Priesthood » Discerning my Particular Vocation

Discerning my Personal Vocation

PathwaysDiscerning a particular vocation is a personal and often very private process and not disclosed publicly - God calls us sometimes when we are young or maybe later in life. So when should people start answering God’s call, meaning when should one enter the seminary or a religious order?

From a general point of view, the answer would be, “Right away”, meaning as soon as you hear the call and prudently come to the conclusion that it may be authentic you should act on it. In our daily life, whenever God asks us to do something, we should follow through quickly and generously. That is the general principal, but when we are faced with a concrete individual, several factors and circumstances can affect the answer. For someone still underage his parents’ desires are a major factor in his decision and he needs their permission to take any definitive step. Usually there are opportunities for those aged 16 or over to take part in discernment days, etc. but it’s possible for even a young child to begin talking through any desires or callings about priesthood they might be experiencing. This might be with a parent or a teacher or a priest in an appropriate setting.

All in all, the important attitude for any young person to foster is generosity with God. Just like Samuel in the Bible (1 Samuel 3): “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!”
How do I explore a Calling to Priesthood?

Once you start thinking that you may have a vocation to priesthood, you are faced with the obvious question, WHERE?
There are two levels to the answer to this question:

  1. General vocation. Is God calling me to be a diocesan priest or a priest in active religious life or  monastic/contemplative life?
  2. Specific Group. This is where we usually run into most of our practical difficulties. There seem to be so many possibilities. So how do we narrow it down to one? Which diocese or which religious family should I enter?

Here are some guidelines to help you.

  1. Renew your belief in God’s providence. God is the one calling you, he will make sure you have the opportunity to meet the group he is calling you to.
  2. Therefore you do not have to chase down every possibility, find out about every diocese, investigate every seminary, convent, monastery and ecclesial movement.
  3. What depends on you is not the call but the answer.
  4. Check up on the signs of a possible vocation, to see if you have them.
  5. If you can, get a spiritual director – your parish priest or vocations promoter/director might be able to help you find one.
  6. Many dioceses have a discernment group where you can meet and pray with others (often these are mixed groups) and help each other to discern God’s calling – here in Portsmouth Diocese we have a group for those aged 16-30 as well as opportunities for those who are slightly older. For more information contact the vocations promoter
  7. In most cases, we already have some contact with or knowledge of the group God is calling us to as we begin our search. Start looking into the ones you are already familiar with.
  8. Your interest is only one ingredient of the vocation. The second is their interest in you…
  9. There is always an element of risk in following the vocation. Rarely will you be 100% of your vocation, but you should be 100% sure that you want to try it.

Practical steps.

1. Visit the places that interest you.
2. Spend some time with them to get to know the lifestyle
3. See if there is a “click”, if you feel at home there.
4. Speak with their vocation director.
5. Stop thinking about yourself.
6. Start thinking about how you can help others.
7. Pray.
8. Receive the Sacraments regularly (Eucharist and Confession).
9. Talk with your own spiritual director.
10. Don’t worry if you are a little afraid, it means you have your head on.
11. Don’t worry what your friends might think. This is between you and Christ.
12. Remember, you are not alone in this. Most people now living their vocation have been through it, and are more than ready to aid you in your discernment.
Many people you do not know and who don’t know you are praying for you

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