Am I Called?
A call to priesthood in the Church is much more than just an individual, personal
desire to serve and lead. While the call comes from God, it is mediated through
the People of God, the Church. With input from the whole Church and assistance
from professionals in the areas of discernment and formation, bishops are the
ones who are entrusted with the responsibility of determining whether or not
any candidate’s sense of being called is genuine. That determination is largely
based on three factors:
- Does the candidate believe that God wants him to become a priest? Is
this belief rooted in a solid, fruitful prayer life? Has it been tested in
conversations with a spiritual director?
- Does the candidate have some or all of the gifts and talents that other
members of the community of faith can recognize as the sort of gifts that
could make him effective as a priest? Have any others in the Church pointed this out?
- Has the candidate demonstrated the ability to complete a course of studies in
preparation for the priesthood? Are his skills for ministry strengthening and
deepening with experience? Is he growing in love for the Church, that is, for the
people he may be called to serve, and those with whom he will share leadership?
Of course, these factors are usually not fully developed in any candidate when he first
applies to the seminary, but there should at least be evidence in him of the potential to
develop them. The unfolding of these gifts, talents and attitudes continues throughout the
time of formation, and the discernment of a call to ordination also matures and deepens over
the years. In fact, this discernment is not really complete until the very day of ordination