“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
– John 20:21-23
Jesus still calls men to be priests just as He called the apostles. It is through the priesthood that God continues the salvation of the world. This is accomplished through a number of means including pastoral work, proclamation of the Holy Word of God, and the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
While discerning a life in the priesthood – or any vocation – can be overwhelming, recognizing that others are experiencing the same thing can be helpful. As can hearing others’ stories about their discernment journey. So, let’s start at the beginning…
Am I Being Called? The reality is that everyone has been called by God to live their life in a particular vocation. And at the heart of every vocation in life is the search for meaning. But discerning a life in the priesthood is a special calling that a man feels when God is calling him to help in his work of the salvation of souls, including his own.
Everyone’s call from the Lord is unique, as God speaks to each of us in ways that only we understand. But there are a few Signs You Are Being Called By God, and recognizing these can help you hear the voice of God in your life. Listening to God’s voice can help you to determine whether you are being called by God for a life of ministry.
What is Discernment? Rather than asking God to bless your life in the way in which you have chosen to live and serve Him, discernment is choosing to serve Him in whichever way He invites you. In order to fully become what God wants you to be, you must be willing to listen and hear God speak His desire for your life.
Not long after taking over as Vocations Director, Father William Hahn sat down for a conversation about his personal discernment journey, and how he hopes to help others answer God’s call. He says, “When you are discerning, be open to how God is speaking to you. God has a unique and exciting pathway for you that’s going to be an adventure that only you can walk upon.“
When discerning, it can be helpful to meet with others who are also considering a vocation to the priesthood. A nationwide initiative, the Melchizedek Project is a spiritual discernment group that helps high school and college-aged men consider a vocation to the Priesthood. With different meeting times and places throughout the Diocese of Columbus, the Melchizedek Project helps men hear the call of Jesus Christ and discover their true vocation.
If you are confident that you are hearing God’s call to the priesthood, you then need to understand the Steps to Becoming a Priest. The process of becoming a Catholic priest varies for everyone, and depends on a number of factors. Most men, however, can expect to spend at least four years, and more likely six to eight years in formation before being ordained a priest. The formation process includes studies, discernment with peers and mentors, and a period of time during which the discerning candidate can grow into and contemplate on his vocation.