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Catholics - would you be happy if your son wanted to be a priest?

(64 Posts)
ThuribleTrouble Tue 14-May-13 14:01:28

Search your soul and be honest.

My son has been accepted for training and I can't find it in me to be happy for him because I think he has no understanding of what it really entails. He is only 18 at the moment.

LynetteScavo Thu 16-May-13 20:21:07

Because I have two sons, and a yes, I would be 21, but not 18. If I had only one child? I would rather have grandchildren than a son who was a priest. I am being honest, and obviously selfish here.

But, even if I had 6 DC, I would still have massive concerns. There is a long process leading to final ordination, yes. But I can't help think about Orthox priest who are allowed to marry.

I know someone who is very religious, and the whole family always has been. Her sister became a nun. It really, shook her. She always thought her sister would marry, have children, live close by. Then one day... her DSis was a nun....what can you do? She did a lot of praying, and talking to the local nuns to help her through what essentially was a bereavement.

I know my DSs will be encouraged to consider the priesthood at some point before they leave school at 18, and will be offered the opportunity of a retreat to consider the possibility. I would happily send them both, because I don't think there is a hope in.......

willyoulistentome Thu 16-May-13 20:25:38

I'm Catholic and no I would not be happy about it. I'd be worried sick about them.

LynetteScavo Thu 16-May-13 20:29:32

I think it's necessary to study theology first, and rather a lot of other stuff. I think there are 2/3 days of psychometric testing now, before becoming a priest.

I would suggest your DS considers other careers which involve theology/Spanish/whatever in case he changes his mind.

In all honesty, I don't think anyone should enter the priesthood before 25 yo.

Delayingtactic Thu 16-May-13 20:30:56

Oh I would be very very proud. But also a teensiest bit sad that he won't get to have a partner or family plus more importantly my grandchildren DH's father went to a seminary at 18, I think he left at about 22/23 when he met my MIL the hussy. I think they give young men a lot of time to decide before final ordination so if he does change his mind he can.

I have to say I wouldn't have thought of it as a lonely choice though.

hurricanewyn Thu 16-May-13 20:42:17

I am RC & I honestly think I would be torn - pride in his vocation, respect for his calling & a lot of sadness, a lot, for the life he's missing out on. A family in particular. Honestly, it's such a huge decision at such a young age.

I hope you find a way to accept & have peace with his decision, that if it's truly the right path for your son that it becomes clear to you.

(There are a lot of transferable skills if he does decide it's not for him)

MareeeyaDoloures Thu 16-May-13 21:11:16

Is he doing this? It looks like a sort of 'access course' for seminary. Could you support him doing this for a year to 'discern' if you knew he would be taking a gap year (or 3) to work or study in the 'real world' before committing to the full 6 year 'priest course'.

I think you need to go and have a proper talk with your parish priest. There are some over-enthusiastic 'movements' in the Church which get carried away with pushing priestly vocations (and forgetting the validity of a call to be a happily married plumber or whatever). There are also young men who will become unhappy and unwell if unnecessary barriers and delays are put between them and their genuine calling.

MrsFrederickWentworth Thu 16-May-13 21:15:23

Op, and I love the name too, I have various friends who have become priests, tried an wd decided it wasn't for them, or succeeded.

All if them are successful in whatever they have ended up being, priest, nun, teacher, lecturer, lawyer, professor , etc. There is much less stigma now in leaving and people are less screwed up.about it than on previous generations.

The friends who did leave just did the " well it wasn't for me" and then got a qualification and did what they did. So I would worry I know, but actually they were fine.

I still think it is more sensible to pot off the decision until you are at least 21 or through university, but for sone people, as I say, they know right from the beginning. If they do, then it is cruel to prevent them and the important thing is to support them to make the right choices in that decision and be there to pick up the pieces if necessary.

Her family and I had to do that for my friend, when the first choice was not right, although it had been her long term plan. But, dv, this one is. We'll still be there if she ever wants out, as we were for another friend but we support her there.

