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How does Someone Become a Catholic Priest?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Becoming a Catholic priest is much like studying for any other vocation. Participation in studies to become a priest does not obligate one to finally be a priest any more than going to law school means one must become a lawyer. Usually to become a priest, one must fulfill many requirements.

The first requirement to become a priest is that one must be male and unmarried. There are actually a few married priests, who were formerly Episcopalian ministers who converted to Catholicism. Because they were previously married, they were not asked to take the vow of celibacy. However this is a very rare exception, and normally a married man would not be allowed as a candidate for the priesthood. A married man may become a church deacon and so help the church, but he is often required to promise not to remarry should his wife predecease him.

After determining one might like to become a priest one either joins a seminary after high school, or goes to college. A college degree could be in liberal arts or religious studies. Classes emphasizing public speaking and writing are helpful. One can study at either or secular or a religious college. Attending a Catholic college is encouraged since it is thought the college will give the potential priest more access to other priests and opportunities for service in the church.

If upon finishing college, a man still wants to become a priest he will join a seminary. If the man joins a seminary without college, education to become a priest takes eight years. With a college degree, time in the seminary is usually four years. During the time in the seminary, men are encouraged not to pursue romantic relationships. However establishing friendship with both men and women is encouraged.

Should a man find in a few years that he would prefer a life that involves marriage to a woman, he may leave the seminary. Often men have made this choice prior to entering the seminary, and it is not, as depicted so often in films, the case that priests must make a final choice between romance and priesthood.

The Vatican is clearly opposed to homosexuality. As a result of Church policy, a homosexual man who is sexually active would be asked to leave the seminary and reconsider his life. Official Church policy is also against ordaining even celibate gay men as priests although it is assumed that some gay priests exist, keeping their sexual orientation a secret.

The four years in the seminary, or eight for high school graduates, are both instructional and spiritual. One learns all the Catholic law, the history of Catholicism, and the way in which people minister to a parish. The man wishing to become a priest is also asked to continue to reflect on his desire to serve, and as well to seek greater union with God.

After finishing at the seminary, one first becomes a deacon for about a six-month appointment. Should this experience of serving in the church lead the man to feel he should still become a priest, then he may take his vows and enter the priesthood. This is a sacred vow, not lightly broken, so seminary preparation continues to question a person’s desire to make this decision.

In addition to education and vows, the man who would like to become a priest is also now subject to background checks, which thoroughly research past history of criminal sexual behavior. The recent scandals in the church involving the molestation of children and subsequent cover-ups mean that anyone now wishing to become a priest is very seriously scrutinized. As well, since the priest often acts as counselor, he must learn the rules specific to reporting suspected sexual abuse of a child by another member of the priesthood to the secular authorities.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon996406 — On Aug 24, 2016

My great, great, great grandfather was put into the seminary at an early age to become a Catholic priest by his family. At age 24, he told his parents that he didn't want to be a priest and did not want to take the vows. She threatened him that he would be disowned and thrown out of the family. This was in the late 1800's in the USA. He did as she demanded and took the vows and later left the priesthood. Were his vows valid?

By anon992155 — On Aug 18, 2015

The article claims a man must be unmarried to become a priest. Not true. There are several requirements a married man must meet to become a priest.

1. Any children must be grown and on their own (not financially dependent on their father).

2. The wife must agree to her husband becoming a priest.

3. The wife must be financially independent from her husband.

4. The pair must promise to never have sex again.

This is what we were taught in Religion class at a Catholic high school back in the 1960's.

I believe a married woman can also become a nun with the same requirements. Of course, if the spouse has died, requirements 2-4 no longer apply, since the person in question is no longer married.

By anon991436 — On Jun 21, 2015

I am 36, never been married and have a college degree. Can I become a priest?

By anon344699 — On Aug 11, 2013

Older men up to their late 60s, if accepted by a bishop of a diocese, can enter either Pope John XXIII Seminary near Boston, or Sacred Heart Seminary near Milwaukee.

By anon339766 — On Jun 26, 2013

My name is Devon, I'm 17 and I'm graduating next year. My parents have different views on religion and have caused me to become detached from God. I honestly don't know what to believe in anymore.

I've decided to take my own path and become a priest, and in turn find God once again. Now I've done my share of bad stuff a few years back, but nothing I was charged with or got in trouble with the law. I'm in a relationship with a girl but nothing sexual and I will eventually wand to get married, which leads me to my question: after you became a priest can you get married?

By anon337500 — On Jun 05, 2013

Can an only son become a priest without his parents' consent?

