What if I feel called but I want to do something else with my life?
It would be a very unusual profession where the gifts and talents needed to do that profession would not also fit into being a diocesan priest. An incredible number of skills and talents are needed to be an effective priest. No priest has all of them, but that means that no matter what skills and talents you do have – they can be used as a diocesan priest. Further, as one bishop said, “If you think you’ll make a good husband and a good dad, you’ll make a fine priest. If you don’t think you’ll make a good husband and good dad, you won’t make a good priest either.” How true! They are the same skill sets. The question then is, ‘What is God calling me to be?”
What if I could not be happy unless I were married?
This is a culture that is sexually-saturated. Any electronic device that is turned on is going to be selling and talking about sex: television, music, internet, radio, video-games. There is no escape. Then, add to the fact that people are dating and a person sees lots of married couples in their every day life. Of course, it would seem one could not be happy unless one were married. But, the person who uses this excuse or exercises this myth is about 100 steps further along the journey than the Lord has taken him. Only take the next step and the Lord will guide you onto the next step. If God is calling you to be a celibate, he would give you the gifts to not only be happy, but to make you happiest by living a celibate lifestyle. What is needed is the ability to trust the Lord to take the first step and enter seminary to find out if God is calling you to become a priest – or -- if he is calling you to seminary to simply build a relationship with you.
Isn’t it true that everyone is supposed to be asking boys and men to consider priesthood; so isn’t it possible I am pressured even though I am not being called; it is just that people are supposed to talk to me about being a priest, right? If people are telling you, then that should be a sign that you should be discerning seminary. You cannot hear people say, “you should consider seminary”, reply with, “I am discerning” or “I am open to God’s plan” and then not look at seminary. What you are actually doing is being tricked by the Great Trickster, Satan himself. You are saying you are discerning, but “discerning” in your own mind without talking to others about it. Discernment does not happen alone and it does not happen by thinking about it. Discernment happens by talking to someone else (spiritual director), praying about it, and acting on it. When you think about priesthood, Satan can easily come up with hundreds of reasons the answer is no, especially when you are thinking on your own. God will never pressure; however, He will be consistent in his invitation. And, He will use others to offer the invitation
I’ve watched Fishers of Men and I don’t think I could walk up to a teenager who is dying on the road…
Neither could the young boy in the crowd who is watching the priest pray over the dying teenager. Again, to think this way is to take about 1000 steps down the path when the Lord is simply asking you to take the next step—apply to the seminary. Once a person has been in seminary for many years then he begins to take the classes that will help him “let go and let God” in those unusual but powerful experiences. You do not have to know how to give a homily, anoint someone, or celebrate mass the day you enter seminary. You can even enter seminary with stage fright, not knowing how to speak clearly, and knowing you still sin. What God asks is to be honest about yourself and trust that God has put people in the seminary to help you become the best YOU you can become so God can use you as He sees fit when He sees fit.
What if my parents are divorced or if I come from a single-parent family?
We call this family of origin. No matter the background of your family, you can be accepted to enter the seminary. Whether the candidate wants to be open in dealing with his family of origin issues will determine whether the diocese accepts him for ordination. Some of our priests come from divorced parents and single parents. If the candidate works through these issues there are no problems.
Will I have to live far from my family?
The Diocese of Jefferson City spans across 38 counties, and priests can get moved to any parish in the diocese at some point or another in their time as a priest. A priest may be close to his family for years, but then potentially get moved to another parish further away.
What if my parents would never accept this?
First of all, do you know this to be true? Unfortunately, many may be able to answer “yes” to that question. However, unless your parents have explicitly said they do not want you looking into seminary or “becoming a priest” you don’t really know that. Have the conversation and check it out and see where it goes. Regardless of how the conversation goes, find a spiritual director and talk to the spiritual director about your concerns and your parents’ reactions. Next, if they are against it and that gives you bad feelings, ask yourself why these feelings “feel” bad. Maybe it is because God really is calling you. Keep talking to your spiritual director about the feelings and your parents’ reactions. There comes a time when a man can no longer cling to his family but leaves his family to begin his own life. However, this takes time with the spiritual director. Once a person knows he is called to seminary, the parents have time to see and learn if their child is happy. What parent doesn’t want their child to be happy? The parent has time to grow into an acceptance of the child’s decision.
Do my parents have to be Catholic?
Many people who have converted to the faith have become priests. A person must be an active practicing Catholic for three years before he can enter the seminary for the diocese of Jefferson City.
My family does not / I do not live in the diocese. Will you accept me as a seminarian?