RicStar Thu 16-May-13 21:32:51

My db is a rc priest he started training at 21 post uni + it is a v.long process + not one size fits all. Db knows lots of people who dropped out (& are doing other useful things)+ lots who are now priests of course. There will be lots of time for your ds to think about it. Fwiw i do think 18 is too young +hope he is gently nudged to slow down abit. My db is amazing man with an astonishing vocation (which i cant understand as my faith has drifted away). Its a tough life imo but very full of people / travel + love in its own way.

Tommy Thu 16-May-13 22:33:18

I think a meeting rather than just a phone call might be necessary

As other posters have said it is a very long process to ordination to the priesthood. My impression of the RC process is that they start them younger and take longer to train, but expect a higher drop out rate than the C of E.

It must seem very strange if you don't have a faith but a calling is something that you just can't ignore. It doesn't go away and the process of discernment as it is called is about sorting out human need - 'hey I look good in black and everyone will love me when I'm the one in charge' to the reality which is that black is a very good working colour and that working with those people on the margins is grindingly hard work. The process will get the stars out of his eyes if there are any.

Meringue33 Fri 17-May-13 07:44:27

I am Catholic and I think it's a great job. The priests I know are far from lonely, on the contrary. I am not sure that I personally could cope with being single but that's me.

He is young and has plenty of time to change his mind. He will learn so much that could be useful in a different type of work and could even be deployed elsewhere in the Catholic Church.

Have you explored with him why he thinks it is the right choice for him, and the implications of giving up a family life? I had one friend who was gorgeous, gay and closeted who felt he had a vocation. I have lost touch with him and am sure he would make a terrific priest, but I also did wonder if he could have embraced his sexuality he may have chosen a different route.

(Not intended to be offensive to anyone, I realise this was just one person and not relevant to most people's interest in a vocation).

JakeBullet Fri 17-May-13 07:50:11

Both our local Priests (in their 40s) have been ordained about 10 years or so. Both describe a very long journey to priesthood with lots of friends who dropped out on the way. Both of them say the journey BEFORE they went into the seminary was amazing and took them all over the world as volunteers. Neither of them has any regrets about the path they have chosen.

ThuribleTrouble Fri 17-May-13 16:28:17

I hear what you say JakeBullet, about the journey to priesthood being so interesting and taking them all over the world. I do worry though that trips to Spain and elsewhere are not a very good preparation for working in dwindling parishes. It must be soul destroying to have to spend your time mediating between various factions within the parish and ministering to the elderly and dying.

ThuribleTrouble Fri 17-May-13 16:35:48

Tommy, I would be very interested to hear what your friend thought of his time in Valladolid.

To those of you asking whether I have tried suggesting that he go to university first, well I have, but he stubbornly refused to apply. If he had done any work this year he would have easily got into a RG uni. Despite putting in no work this year I still expect him to get ABBish results (science subjects)

MareeeyaDoloures Fri 17-May-13 22:07:38

Having a vocation is no excuse for skiving. doesn't he know the Pope is a qualified chemist? wink

HamletsSister Fri 17-May-13 22:09:53

It seems very young. Can't he do a degree first, experience a bit of the world, and then decide?

mrspaddy Fri 17-May-13 22:15:09

I admire people that enter the Priesthood but would feel concerned too. However, it is a calling and whatever path we choose - religious or not - I think being supportive is important.

One of the people I have loved and respected most in my life was a nun. I truly believe she had a bigger role to play in my life than any secular person.

18 is young though so your concern is very real and understandable.

chipmonkey Fri 17-May-13 22:51:16

I was brought up Catholic but am not really Catholic any more, though I still believe in "something".
I would hate for my sons to want to be priests. I wouldn't oppose it because opposing things tends to make your kids do the very thing you're opposed to but I would be hoping quietly that they came to their senses!

I remember my teacher when I was 11 or 12 explaining that it was a vocation to be a nun or a priest and that God would call you and that if were were called, you should answer.

I used to lie in bed with my fingers over my ears praying "Don't call me, don't call me!"

TheSecondComing Sat 18-May-13 18:39:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Weegiemum Sat 18-May-13 18:44:23

With what the commitments for a Catholic priest are, I'd not be keen.

