Sunday, October 18, 2009

Three months into Year of the Priest and I'm thinking "late vocations."

Earlier suggestions about how we might productively pray during the Vatican-proclaimed Year of the Priest generated an unprecedented number of comments on this blog.

As ever, I don't know whether to be thrilled or frightened by some of the ire I managed to generate, some of which oozed over onto Deacon Greg Kandra when he had the generous guts to reference my post on The Deacon's Bench. C'est la church vie, I guess.

And although I really am not looking for more trouble, recent news about "A Mother, a Sick Son and His Father, the Priest" has stimulated some new and improved thoughts about how we might pray for the Roman Catholic priesthood this year.

Hey! Let's focus on praying for what are known as "late" or "delayed" vocations! These are commonly defined as candidates who pursue the priesthood between ages 40 and 45. In rare instances, religious orders will consider older candidates.*

In case it's not obvious, my suggestion is anchored in wanting priests to be grounded in realities shared by the people they serve. Call me crazy -- and you wouldn't be the first -- but I believe this would help ensure a more respectable and respected priesthood. I'd like candidates for the priesthood to be adults who have experienced some or all of the following:
  • Falling in love and sustaining a relationship beyond limerance.
  • Having at least 5 and preferably 10 years of psychotherapy that's both analytic as well as cognitive-behavioral; individual and group.
  • Changing jobs and having more than one complete career.
  • Being treated as a valued member of a work (not sports) team.
  • Reporting to an arbitrary and abusive boss.
  • Getting deservedly fired.
  • Having transcendently wonderful sex more than once and with another human being.
  • Serving as a caregiver for someone who is either physically challenged or terminally ill.
  • Applying to receive government financial assistance for self or others.
  • Seeing a baby being born in real life (preferably vaginally).
  • Financing and making payments on a home.
  • Losing everything and starting over.
* Note: "consider" does not mean "accept." Separation of church and state means churches cannot be sued for age discrimination under federal law.


  1. imagine a priest well acquainted with our sorrow & grief... by the wise considered a fool... I like where this is going... I like it a lot...

  2. I know two priests ordained in the last year in the Diocese of Saginaw (which needs every well-formed priest it can get). One is in his 50s, one was 70 (widowed after many years of a Godly marriage). I think the Church is better off for having both of them.

  3. And oh the irony of allowing priests ordained in other traditions to bring their families along with them when they ditch those other traditions to become Catholic.


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