“Ask a Priest: As a Priest, How Would I Deal With Suspicions About the Clergy?”

Q: I am considering priesthood strongly. In light of recent events, how can I become a priest and deal with the assumption given by people that all priests are predators? Also, where should I start with this desire for the priesthood? My parish priest? – H.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s admirable that you are willing to consider priesthood, even amid all the scandals that recently have come to light.

It’s good to remember that a vocation comes from Christ. Which means that he will give a man the grace necessary to carry out the vocation.

What that means specifically is that Christ would give you the grace to live in a society that is much more skeptical of the clergy.

To be honest, not everyone assumes that all priests are predators. There are a lot of people — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — who don’t blame every priest for the faults of others in the clergy.

This isn’t to downplay the enormous task ahead of us to rebuild trust in priests. For now, it is understandable if a priest has to earn trust rather than simply presume it.

Ultimately, the priesthood is a work of Christ. And he won’t abandon his priests any more than he would abandon his Bride, the Church, for whom he gave his life.

If you want to pursue priesthood, yes, your parish priest might be a person with whom to start. From there you might contact the vocation director for the diocese if you feel drawn to the secular clergy. If you feel drawn to religious life, you might consider contacting the respective order’s vocation director.

Whatever next step you choose, I’d this do-it-yourself Retreat Guide on what vocation means and how to go about discerning one: Called and Chosen — A Retreat Guide on Vocation and the Calling of St. Matthew.

One notion is worth keeping in mind: Whatever you do, do it for love of Christ. This is a secret for perseverance. If anyone pursues or enters the priesthood for any lesser motive, he runs the risk of ruin.

For now, keep up a solid prayer life and sacramental life. And cultivate a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She whose only command in the Gospels was “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5), will certainly be interceding for you if her Son calls you to holy orders.

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