I'm not Catholic, but we are Christian (and in a go every week way) and if any of my dc wanted to go into ministry at 18 I'd try to talk them into trying something else first. At 18, I'm not sure anyone is fit to make that decision. It demands a huge amount of maturity to deal with your parishioners.

ShakingSultana Tue 21-May-13 20:23:13

My DS is an only child so it would definitely mean no grandchildren if he went into the Priesthood. DH and I would be very proud but probably sad for DS that he wouldn’t experience the joy of having a family. We’re both committed Catholics though which would probably help us to genuinely support his vocation. This is all very theoretical as DS hasn’t finished primary school yet!

My friend is engaged to a Deacon in the Anglican Catholic Church. My friend is lovely and I’m sure that their marriage will strengthen her fiancé’s ministry when he gets ordained into the Priesthood. She told me that in their Church, men must be at least 23 to be ordained as a Deacon or at least 24 to be ordained into the Priesthood. This seems like a sensible age restriction as it allows them to get some life experience and perhaps have a greater appreciation of what the Priesthood involves.

Another friend is a married Roman Catholic Priest (Ordinariate). If DS were to join the Ordinariate or similar type group where marriage is allowed (I don’t know if there are any others) then I would have far fewer reservations.

I hope your DS finds the right path for him. Don’t worry, the process is very stringent and he will be able to leave before ordination if it is not right for him.

HoneyandRum Fri 24-May-13 08:59:33

ShakingSultana I think you may not quite understand what the Ordinariate is. It can be a bit confusing for Catholics as it is such a new thing. The Ordinariates were set up by Pope Benedict in response to Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world pleading with the Catholic Church to let them enter as congregations and groups. Of course at any time anyone can convert and become Catholic but these groups wanted to come in together with their priests and retain some of their traditions that were compatible with Catholic theology.

The Ordinariate for England (or entire UK?) is the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Men who were priests and Bishops in good standing (i.e not twice divorced without an annulment etc. and other examples) were reordained as Catholic priests. However, even within the Ordinariate seminarians who are not already marry cannot get married once they are Catholic. There are exceptions as the Vatican looks at each man on a case by case basis. Maybe a practicing and devout Anglican who was engaged to be married might be an exception, I don't know. The purpose of the Ordinariate is for CONVERTING Anglicans who were raised with a different theology of the priesthood. Cradle Catholics cannot skip over to the Ordinariate to pick up a spouse before ordination, that's not how it works. To emphasize again, even Ordinariate Catholics cannot marry as priests if they are not already married. Just like any other Catholic.

Married priests cannot be Bishops and the current head of the English Ordinariate (a former Anglican Bishop who is married with children) is called the Ordinary (head) but is not ordained as a Catholic Bishop.

Hope that is a bit better than as clear as mud!

neontetra Fri 24-May-13 12:58:12

One of my close friends did start training for the priesthood, though he has since changed path, for a variety of reasons. From what I remember, he loved his year in Vallodolid! But it got tougher afterwards. I think one thing that makes it hard for the young men these days is that the seminarys are so empty - only about four men in his year group in my friend's case. So not all that much peer support, depending who you click with etc. Based on my friend's experience if I'm honest I would be worried if my son (if I had one) had this vocation - it is a tough journey. The eighteen year olds, my friend told me, did find it especially hard (he was a bit older). As it happens I'm not Catholic - don't know if this effects how I think about it? I would certainly be thrilled if DD wanted to be a vicar! But a calling is a calling, it would be wrong to hide from it. All you can do is support and pray for him, and let him know you will be totally accepting whether it works out as he wants, or not. Will pray for you both, too.

demisemiquaver Wed 29-May-13 00:24:39

dear op I know that in the past at least,valladolid was an awesome experience...but your son does seem a bit young,...tho some folk are as mature then as otrhers are at 21, so poss his age is a bit does know of ex-priests who turn out great tho and contribute greatly to society/marry/ their priestly knowledge and experiences are n ot wasted......and poss priests will get married in future anyway who knows.......

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 29-May-13 16:27:27

I wouldn't be over the moon about it and 18 is very young. However, I wouldn't be too worried either. As others have said, the training is long and I know quite a few people who have entered the Seminary and then worked out that it wasn't for them and left having valued the experience.

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