A call to the priesthood, like any vocation, is a unique call from God that must be fostered
through prayer, with the guidance of the Church



If you think that God is calling you, do not be afraid. Seek out your pastor and the diocesan vocation director. Continue to pray and stay close to the Sacraments. Here are just some of the many resources available to assist in the discernment of your vocation.

  • Is God calling me?

    Is God calling you to the priesthood?

    • A personal relationship with God integrated through prayer and seen as an important and vital part of his life
    • Has the ability and willingness to talk about his faith
    • Has some involvement in his local parish
    • Has a desire to serve others and make a difference in people’s lives
    • Willing to sacrifice personally for the service of the Gospel and the Church
    • One who is approachable
    • Possesses a psycho-sexual-social maturity
    • Takes initiative and assumes responsibility for his actions
    • Recognizes the importance of the Church and the role of the Church as teacher
    • Possesses the skills of self-mastery and discipline
    • Has shown the capacity and evidence of living a chaste, celibate life
    • Has average intelligence, common sense, good physical and emotional health
    • Recognizes the need to both give and accept support from others
    • Possesses a keen sense of empathy
    • Has leadership skills
    • The celebration of the Sacraments are important to him
    • Has the ability to nurture another person’s growth
    • He is open and respectful of all people
    • A person of integrity
    • An awareness of God’s omnipotent presence
    • Others have mentioned that he would make a good priest
  • What is discernment?


    How does one understand the concept of discernment. Etymologically, discernment means to “separate apart” so we might distinguish something in order for it to be perceived clearly. It is the way in which we identify God’s will within the context in which we live. Most of us do know God’s will because it has been revealed through the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. However, there are times when God’s will is not so clear and we realize that we need to search for what God is asking of us.

    Discernment is an art and it is learned by doing, not just reading about it. It is a function of an individual’s personal relationship with the Lord. When we desire to do God’s will, are willing to be open to God and have a solid knowledge of God, then discernment is possible. Therefore, prayer is an essential component to the process of discernment. To be a truly discerning person, we need to be humble, charitable and courageous. As we become more familiar with the Lord in prayer, we will come to know that the “small still voices” speaks in peace never in turmoil, anxiety or restlessness.”

    Some practical suggestions which will help a young man discern a call to priesthood are:

    1) Daily Mass – one who is discerning a call to priesthood is encouraged to participate in the daily celebration of Mass so that he can grow in his relationship with the Lord.

    2) Sacrament of Penance – The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is the way in which a man attempts to live a holy life – through the frequent confession of sins and by the grace of God.

    3) Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – this is a powerful ways to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord and to grow in the spiritual life.

    4) Daily Prayer – this is time set aside for God alone, usually in a quiet place at a specific time each day. This prayer time might consist of talking to the Lord in one’s own words or praying the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels. Developing a daily habit and pattern of prayer will help the young man to hear more clearly the call of the Lord.

    5) Spiritual Direction – speaking with a priest or qualified individual trained in direction about one’s prayer life and seeking advice from this person on a regular basis is very helpful as one discerns a vocation to the priesthood.

    6) Discernment programs – attending a weekend retreat at a seminary, vocation evenings or joining a discussion group of other young men discerning a vocation are invaluable in helping one to come to greater clarity about God’s call to priesthood.

    7) Devotion to the Blessed Mother – praying the rosary daily and seeking the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother is especially recommended in the discernment process.

    8) Get involved – in some form of service with the Church. For example, outreach to the poor, teaching religious education, lecturing at Mass, taking Holy Communion to the sick, working with the young of a parish, etc. are ways to give one a taste of “ministry” and may also increase one’s desire for ministry and service.

    9) Talk to a Vocation Director – in order to obtain further information about seminary and priestly life. The vocation director may also help through regular meetings so as to help in discerning with the young man the authenticity of the call.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is ordination?

    Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop and enabled to minister in Christ’s name and that of the Church. There are three ordinations in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: deaconate; priesthood; and Episcopal. The ordination ceremony includes various rituals, rich in meaning and history, E.G., the prostration, laying on of hands, anointing of hands, giving of the chalice and paten sign of peace.

    2. When does the ordination actually take place?

    The essential rite of the sacrament is the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration, which occurs during the Mass of Ordination. This is an ancient tradition in the Church, mentioned in the Bible.

    3. Who can ordain priests?

    Only a bishop can ordain a priest because he shares in the ministry of Jesus passed down through the apostles.

    4. What is the meaning of the laying on of hands?

    By this ritual the ordaining bishop and the other priests invoke the Holy Spirit to come down upon the one to be ordained, giving him a sacred character and setting him apart for the designated ministry.

