Q: I feel as though God might be calling me to be a priest, what do I do next?
A: Approach a priest and ask them to help you discern (find out) whether God is calling you to be a priest. He might well put you in touch with the Vocations Director of your diocese, who will speak with you and help you. There are also priests specially trained as Spiritual Directors who can accompany you on your journey.
Q: What is it like being a priest?
A: Being a priest is one of the most, if not the most, privileged lifes possible: people trust priests with their joys and sorrows, with their good news and their bad news. They invite priests into their lives at the most important times: birth and death, illness and marriage. Priests are seen as people who allow God’s goodness to enter the world and are therefore called upon by all sorts of people. Priests, especially when they are celebrating the Sacraments, are quite literally seen as “other Christs”… it doesn’t get any better than that!
Q: How do you know that God is calling you to be a priest?
A: Most of the time people realise that they are being called to be a priest through a sense of something not being quite right with their present life. From the outside their lives may seem perfectly normal and happy, yet the person themselves knows that something is not quite right, that they have a “restlessness”, an itch that they need to scratch; then, through prayer, reflection and guidance they come to an understanding that God is calling them to serve in His Church. Others come to hear God’s call to priesthood through serving others, they realise that they are being called to help others, and they see the Church as the best way of fulfilling that need to help.
Q: Would I need to give up my job straight away if I thought God was calling me to the priesthood?
A: Not at all. It is only when you have been through a period of reflection and discernment, have spoken with your Bishop, and been accepted for seminary would you need to consider this.
Q: How long do you need to train to be a priest?
A: Well it depends on where your Bishop, in consultation with you, decides to send you. Scotland’s future priests train at Scots College in Rome. Studying in Rome takes 7 years. This might seem like a long time, but it is a time of great growth in most people’s lives.
Q: Is there any age restriction on applying to train to be a priest?
A: It’s quite unusual nowadays for a Bishop to accept a person straight from school, although not unheard of, as most would want the person to have some work/life experience before starting their studies for the priesthood. However, the first thing to do would be to discuss your calling with your Vocations Director or Bishop. At the other end of the scale it is not uncommon these days for men to be ordained in their 50’s and even 60’s: the Church recognising their great wealth of life experience.
Q: How much do priests get paid?
A: Priests get an annual salary of a couple of thousand pounds a year, although this is really just pocket money as you are provided with a house, your food, and the basic necessities of life. Priests don’t go hungry and people tend to be very generous so that they seldom need anything. Most priests get away on holidays and retreats on a regular basis.
Q: Do you need to give up all the fun things of life to be a priest?
A: Priests are human beings just like the rest of us. They need friends, relaxation, and to be able to unwind, many priests play sports and enjoy the outdoor life. Being a priest means that you are involved in the lives of a lot of people, many of whom become your friends: it is very satisfying and enjoyable being a priest.