The Priesthood Question

As a young lay man working for the Church — and I have no reason to believe that I am unique in this — I am often asked, in job interviews and when I tell people what I do, if I had ever considered the priesthood.

It’s an honest question, and one I don’t mind answering, but it definitely belies a certain attitude that if you’re male and interested in “churchy” stuff, then you must be called to the priesthood.

The truth is that I’ve never felt called to the ministerial priesthood. I thought about it when I was very little, in the same way I thought it would be cool to be an astronaut or doctor, but at no point did I ever feel the tug on my heart. Similarly, I was never told by anyone that I would make a good priest “ except for one priest, right after I had asked him to celebrate my wedding Mass. (I don’t feel slighted in this; I don’t think I would make a good priest!)

At the same time there have been times during my theological studies when I asked myself if I shouldn’t have been more interested in the priesthood. Knowing that the Church is in need of priests, should I have at least “tried it on” by going to a seminary? With the need so great, wouldn’t the Church have been better off with me as a “bad priest” than as a “good lay man?”

The answer, of course, is no. I am quite certain that God has put me where he needs me to be right now.

And it’s not as if my life won’t contribute to the priesthood. My wife and I get comments on a regular basis that our two oldest boys would make good priests. And a month or so ago my wife and I found out that our fifth child, due in September, will be our fourth boy. We were disappointed at first — we had been hoping for another little girl — but I’m beginning to wonder if this, too, isn’t part of God’s plan for me and priesthood.

Maybe I’m not being called to the priesthood, but it sure seems as if I’m being called to raise sons for the priesthood.