How do I discern my calling to priesthood or brotherhood?

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I have felt a calling to become a priest or brother for many years and do not want to put it off any more. What should I do? —Robert B.

Some of us know and respond instantly to a calling from God. Others, like you and me, hear God’s call gradually and sometimes over the course of many years. These “in between” times are always worthwhile as God’s call deepens within us and we grow in our understanding of ourselves and God.

You seem to be at a crossroads and ready to explore God’s call more intentionally. A first step is to get to know priests and brothers and their way of life. That can be done casually or formally, whatever works best for you at first. See how it feels to imagine yourself in their way of life and involved in their mission. It may help to learn more about the particular vocations to become a diocesan priest, a religious priest, or a religious brother. You’ll find more information about these vocations on the FAQ page of this website.

While you actively explore what it’s like to be a brother or priest, be sure to take all of these experiences to prayer. Check in with God daily, telling God of your desires, feelings, and thoughts. And don’t forget to listen! Spend time in silence, opening your heart to God. For some guidance, read through the article ”Four steps to hearing your call” by Benedictine Sister Anita Louise Lowe. You might also consider working with a spiritual director, someone who is skilled in helping people discern God’s calling in their lives.

Another avenue for discerning God’s call is to engage in some form of ministry. Become a catechist at your parish, volunteer as at a hospice, advocate for those in need as a board member or in your job, spend your vacation time on a service trip.

And if you are doing these things, and still feel drawn to become a priest or brother, then get in touch with the vocation director of your local diocese (for diocesan priesthood) or in the religious community with whom you feel most at home. It may simply be time to go for it!

My prayers are with you as you move more deeply into God’s calling to you.

Reprinted with permission from ©TrueQuest Communications.

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