    5. Why does the ordained lie prostrate during the ordination?

    It symbolizes his unworthiness for the office to be assumed and his dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.

    6. What is the meaning of the newly ordained priest receiving the stole and chasuble?

    These are vestments which pertain to his office and have symbolic meaning. The stole symbolizes the authority and responsibility to serve in imitation of Christ. It reflects the line from Scripture: “For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt11:30). The chasuble is the principal garment of the priest celebrating the Eucharist and is the outermost vestment.

    7. What does the anointing of the hands signify?

    Anointing with oil stems from the Old Testament and indicates that someone or something is being set apart for a sacred task or duty. The anointing of the hands signifies that the hands of the newly ordained priest are being prepared for the sacred duties and vessels which will be part of the priestly ministry, for example, offering the bread and the wine, anointing the sick and blessing people. The bishop says as he anoints the hands: “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.”

    8. Why does the ordaining bishop hand the ordinand a chalice and paten?

    The Eucharist is at the heart of the priesthood and this ritual highlights the importance of celebrating the Eucharist in the life of the priest and its meaning, as seen in the words which are spoken by the bishop: “Accept from the holy people of God that gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”

    9. How does one prepare for ordination to the priesthood?

    A man has to engage in a challenging program of priestly formation which lasts from five to thirteen years, depending upon his background and the seminary he attends. There are three levels of seminary: high school; college or pre-theology; and theology.

    Seminaries address four types of formation: human; spiritual, academic(intellectual); and pastoral. In addition to the academic course work, seminarians participate in a full schedule of spiritual activities, e.g., daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer), and spiritual direction and retreats. At each level of seminary training, the seminarians prepares for the future pastoral ministry in various settings, such as schools, religious education programs, hospitals and parishes. All of the formation takes into consideration the human person; human growth and development is fostered by community living workshops and other programs. The formation of future priests includes practical learning, too, for example, preaching, saying Mass, and pastoral counseling. For recent statistics on seminaries and seminary students, please call the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation at the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • Prayer for Vocations

    Prayer for Vocations

    Jesus, Lord of the Harvest, Help us to respond generously to the inspirations of your Spirit. Give to your Church, for the world of today, true disciples who will serve as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers: to draw men to God and God to men; to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to the captives; to obtain new sight for the blind. Announce to us a year of favor. Amen Mary, Mother of the Church, and St. Joseph, its patron, pray for us. Whom shall I send? Lord, send me.

    Prayer To Know One’s Vocation

    Lord Jesus, up until now you have been busy quietly preparing me to be your disciple. Now the time of preparation is ending. I seem to hear you say to me as once to Peter: “Will you also go away?” You were saddened then by friends who failed you. But Peter did not fail. “Lord,” he said, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

    I stand with Peter. Through prayer and counsel, show me, Lord where it is your vineyard that you want me to serve. Then give me the strength to be faithful. Mary, Mother and Model, help me to respond in generous love to the call of your divine Son. Amen.

    Prayer To Know My Vocation

    My Lord and my God, you are Love itself, the source of all love and goodness. Out of love you created me to know you, to love you, and to serve you in a unique way, as no one else can. I believe that you have a plan for my life, that you have a mission in your Kingdom reserved for me alone. Your plan and your missoin are far better than any other I might choose: they will glorify you, fulfill the desires of my heart, and bring salvation to those souls who are depending on my generous response.

    Lord grant me the light of grace I need to see the next step in Your plan; grant me the generosity necessary to follow your call; and grant me the courage required to take up my cross and to follow you.

    Show me your will, O gentle and eternal God, and help me to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” Let me say with Jesus, “Let not my will be done, but yours.” Amen

    Prayer For Seminarians

    O Lord Jesus Christ, great High Priest, I pray that You call many worthy souls to Your holy priesthood. Enlighten the Bishop in the choice of candidates, the Spiritual Director in molding them, and the professors in instructing them. Lead the seminarians daily in Your unerring footsteps; so that they may become priests who are models of purity, possessors of wisdom, and heroes of sacrifice; steeped in humility and aflame with love for God and man; apostles of Your glory and sactifiers of souls. Amen.

    Mary Queen of Clergy, pray for us!

If you are seriously considering the call to priesthood, the first thing you need to do is talk to your pastor and vocation director. Application to the diocese is the first step, especially since your bishop will determine where you will be sent to study. Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary hosts an information weekend each semester where young men who are discerning the call can come and visit the seminary, meet the seminarians, and learn more about what it is to be a seminarian.

See the dioceses we serve for information about whom to contact.


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