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“Ask a Priest: What If a Guy I Like Is Thinking of the Priesthood?”
Q: I have found myself in a tricky situation. I met a good Catholic man. We became close. He told me he really liked me, and he had even considered dating me. But at the same time his mind was occupied with the question of whether he was called to be a priest. So, we decided to stay friends until he makes the decision. But after two months I realized this is much harder than I expected. We restricted our contact so that we only talk once a week in a phone call. But I am not sure whether this is a right approach. It hurts me because I don’t know how he decides, and I don’t know if there ever will be something between us. On the other hand, I really want to support him, but it is so hard for me. He gave himself a year to decide whether he enters a seminary or not. What should I do? Should I leave him alone until he decides, or should I continue in this friendship and try to support him? Thank you for your advice. – T.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: A situation like this is always delicate, and ultimately it is something that only you can decide.
That said, I offer a few observations.
First, if a young man is seriously thinking of the priesthood, he should start to live as someone who intends to embrace lifelong celibacy.
This would normally entail not dating, since healthy dating is done with a possible eye toward marriage.
If he can’t handle life without a girlfriend or even a woman for whom he has feelings, he won’t be able to handle life without a wife.
Second, serious discernment about the priesthood requires a man to intensify his life of prayer, the sacraments, spiritual reading, and spiritual direction, etc. For him to be involved in a relationship with a woman would simply be too much of a distraction, I dare say.
Third, and this is related to the second point, your very presence in his life could complicate and muddle his discernment.
Moreover, it could set you up for heartache later. You might get very attached to him, only to have him drop the relationship in a year or so if he joins the seminary.
This is personal advice, by the way. Other people might give you a different take.
In any case, you might want to take some of this to prayer.
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