I believe God is calling me to be a priest but I have not always acted like a saint. Can I still be called to the priesthood?

As the saying goes, “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.” If God only called perfect men to the priesthood, the priesthood would have begun and ended with Jesus Christ! God calls men knowing that they are humans who are not perfect. Just look at the lives of saints such as St. Augustine. Seminary is a time of formation in human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral areas so that the priest can be a bridge to Christ. No man is worthy of the call to the priesthood yet many are called to continue to grow in holiness and serve God as His priest. Talk to your spiritual director and/or the director of vocations regarding your own personal circumstances.


What does a priest do all day?

The life of a priest can be very different from one day to the next. The day is centered on prayer: celebration of Mass, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and private prayer and adoration. Diocesan priests stay very active in their parishes and ministries. They may have a funeral Mass to prepare for or celebrate, preparing their homily for the upcoming Sunday, teaching at the school or religious education program, visits to the homebound, counseling with parishioners who are experiencing a difficult time, hospitals visits, meetings with couples preparing for marriage, youth group meetings to plan and present, parish meetings, and administration in the office, just to name a few. A priest can plan his day and his schedule can get changed by just one phone call to anoint someone or a death of a parishioner. A priest also has time for exercise and to relax.


Does a priest have any time off? What does he do for recreation?

A diocesan priest has a time away from the parish every week to rest and visit family and friends. Priests have many interests and hobbies; how they choose to spend their day off and their free time is different for every priest. Some priests enjoy reading, some training for—and running—marathons, hiking, a day at the beach. Dinners out and/or the movies with friends are common. Some priests are artists, musicians, athletes, fishermen; they enjoy much of the same recreation as anyone else. Priests also have annual vacations and time for a retreat.


Do priests receive a salary?

Diocesan priests do not make a vow of poverty (as religious order priests do) but try to live a simple lifestyle. Still, there are expenses that he must pay such as the cost of his car as well as the maintenance and gas, clothing, books, computer, dinners out or vacation. The priest does receive a salary in order to meet these and other personal expenses. A priest’s salary will not make any Forbes top-earner lists but a man does not enter the priesthood because of the pay but because God has called him to follow Jesus “as one who came to serve.”


What is the difference between diocesan and religious order priests?

Diocesan priests are those who are ordained for service in a particular diocese. The Diocese of Providence has over 200 priests who are serving or who have retired from active ministry. Those ordained for a particular diocese will serve in that diocese (except in rare cases). The diocesan priest makes promises of celibacy, obedience to the bishop and his successors, and prayer.


Religious order priests are ordained for service wherever their order serves which could be in the USA or on any continent, depending on the order. Each order has a certain charism and spirituality which they follow. Religious order priests will make vows of poverty (they own no property individually and receive only a small stipend rather than a salary; the order meets their temporal needs), chastity, and obedience to their superior.


How long does it take to become a priest?

Formation for the priesthood takes between 4-8 years, depending on age and educational background. The priest spends about the same amount of time in studies as a lawyer or doctor so that would include 4 years of undergraduate studies in philosophy and 4 years of graduate studies in theology. Formation includes more than just academics, in order to allow his heart to be formed like that of Christ’s, a man intellectually, spiritually, pastorally and humanly. A man who enters seminary right after high school graduation would expect to spend 8 years in formation. A man who has already graduated from college will spend between 4-6 years in formation. Each case should be discussed individually with the Director of Vocations.


Do I have to give up my friends?

Quite the opposite! Priests should have healthy relationships with their brother priests, religious brothers or sisters, lay men and women, and their families. Priests promise to live a chaste celibate life but they are not hermits. Good friendships with other priests as well as members of the laity strengthen and support the priest’s vocation and promises.


Will I be lonely?

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. We can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely; sometimes married persons even feel lonely. Priests may be living alone in a rectory but through their close relationship with the Lord and the many friendships that they develop, it is rare for a priest to feel lonely. All priests nurture healthy friendships with brother priests, religious, and lay faithful. Their relationships with their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews all help them support them in their ministry. Oftentimes, priests treasure the moments of solitude for prayer, writing, and rest.


As a priest in the Diocese of Providence, where will I be assigned?

The Diocese of Providence covers the same geographic territory as the State of Rhode Island. A priest of the Diocese will be serving somewhere within the Diocese of Providence. Only in very rare circumstances is a priest called to minister outside of his Diocese.