By anon334464 — On May 13, 2013

My name is Vincent and l am an African, born in Nigeria and I'm studying in university in Tanzania. I am Catholic and would like to join the priesthood, but I have a problem with my age. I am 37 years old and no community or Diocese wants to take me. What do you think I can do?

By anon333444 — On May 05, 2013

@anon186191: The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist has a lot of young ladies. One of my friends joined two years ago and loves it. May be worth a look!

By anon326609 — On Mar 22, 2013

If a man has a child but was never married, can he still become a catholic priest? Would he be allowed to see his illegitimate child upon becoming a priest?

By anon283589 — On Aug 05, 2012

"After 11 years of formation Mr X becomes a Jesuit Priest..."

What should the Society of Jesus do for Mr X upon learning of his mortal sin?"

This seems pharisaic in tone. Couple of things. Christ is the priest, so regardless of personal failings of priests who carry out His work through the sacraments, they are valid (see the heresy of Donatism). Justice is a Christian virtue and if it was found out that Mr X murdered someone then yes, they should seek justice for the victim. The difficult part to understand, for those who are non-catholic, is the sacrament of reconciliation.

Confessors can in no way use the knowledge gained in a confession outside of the confessional. Now, to confess requires not only contrition but penance afterwards to make reparation for the sin(s) committed. A good confessor could not, just as God does not, force us to implicate ourselves but he should, as God does, encourage us to submit to the justice that is required in such a situation. We must, simply put, make amends for the effects of our sins in order to restore the harmony of creation, that is, justice.

By skl — On Feb 14, 2012

After 11 years of formation Mr X becomes a Jesuit Priest, takes his final vows and goes into apostolic work in a charity for five years. The Society of Jesus finally learns that Mr X committed a mortal sin (murder) before becoming a Jesuit priest. (Mr X was never tried in the justice system.)

What should the Society of Jesus do for Mr X upon learning of his mortal sin?

By anon204015 — On Aug 07, 2011

Actually, the article did not mention Eastern Rite Catholic priests, such as Byzantine Catholic, Melkite Catholic, etc. Eastern Catholic priests in communion with the Holy See (Rome), are allowed to marry, however, they must have a wife before they are ordained to the diaconate.

By anon186958 — On Jun 16, 2011

What if I'm just as committed and just as zealous as an older person? Jesus also alluded to not finishing up personal business or idling before answering his call in the Gospel. I know this is frowned upon but the only rules set in stone are the ten commandments. They might let in someone under 18, even if the chances are slim, but thanks for your advice anyway.

By amypollick — On Jun 14, 2011

@anon186191: I am not Catholic, but neither do I wish to keep anyone from following his or her calling to serve God. Because I find Catholic religious life interesting, I have done quite a bit of research on the subject. I have yet to run across an order that will even consider a candidate before age 18, at minimum, or without a high school diploma, or equivalent. Many orders prefer candidates who have college degrees as well.

I strongly suspect the answer you're getting from God also includes "not right now," but you're determined to do it your way and not God's way. If you want to know how that turns out, read the book of Jonah.

You can major in religious studies or theology in college. I strongly recommend you finish high school, and go to a Catholic university that offers courses in religious studies. I suspect you will find yourself enjoying these classes very much.

Here's another good reason to finish high school: if you aren't accepted to an order, you will be in a terrible position when it comes to employment. Fast food is about your only option, unless you spend another year going to school or getting your GED (if you're in the U.S.). Also, many orders see you not finishing high school as a lack of commitment to something that may seem difficult, but is necessary. How can you do something as difficult as join a religious order if you can't summon up the commitment to finish high school? I know that's not how you see it, but that's how they see it.

I know you're thinking that your calling and your zeal for God should overcome any barrier, and it will. However, religious orders found that, after Vatican II when many of the rules changed, that they didn't have as many applicants to join religious life, but the ones they had who had more life experience under their belts tended to be the ones who stayed with it. These ladies have had a lot of experience in dealing with young women who have a vocation, and they know what they're doing. They pray and seek God's will too, you know.

Don't shortchange yourself by quitting school, especially when the chances of getting accepted to an order are slim to none. God also gave you common sense, and common sense says you need to finish high school and then talk to the sisters. He has given you a calling, but also expects you to have enough common sense to go about it in the way that He has led these orders to accept their candidates.

Your vocation won't expire, and in fact, you may learn about orders in college that you find even more suited to your calling.

Do it God's way if you want Him to honor your vocation.

