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Discernment insights

The world needs more priests. Surely, God is calling men in sufficient numbers. So, why aren’t seminaries filled to capacity? Part of the problem is that vocations can be subtle and easily missed.


I was not one of those toddlers who used a blanket chasuble and toy kitchen set to play Mass. Nor did I ever receive some obvious sign. My call came as a pattern of recurring thoughts: I wonder what it would be like to be a priest … seems like it could be cool. Would I be good at it if I tried? How do people know if they should try? I wonder … Oh well, that kind of thing is for others to worry about, not me.


It was not until after about two years of dismissing these thoughts when I finally realized: maybe that’s the call. I didn’t think a vocation, a supernatural gift from God oriented to my ultimate happiness, could be so understated. By the grace of God, I eventually realized that I had to look into it. I reached out to a priest I knew well and then to the vocations director of the Diocese of Arlington. Eventually, I applied to the seminary, and upon arrival, went on to have the most spiritually and personally enriching year of my life.


There is no officially recognized sign that must come before taking positive action toward discerning your vocation. Sometimes God calls with some unmistakable signal grace, but at other times the call might seem mundane. Sometimes God calls us loudly by name and strikes us blind on the road to Damascus, but at other times he makes his presence known in a small whispering sound.


If you’re a single man and you’re wondering even a little whether I’m talking about you, the answer is yes. Your potential vocation to the priesthood is just as worthy as anyone’s, no matter what it feels like at this stage. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait. Get in touch with a priest, and deliberately discern your vocation starting right now. You have nothing to lose, and a beautiful gift from God to gain.


Courtney, who is from St. Rita Church in Alexandria, is in his second year of pre-theology studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018