As a general rule, if you live outside of the United States, you have to know someone within the Diocese of Jefferson City who will speak on your behalf about your character. If you live in the United States, you can interview for our diocese. One of the immediate issues we will pursue is your desire to study for us or your desire to study for your home diocese. We want your home diocese to know you may consider studying for us. It is a Universal Church so we work together to foster vocations. We have several seminarians who grew up outside of the diocese. Many seminarians who are studying for other dioceses and religious communities grew up in the Diocese of Jefferson City.
What do my grades and/or GPA need to be?
Generally your GPA needs to be a 3.0 to begin seminary for the diocese but this is negotiable.
What if I did not go to a Catholic School?
Regardless of where you went to school, including if you are home-schooled, you can apply to the seminary. Some have had no experience with Catholic School until they entered seminary. Some never experienced public school and only attended parochial schools.
Do I need to take the ACT?
Yes with the optional written. Enter Conception Seminary College as a college choice. The Diocese of Jefferson City is hopeful you will get a 20, but that is negotiable. HOME-SCHOOLERS: for the ACT, you need a 20 in each section. The SAT is also acceptable.
I am in college. Does that change anything?
If you are a freshman or sophomore or if you are a Junior still deciding what to major in, you may discern God is calling you to transfer to a seminary college. Many of your general education classes will transfer to the seminary college. If you are finishing your Junior year or a Senior, you may discern to finish your undergraduate degree. Once a person graduates college and enters seminary, he enters the pre-theology program. To leave high school and enter college seminary, seminary takes about 8 years. If you leave college and enter pre-theology, seminary takes about 6 years.
I have been out of school a while and going back to school makes me a bit nervous.
Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners is the Seminary for you! It is designed for the second – career man who has been out of school and in the work force for some time. If you do not have any college, Sacred Heart School of Theology can offer that too. Everyone there will have been away from academics for a while. You will be in good company. And, everyone there will be trying to adapt to community living as well.
Do priests get paid a salary?
According to the government, diocesan priests are both self-employed and employees so we get to pay more into social security than any other group of people. We get to declare ourselves as single with no dependents and are in a low wage income so we definitely get to pay more taxes than most. Since we pay social security and taxes, it is safe to say we make an income. We promise to live a life of simplicity so while our money is ours to do with as we wish, since most of our bills are paid, we do (should) end up giving a lot of our money to charities and helping others. That said, our automobile is ours. We can also purchase whatever we want. Our money is ours and we can spend it on things we want.
Do I have to give up my hobbies to be a priest?
Priests are expected – notice the word—EXPECTED to take a day off each week. Priests are expected to take four weeks of vacation (three weekends and four weeks.) Unless a funeral or an emergency comes up in the parish, the priest, in order to keep a healthy balance to his day, should not work straight through from 6AM until 9PM. There should be a built in break in the day. The purpose of these days off, vacations, and built in down time is so that the priest can get away and rejuvenate ready to minister again. What would you do to rejuvenate; to get your mind off of things? You would do your hobbies. Priests have hobbies and are expected to do them to keep healthy. No one wants a boring priest or a priest who is on the verge of burnout. Priests hunt, fish, go in the woods and hang out with God in nature, play sports, go to sporting events, watch movies and plays and do everything other people do. The rule is: if it is not morally offensive, do it as a priest. If it is morally offensive, no one who is baptized and growing in relationship to Christ should be doing those activities. There is not a double standard for priests. We are all trying to grow deeper in our relationship to Christ.
If I go to seminary, and do not become a priest, am I a failure?
First, one does not go to seminary once he realizes he is supposed to be a priest. He goes to seminary to find out if God is calling him to priesthood. All a person has to do to apply to seminary is be open to God’s plan for him with the possibility that may be to the priesthood. Second, if the person finds out (discerns) that God is not calling him to priesthood, he has done the necessary discernment to know he is to leave seminary. The person is not a failure but has discerned in a safe place set up for the discernment to take place that he is not called to priesthood.
If I go to seminary and find out I am not called to the priesthood, then haven’t I wasted a lot of time and money?
Most people will switch their major multiple times before graduating college and then will switch their field of employment many more times before settling in that long term career. Making money, though it is the American culture’s top priority is not God’s number one priority for you. Finding and deepening that relationship with God is his number one priority for Him. If He can take care of the flowers in the meadow and takes care of the birds in the sky, how much more is He going to take care of you who has been generous enough to discern what God is asking of you? And, money is never a reason to not enter seminary. Though it would be inappropriate to go into detail here, suffice to say there are ways to help men discern without it costing the individual a lot of money to enter or to leave seminary. To find out more, a person would have to talk to the vocation director. Neither time nor money has been wasted when your top priority in life (first commandment) is to build and deepen your relationship with Christ.