By anon186191 — On Jun 14, 2011

I don't want to be a priest but would like advice. You all sound very sophisticated. I am 17, female, just finished my junior year, and wish to become a sister.

I feel so strongly called to a religious life that I am quitting high school, even though this is frowned upon, and will try to get into a community that would accept me as I am. It's just so distracting from my religious life and I want to make God the center of my life. I get straight A's, so I am not doing this because I'm not any good at high school. I want to learn what God has to teach me.

There's so much I need to learn, and I can't wait years and years because when you're called, you're called. I don't need calculus or physics to understand Catholicism, but the Carmelite order I want to join is strict about not accepting high school drop-outs or women under 21. I tried to talk to them, but after I mentioned I was 17 they stopped talking to me. I don't think they take me seriously. I have been praying and praying but all Jesus does is tell me to stop worrying and that everything will be all right. But I can't wait. What should I do?

I would be very grateful for any advice, and I thank God that so many young men are answering their callings to priesthood.

By anon185014 — On Jun 10, 2011

The vatican says that before joining seminary, the person should be celibate, even if he has a homosexual orientation.

By anon176123 — On May 14, 2011

I am curious about the key differences between the four college year course first plus an additional four years in the seminary and the eight years in the seminary.

In the first one, the four year college and four year seminary, it is understood that the four years course in college focuses on the subject; psychology, behavioral science, or whatever is required, etc.

In the second one, the eight year stay in the seminary.

What do we do in the first four years and then the remaining four more years? What do we learn?

By anon173241 — On May 06, 2011

I am Vinay (Male). I have been to many retreats and prayers, not only as a catholic but I like to go hear the Word of God from Protestants. And not that i take bread and wine as their Protestant tradition and never will be another religion because from my childhood, I have been Roman catholic and I know Jesus is my Saviour.

Well, we know we're born sinners. Of course i have sinned lots of times. You know what a teenage guy does. And i know my Lord has forgiven me for all my sins because i asked for forgiveness with my tears sometimes and sometimes he opens my mind with his words from Bible.

I am a good, humble, nice guy and I love to help the needy anytime, anywhere but only if it's possible with me and God's grace.

And seeing my work my church priest has done has created a feeling in me to become a priest. He says I'm already an engineer and I have studied. And sometimes he says "If God chooses you then no one can stop him!" And he is encouraging me by telling other people about me, but once i think i disappointed my priest by saying i don't want to become a priest as i know my sins and also want to show my parents what i have still got to do according to family issues everyone has.

But now i think after my higher studies or after getting some good job experience when i'm in a good position, then I'll think of becoming a priest. Always my feelings were like this.

Yes, this is how i feel and God knows what exactly i want to say and what exactly he wants me to become. It's all his will.

By anon173020 — On May 05, 2011

A Bishop agreed to accept an application of a widower aged 67. But no seminary would accept him due to old age. Any seminary who would take him in?

By anon169893 — On Apr 23, 2011

To WGwriter: "Personally, as an American raised Catholic, this restriction never made sense to me..."

There are two reasons why only men can be ordained to the Priesthood.

1. Because Jesus ordained only men. He could have easily ordained some of the women that followed him, but he didn't. I mean, for goodness sake, Our Lady would have been the most obvious candidate for the Priesthood. Conceived without sin, living her entire life without sinning once, but he didn't. Or Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who says in John 11, 27 "I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God." before the man who later says this, and is then made the first Pope. This same man later denies Christ three times. So it's obvious that they weren't picked because they were the most holy followers of Jesus. Then why? We know Jesus is and was perfect, so he wasn't just making a mistake. But then what was it? (This leads to...)

2. Because the priesthood is a spiritual fatherhood. And since women aren't and will never be fathers, they aren't and will never be fathers. They can and should, however, be mothers. Mothers nurture, so spiritual mothers should teach and nurture the people around them in spiritual matters.

By Abraham209 — On Mar 29, 2011

i know that God is calling me out and i know my bible well, but the way the holy spirit has touched me its unbelievable. I was at a retreat a while back and we were all there calling on the holy spirit and it was for the young people and i was calling him to come and i felt as if someone held my hand saying, "i am with you." it was beautiful.

I've felt water on my face, I've felt really hot at times, like i would feel as if i was getting warmer and my heart would be beating. It's awesome. This one time i got touched for a long time was when i was going to share a testimony with my classmates in church and only my heart felt as if it was lit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It was super hot. i wouldn't have to touch my heart -- i would only place my hand over my heart and i would feel heat on it. It's like opening a dryer and putting your face in it. It's awesome.

