseofgreensburg.org or dmahoney@dioceseofgreensburg.org

 Christmas Discernment Event

 Below are a few images for our most recent Christmas Discernment Event, which joined together young men interested in the priesthood​.
  
  
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 Discernment FAQs

​ Below find frequently asked questions about seeking to know the Lord's will for your life and discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
Response
expand Question : Are most priests happy in their vocations, in their lives and in their work for Christ? ‎(1)
expand Question : Can priests do anything they want for recreation and fun? ‎(1)
expand Question : Do priests get paid? ‎(1)
expand Question : If I am attracted to the priesthood, does that mean that God is calling me to be a priest? ‎(1)
expand Question : Is the daily life of the priest interesting? ‎(1)
expand Question : Will I be lonely if I become a priest? ‎(1)

 Praying for Priesthood

​​The word vocation comes from the Latin word, vocare which means "to call."  We all have a vocation in life extended to us by God.  In order to discern, or figure out this calling a man must know the one who does the calling. The only way this can happen is through heartfelt conversation with God. Even if God is not calling you to the priesthood he still has a specific calling for you, which can only be discovered through prayer. No matter which vocation God has in mind for you, it is essential that you learn to pray well.
 
_man_praying.jpgThere is a difference between knowing a great deal about someone (knowing facts) and knowing them. You may know facts about someone but until you really talk with them, discover their personality, their likes, beliefs and interests, you really do not know them. If you think God is calling you to the priesthood you need to develop a deeper prayer life with Christ that goes beyond several Our Father and Hail Mary prayers each day. Below are some suggestions of ways in which you can deepen your prayer life.
 ​
Pray before the Blessed Sacrament

Prayer before our Eucharistic Lord always draws a man's heart toward Jesus and his vocation.

Go to Confession
Celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation provides the opportunity to wash away sin and former ways of living.  It renews one's relationship with Christ and his church.  Receiving the sacrament of reconciliation allows one to refocus our life on Christ and what he is calling you to. 

Surround yourself with Holy People
Do you need to change environment in order to better focus on God's will for you in your life. Your old "drinking buddies" from college, as fun as they may be, are probably not the best people to help you learn God's will. Surround yourself with people who are striving to live a holy life. 

Pray for the Courage to Respond
Men "fighting the call" often spend time agonizing over making the choice to enter or not to enter seminary.  They are waiting for the clear sign – the idiot-proof sign that will never come.  Pray for the courage to accept the many signs God as already sent and not for the perfect sign that will never come. 

Reflect on Scripture
Reading scripture is a powerful form of prayer that can spark a great conversation between you and the Lord. Here are a few suggested passages:

  • Mt 19: 16-30: Jesus' encounter with the rich young man
  • Jn 1:35-51: The calling of the first disciples
  • Lk 14:25-33: Following Christ no matter what the cost

 Overcoming the Fear of Entering Seminary

_man_bible.jpgAs St. Pope John Paul II reminded us so often throughout his pontificate: Be not afraid!  Fear is one of the greatest deterrents for men who feel called to the priesthood.  What are most men fearful of:
  • Fear of leaving family, friends and job behind
  • Fear of celibacy
  • Fear that their vocation to priesthood is not of God but their own desire
  • Fear that entering seminary may be a mistake
  • Fear of commitment fear of being unworthy and not capable of living out the priesthood

We must not allow fear to paralyze our movements toward holiness.  If you think you feel called to be a priest, but are fearful about entering seminary here are some thoughts to guide you:

  1. Remember the purpose of seminary:  Upon entering seminary a man is not committed to becoming a priest. Ordination is years away. A man discerning the priesthood enters seminary in order to discern if God is indeed calling him to the priesthood. Don't allow seminary to cause unnecessary pressure in your life but instead allow it to relieve the fear and anxiety that you may be experiencing. 
  2. Reflect on God's love: Father Brett Brannen, in his book To Save a Thousand Souls, recommends this meditation when a man feels fearful: "God is infinite in power and he loves me infinitely. There is no snatching out of his hand. God will never send me where his grace cannot sustain me. If he asks me to do something difficult, like become a priest, he will give me the grace to do it. I will not fail because he is with me. And I will be happy because I am doing his will. Even if I lack some of the needed qualities, God will help me develop them. In his will lies my peace."
  3. Find encouragement in Scripture: You are not alone in your fear.  Every man who has gone before on the journey to priesthood has faced similar concerns and worries.  We see in scripture that the great prophets and apostles had similar reactions to God's call.  Spend some time in prayer reflecting on the Scriptural references below:
  • I'm not holy enough: Is 6:1-9; Lk 5:1-11
  • I'm afraid I will fail: Ex 14: 10-31; Lk 15
  • I've made mistakes and I'm a sinner: Jn 21:15-23; Mt 9:9-13; Lk 7:36-50
  • I'm too young: 1 Sm 3:1-18; 1 Sm 16:1-13; Jer 1:4-10; Lk 1:26-3
  • I'm not talented enough: 1 Sm 17:32-51; Lk 1: 26-38
  • I want to have a family: Gn 12:1-3; Mt 12:46-50; Mk 10:28-30
  • I want "the good life": Mk 10:17-31; 1 Cor 2:9; Mt 13:44-46; Jn 10:10; Mt 16:24-27
  • I'm afraid of making a permanent commitment: Ru 1:15-17; Mt 28:16-20; 1 Cor 12:5-10
  • I'm afraid of public speaking: Ex 4:10-17; Jer 1:4-10; Jer 1: 9-10
  • I'm not smart enough: 2 Cor 4:7-18; Ex 4:10-17
  • I'm afraid of being alone: Ex 3:4-22; Lk 1:28-38; Mt 28:20
  • I want to be happy: Ps 37:4; Mt 5: 1-12; Jn 10:10; Mk 10:28-31; 1 Cor 2:9
  • I'm filled with fear: 1 Jn 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."