Society of St. Peter and Paul Seminary

Society of St. Peter and Paul Seminary

Vocation to Catholic Priest

Discerning Vocation to Priesthood & Religious Life


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once estimated that about one out of three Catholics (~33%) have a vocation to the consecrated life. Yet today, less one in every twenty-thousand Catholics (~0.005%) are consecrated religious. These statistics, if even remotely accurate, help us to better understand the difficulty Catholics face today when discerning a religious vocation, that is; that many either do not hear the call of God, or hear but do not listen.
alt"Religious life derives from the mystery of the Church. It is a gift she has received from her Lord, a gift she offers as a stable way of life to the faithful called by God to profess the counsels. Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Saviour's bride. Religious life in its various forms is called to signify the very charity of God in the language of our time." - Catechism of the Catholic Church
Ordination to Deaconate in the Roman Catholic Church: Chanting Litany of the Saints.
One need not have absolute certainty of a calling to the religious life in order to have a genuine vocation. If there is but a seed of desire within the soul, then this is enough reason to water and cultivate this seed, to see whether is takes root or not. And the best way to have greater certainty, is to visit the communities in person (many of them!), as well as your diocese vocations office.

What is a Vocation?

In the simplest terms, “vocation” means a “call.” So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life. Everybody is called by God to know, love and serve him. The difference is how each one does this. Individual vocations vary between being single, married, consecrated, religious or a priest. However, we usually use “Vocation” to mean a call to the consecrated, religious or priestly life. That is what we do on this website, but the principles and much of the advice are also applicable to the married and the single life. . In the one life God gave you to live, you have one overriding purpose, to fulfill the will of God, because this is the key to your true destiny, eternal happiness.God gives each one of us a particular mission in life. As we grow and life progresses, he makes it known to us, usually in indirect ways, more as an invitation than an imposition.Discovering and ultimately following your vocation gives the greatest glory and praise to our Creator. It is what we were meant to do.“Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  

altThe call to the religious vocation is a call to total self-sacrifice for Christ and His Church. Although it is a life which requires that you "lay down your life" (i.e. your own personal interests and comforts) in order to serve others and God, Jesus promised that "he who loses his life for My sake will save it." The religious life is considered as the most perfect of the states of life, not because priests or nuns are necessarily any better than married or single people, but because the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience which religious take, involve the renunciation of everything that human beings most prize: possessions, marriage, and power. To dedicate oneself wholly to the service of God and work "in His vineyard," leaving everything for love of Him, is a truly beautiful act, if it is the one to which you are called.

Ever since the early days of the Church, some Christians, both men and women, have practiced celibacy and devoted themselves to prayer, penance, and various apostolates. Some of them remained in the world in the service of the Church, and others left everything and went out into the desert to be alone with God. The beginnings of religious orders came in the third century A.D., when groups of hermits began to be organized into communities with a specific rule and a superior. Eventually, religious orders arose from this basis.

Do this in memory of me: Lk 22:19.Institution of the Eucharist.
altPractical Tips for Discernment
The following are a few points that one might follow during the discernment process.
1.Take action. Religious communities welcome discerning guests to stay with them. Make arrangements to visit certain communities for a short period of time (perhaps 4-6 days). They will provide you with food, shelter, water, shower, bathroom - in short, everything you need. All you need to bring is yourself, changes of clothes, and perhaps some work clothes.
2.Repeat #1. If a man were to approach marriage in the same way that some people approach discerning religious life, then he would remain single all his life. He might read books about relationships, or research dating on the internet, but would never actually spend time with the woman he is to court, to get to know her personality, to see whether she is to be his future wife. In much the same way, discerning religious life requires more than reading or conducting research on the internet. The more exposure one has to religious communities, the better position they will be in to make an informed decision. At the very least, a person should grant the same amount of exposure to discerning a religious vocation, as was granted to past relationships. In the mean time, by pursuing this higher calling and making visits to various communities, a soul will begin to grow in ways that it could not have otherwise. The time spent visiting religious communities, if even a few days at a time, will be of great benefit to the soul, both for its discernment and well-being.
3.Consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ask Her to take you under Her maternal of care. Saint Louis De Montfort stated that a soul that is a devoted child of Mary, is a soul that can easily and quickly attain the highest degrees of perfection possible. Ask Our Lady to take you by the hand on the path that brings the greatest glory to her Son. And do not be surprised when She does. Do not be surprised if, after having continually asked for this grace, you wake up one day and find your heart burning with a new love for Her, eager to respond to Her gentle request; "Will you follow My Son?"
4. Avoid relationships with those of the opposite gender, and all other potential distractions. At the very least, give primacy of place to time spent discerning religious life. Give the respect due to the higher calling. If God wants you to be married, then He will send the right person in due time, and you can be sure that it was His will, and not your own.
5. Frequent the Sacraments. Go to confession often, and to daily Mass if possible. Also spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration daily, if possible. It is unimaginable how many graces God grants a soul through Eucharistic Adoration. It is also important to find a competent spiritual director, if possible. Do not trust your feelings, but allow God to direct you under the direction of a wise and learned priest, preferably one who has experience in religious life or ample training in mystical theology.
6. Try to live the religious life while you are still in the world. Wake up early and spend some time in prayer or spiritual reading. Mortify yourself at meals, stop watching TV. Before going to bed, spend time in prayer and make an examination of conscience for your actions for the day. Fast on bread and water on Fridays. Try to remain recollected while you work. All these examples will help be a test of your vocation.
7. Remember that there is no commitment. Even if you were to formally enter a community as a postulant, you do not take perpetual vows until 6-8 years into religious life. The postulancy and novitiate periods are considered times of ongoing discernment, and a person is free to leave at any point if they feel God calling them elsewhere.