What happens if I believe I am not good enough, smart enough, holy enough….etc. enough…. OR I am too …. impatient, unworthy, etc…?
Fill in the blanks using whatever words or phrases fit you. If God is calling, he is only going to ask you to take the next step; he did not give the entire plan to Abraham, Moses, Mary, the Apostles and he won’t give you the entire plan either. He simply asked them to take the next step. They did. He asks you to take the next step. Will you? Let him worry about your weaknesses and incompleteness. When you give God permission to take the next step with you, he will be more than powerful enough to do what he needs to do through you. Just let him. Trust him!
Why no women priests?
There are books and encyclicals written on this topic, so here is a brief answer. Begin by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. When you say, “Our Father” stop. What would all priests be if you just said, “Our Mother” and our Mother sent her only daughter into the world? Girls/women/female. However as Jesus told us in the Bible, Our Father sent his only son into the world, so all priests are boys/men/male. Can women be instruments of Jesus Christ? Absolutely! And we need them to be! What are the only 2 things a Roman Catholic Priest can do in the Church that no one else can do: change bread and wine into the body and blood and absolve people of their sins (which happens during an anointing of the sick and reconciliation.) At those two times, Jesus overtakes the priest and you are dealing with the one true Priest, Jesus Christ himself. Onto another part of this answer… Jesus is called the bridegroom and his church, the bride. Jesus steps into the priest, the bridegroom so he can administer the sacraments to his bride, the church. A girl/woman/female can’t be married to the bride, the church. Continuing… Read the Old Testament… who gave the sacrifices all throughout the Old Testament… priests who were all male. What is the Eucharist? How does Jesus take away our sins? The Great Sacrifice. Still male priesthood.
Again, there are books and encyclicals written on this topic, too. So, a brief explanation. First, it is celibacy for the kingdom, not just celibacy. When husbands and wives are united in marriage, they imitate the love of the Father and Son. Complete gift of self to the other and complete acceptance of the other. The entire lifetime of each spouse is to all that is possible to get that other spouse and children and as many people as possible to the kingdom of heaven, but especially the spouse. This life isn’t all there is. Live for the next. The priest stands in the community as celibate and asks the question to everyone, including but not limited to the married couples “Are you doing everything possible to bring your spouse and all others to the kingdom of heaven. This life is not all there is; live this life for the next life.” We are totally committed to Christ and his Church; we are not a divided heart.
What are the benefits of celibacy?
Celibacy is a great expression of love. Priests are asked by God to give of themselves wholly to God to serve His people. So often, people look at priestly celibacy as a loss—a loss of the potential to marry and have a family. But, celibacy allows priests to open their hearts fully to God and allow His love to fill them completely. It is a sign of Christ’s love for us. Christ did not marry because he wanted to show his Father’s love to the whole world; we as priests are concrete signs of the Father’s love to the whole world.
Why Obedience and what does it mean?
Too often when people think of obedience, they have the impression of blind obedience where we just do what we are told without consultation. That does not describe the promise of obedience. By the time one has gone through the seminary, almost all there is to know about a person is known. The gifts given to that person are certainly known. The parishes who need those gifts the most are also certainly known. So, because a wise and smart bishop wants happy priests, he does all in his power to make sure the gifts of the priest match the needs of the parish. And, the priest and bishop communicate frequently about what is happening in the parish and with the priest. When the bishop is asking questions, the priest has the obligation by the promise of obedience to speak clearly, frankly (not rudely) and honestly about the topic at hand. The priest, if he is living up to his promise, would be required to give information to the bishop that the bishop would need to know to best tend to his flock. In this way the bishop and his advisors have the best and most information to make decisions.
Are there age requirements to be a priest in the Diocese of Jefferson City?
There is not a set age for the diocese that would automatically exclude a man from becoming a priest for the Diocese of Jefferson City. However, candidates are always subject to the approval of the Diocesan Vocation Committee. In the approval process, the candidate’s age is one factor that is considered by the committee, among many others. The decision is made on a candidate-by-candidate basis.
What ministries are there for priests in the diocese of Jefferson City?
Almost every priest in the diocese has some sort of parish assignment. Exceptions to this include the full time vocation director and 2 hospital chaplains. However, all three of them do weekend duties at parishes. 28 parishes are stand alone parishes meaning they are not clustered with another parish. 82 parishes are clustered together with other parishes. 37 of our parishes have grade schools. We are a rural diocese with much farmland and agricultural industry. The big towns in our diocese (hardly considered urban) are Columbia and Jefferson City, the state capitol. The Lake of the Ozarks, a tourist destination is also in the boundaries of the diocese.