At His Ascension Jesus entrusted His mission to twelve disciples. It seemed a very daunting task to go out to preach the Gospel to the whole world. He promised that He would be with them. He also promised that their task would be both challenging and demanding, even to the shedding of their blood.
He also told them to entrust others to continue their mission with the simple injunction “pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest”. That command of Jesus still remains.
Men and women are called, in every age, including ours, to give their lives in His name as priests and religious. Responding to this call demands commitment and trust along with the support and prayers of many along the journey.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know I have a vocation to the priesthood?
You may have enjoyed serving Mass as a young person, or perhaps you admired the dedication of a priest you knew; you may feel you would like to give your life to God more fully or in serving others; or again some respected person may have challenged you to think of priesthood – any such experiences can set you thinking about becoming a priest. However, as Pope Francis says ‘Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer and only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit‘.
To hear God’s call in the heart one needs to spend time in silent prayer. A suitable prayer is that of St Paul ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ Prayerful reading of how God called various people in Scripture can be helpful e.g. the call of the apostles Luke 5: 1-11. A deep inner peace at the thought of priesthood (even if you have concerns at a surface level) is a positive indication as is the continual return of thoughts of priesthood in prayer. Every vocation is a unique story.
A vocation to priesthood will need to be discerned finally with the help of a vocations director.
I think I might have a vocation to the priesthood in the Diocese of Meath. What do I do?
Talk to someone. Talk to a priest you know, your own parish clergy, chaplain in school or any priest with who you can identify. You can also make contact with the vocations directors in the Diocese of Meath.
Just because you talk does not mean you commit. You can be assured of a kind ear and good advice.
One does not just knock of the door of a seminary and begin training for the priesthood. It takes time from your initial contact to beginning studies. You should expect a time frame of anything up to two years of ‘accompaniment’ with the vocations director of the diocese. If things progress an applicant is required to do a pre-seminary assessment. At this point the Bishop will hold an interview and make the decision on acceptance.
All candidates do what is called a ‘propaedeutic’ course; a six month or twelve month time of preparation in a seminary environment in order to get ready for seminary life. Seminary follows the academic cycle, so the beginning of the year is late August or September, depending on the seminary.
I have pursued a career and worked since leaving school. Can an older man study for the priesthood?
Many men in our diocese have followed the call to priesthood later in life. There is in fact an array of previous professions among the clergy; solicitors, painters, nurses, bus drivers, horticulturalists and retailers to name a few! Every application is taken on its own merits.
Could God really be calling me?
I am your average Catholic, middle of road, not exceptionally holy, could I be called to the priesthood? Yes of course! God calls regular men from the family of the Church. We are all called to holiness. We are all a work in progress.
Is the study part of the formation hard?
The basic entry requirement is the Leaving Cert. Seminary studies are tailored to suit all levels of academic skill. Priestly training takes anything between five and seven years – sometimes more – depending on the candidate’s age and courses he follows. Every assistance is given to students to help them in their studies. If this is a concern make sure to mention it to the vocations director.
The idea of public speaking seems very challenging to me. Could I still be a priest?
This can be an understandable concern for someone who may consider himself shy. It can be a daunting prospect. However, bear in mind formation and training for the priesthood is comprehensive. By the end of a seminary journey you will be well equipped, with the grace of God, to stand up and proclaim Jesus is Lord!
The Next Step
Being a priest is challenging; there is no escaping that fact. Challenges, however, have never stopped the spread of the Gospel. If the idea of serving God as a priest is attractive to you, take the next step and find out a bit more. A candidate for the priesthood in the Diocese of Meath needs to be an unmarried, baptised man, over the age of 18. He needs to have good physical and psychological health, free from major commitments.
Contact the Vocations Team
For more information, please contact:
Fr Tony Gonoude