altQualities of a Candidate for the Priesthood
Do you have the necessary qualities to be a priest? Read these signs of a vocation to the priesthood and see if God is calling you!
•    A love for the Catholic faith
•    Generosity
•    A desire to help other people
•    A personal relationship with God
•    A Capacity and desire to learn
•    A respect for other people
•    Openness to other cultures and ethnic groups
•    Ability to work collaboratively
•    Good social skills
•    The ability to enjoy one's own company and a variety of friendships
•    The courage to take risks
•    A healthy self-image
•    The ability to state an opinion that might differ from that of others

A Call to Catholic Priesthood: Here I am Lord, I come to do Your Will.

Ordination to Deconate
I rejoiced when I heard them say let us go to Gods House.
Mary Mother of God Pray for us.
alt alt alt
Jesus said, without me you can do nothing

What Is a Priest?

You can’t understand what a priest is unless you understand what the Church is, and you can’t understand what the Church is unless you understand who Christ is and what Christ means.


The Church hierarchy deals with this linkage of priesthood, Church, and Christ in a recurrent pattern that examines each of them under three aspects, three interrelated points of view. The three points of view are: prophet (or teacher), sanctifier (or priest), and leader (or king).

Christ is prophet, sanctifier, and leader. His mission on earth was – and is – to speak for His heavenly Father, to manifest and proclaim God’s love for His human creatures. That’s what it means to be a prophet. Christ is also sanctifier, or priest, that is, one called and empowered to serve as connection between God and the people he represents.

As priest, Christ represents His people to the Father and, in turn, represents the Father to His people in the context of love and dedication that we call worship. As leader (or king, or shepherd, or pastor), Christ has the mission to bring all created reality into oneness in and under God. Christ is the ultimate source of unity between humankind and its Creator. These three aspects of Christ’s mission are obviously interrelated. Speaking for the Father and offering human worship to the Father and bringing all creation together under the headship of the Father all work together. Each aspect of Christ’s mission influences and colors the others. There is one Christ, one mission, that we look on from three different directions.

It’s the same with the Church. The Church’s mission is an extension and a continuation of the mission of Christ. Basically, the Church is a gathering of ordinary men and women called by God and sent out into the world to bring Christ’s salvation to it. The Church has a prophetic role: to manifest to the world the love of the Father in Christ.

The Church as a whole – as well as each of its members – is responsible for announcing the gospel to all of humanity. The Church has a priestly or sanctifying role, too. Its vocation is to offer fitting worship to God and to bring the world into a posture of worship. It does this by participating in the sacraments as God’s people and by offering the world the holiness of God through Christ. Thus the Church serves as corporate and visible connection between the world and God. In view of all this, it’s easy to see that the Church has a unifying or leadership function as well. It is called to bring God’s world into oneness in corporate and visible response to God’s message of love.


This brings us to the ordained priesthood. Ordained ministry is a special calling within the Church to enable and assist the Church to be what it is called to be. Ordained ministers teach the Church in the name of Christ and guide it to faithfulness in belief. Ordained ministers preside in the name of Christ at the Church’s worship and, in turn, represent the people in that worship. Ordained ministers provide a center of unity for the Church as representatives of Christ.

They are responsible for keeping the Church together as one. The ordained ministry in the Church, therefore, is prophetic and priestly and charged with leadership.

(It is necessary to mention here that there are three levels of ordained ministry in the Church: bishops, priests, and deacons.

Deacons are called to assist the bishops and priests in their respective ministries.

The bishop is the head of the local church, its chief teacher, chief sanctifier,Modern day Apostle. chief source of unity. The priest is the extension of the bishop in the tasks of teaching, sanctifying, and leading in various ways at local levels.

For the sake of clarity, I’ll be dealing from now on mainly with priests.

The priest is prophet, sanctifier, and leader in a way that is different from the prophetic, priestly, and unifying mission of the Church at large. The Church at large represents and extends the saving mission of Christ to the world at large. The ordained priest, on the other hand, represents and extends the saving mission of Christ to the Church. If the Church configures Christ as lord and Savior of the world, the priest configures Christ as the head of the Church.

He speaks to the Church in the name of Christ, represents the Church (with Christ) in prayer to the Father, and serves as the “in-house” leader to keep the Church together in carrying out its call to be Church.

This is not to say that the priest is in some sort of watertight compartment within the Church and totally removed from the world at large. In some situations, where the Church is in its infancy, it is the priest who has to manifest Christ to the world at large because the few members of the church are yet unable to carry out their appropriate mission. Generally, even in more developed areas of the Church, the priest serves as spokesman and representative of the Church community. In addition to that, as a baptized individual the priest also has his own individual responsibilities as a Christian believer in the world. But the primary and principal responsibility of the priest is to the household of the Church, just as the responsibility of lay members of the Church is primarily and principally to the world at large.

SSPP Nuns (Coming soon)

1) Postulancy: 6 months to a year. Three-quarter length habit of the same material as the professed Sisters’ habits, blue cape, short navy blue veil with white trim, Miraculous Medal. 

2) Novitiate: one year of cloistered, intensive training. Full-length blue habit with blue scapular, white veil, Miraculous Medal, and large 5-decade rosary at the right side.

3) First vows: the Sister takes her place in the active apostolate but continues to receive training and instruction. White veil is exchanged for a navy blue veil with white lining. 

4) Three-year vows: active apostolate, continued instruction until final profession of vows. Receives large brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to wear in place of the blue scapular on special feast days. 

5) Final profession: perpetual vows. Receives gold ring of profession. The first step, the postulancy, consists of a period of six months to a year during which the candidate lives with the Sisters, follows, their schedule, prays with them, and is trained in the duties and obligations of the religious life.

Did she leave a home and family behind her? Now she has a new one — a home full of joyous, generous hearts, a family of loving companions she quickly comes to know and love. All this is just part of that hundredfold Christ promised to those who follow Him. Did she leave behind material possessions? While this involves some degree of sacrifice, she now finds herself free to dedicate herself entirely to the work of the apostolate. He Who clothes the lilies of the field and provides for the little sparrows, cares infinitely more for the needs of His brides who have given up all to serve Him.... Next, if both the candidate and her superiors feel that she indeed has a vocation, she is given her religious habit and a new name — after one of God's saints as well as the name of His Mother.

She enters into that formative period known as the novitiate, a year of intense spiritual preparation for her first vows. During this time she is instructed in the spiritual life, the Holy Rule and the obligations of the vows. At the completion of the year, if the novice and her superior feel she is ready, she takes her first vows, which are for one year only.

The Sister then takes her place in the active apostolate of the Congregation — either in hidden labours of unseen service, or active work in Catholic education or the Catholic press.

Whatever her assigned duty, she strives to remember that her Holy Rule would have her to be “Mary’s visible hands at work in the world, striving to bring about the reign of justice and truth.” At the end of this year under vows, the Sister may renew her vows for a period of three more years.

Only after at least four years of temporary vows is a Sister allowed to make her perpetual profession. The ceremony for perpetual profession is inexpressibly beautiful. The Sister is arrayed as a bride on her wedding day. When the bishop places the ring of profession on her finger, it is Christ Himself Who espouses her. In response she replies: “To Jesus, my heart, my all, forever....” Those words are also engraved on the inside of her ring to remind her that she now belongs wholly to Christ, the Bridegroom of her soul.

The Roman Catholic Society of St.Peter and Paul