By Abraham209 — On Mar 29, 2011

My name is Abraham M. and i would like to become a priest,i have been in God's path for a while now. It's probably been about five or six months since i lived my retreat and during retreats or when i would pray, i would receive messages through dreams and i would be touched by the holy spirit so many times.

For example: I've had dreams when i would hold the holy bread or body of God in front of a table with lots of people around and Jesus would reach out to me. I've also had dreams when i would preach the word of God to my family and i would be wearing white, long clothes with the golden scarf priests wear during mass.

I've had biblical texts saying i am chosen to be a priest and also I have had people come to me and tell me, You're going to be a priest, huh" and i wouldn't know them or i didn't know who they were and they didn't know me.

I have talked to a priest before recently and he told me that there were signs one has that they know they are being called and it's a balance of knowing if you want to be a priest or not and being impatient, as in you can't get enough of God that you want to learn more and serve more.

Also i forgot the third one, but i know i have it. I have received so many signs it's not even funny, but the problem is i barely know anything from the bible. I have been reading it, but i feel like i don't know enough yet. In the seminary do they teach us this, because i feel like i need to learn more before i even go to the seminary?

By anon162758 — On Mar 24, 2011

are there any grants or something to become a priest?

By asluckystar — On Mar 23, 2011

My best friend is on his way onto becoming a priest. Unfortunately yes, we still love each other in a very intimate way which makes it difficult for both of us. He always tells me he will love me as his wife, and I feel he will always be my husband. Either he will make it, or his confusion will lead him back home. I just hope God will help him find his true path.

If it were up to me, I would allow every clergyman the right to marry regardless of whether they are Catholic or not. God intended us to Love each other and to procreate, and it should be that way as he intended without discrimination. Until that day comes, I will be praying for every priest who's caught between love and God, and I hope God will let us both win.

By anon158141 — On Mar 06, 2011

at 60, unmarried, the local seminary in trinidad closed. where in the USA, is there a seminary catering to such vocations with someone having a College B.A. degree?

By anon131201 — On Dec 01, 2010

To anon78282: you can't be a priest since you're a girl. The ordination of men is an unbroken tradition that goes back not only to the Apostles but to Christ Himself. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 1577) states: "Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination."

The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.

The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. So sorry priesthood isn't an option for you, but you can become a nun.

By anon130942 — On Nov 30, 2010

What exactly does one have to do to become a priest? My father in Law was going to become a priest but he dropped out after so long being there. we always ask him why he left his dream of being a priest, he always says stuff like the things they were doing weren't holy things, and you can tell in his face when he remembers, it looks like if he was disgusted at what they had to do.

By anon130272 — On Nov 28, 2010

i want to become a priest, but don't know to go about it!

By anon124592 — On Nov 06, 2010

I don't think I comprehend what you're saying anon 123585. Do you mean you'd like to have intercourse with a girl when you're a priest or something else? I'm sure you know priests are celibate, i.e. they cannot marry and have sexual relations.

By anon123585 — On Nov 02, 2010

I am 15 turning 16, I was wondering. I was wondering if it was so bad that I would like to stay with a girl friend when I am a priest, would it be so wrong if we married?

By anon122206 — On Oct 27, 2010

My parents were never married and have since split up. if I become a priest will I ever be able to become a bishop?

By anon119724 — On Oct 19, 2010

I'm a 20 year old proudly catholic girl. Being a priest is one of the most important jobs in the world. As we all know, catholics are a majority here in the world. These are some of the people who have a great influence on the way catholics live their lives but i think that some people who are not catholic try and tarnish our reputation with scandals.

When we as catholics have problems, we usually seek advice from a priest, no matter what the problem is. Marriage, personal or social lives. They are there for us day and night. It's about devoting your life totally to God and his work in serving his people.

Imagine if you were a catholic priest were allowed to get married. I am a 20 year old calling a priest in the middle of the night about this issue I'm having or going through. How would his wife feel about it? No woman, no matter how trusting you are, you will not get annoyed by it.

A priest needs no distractions from his work. I mean totally undivided attention from his duties and vows. A wife and children will complicate things. Let's support them and keep them in our prayers.

By anon111734 — On Sep 17, 2010

I still unsure whether I can finish my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and still become a priest? I know the pope and particular ministers reside in Vatican City and within that there are historians and scholars for all the churches assets. Would the church be in need of a priest who has a bachelors degree in anything.

By DareStiney — On Aug 23, 2010

It doesn't matter if your parents were not married when you were born to become a priest. You need to talk to your parish priest in getting more information on joining the priesthood. He will gladly help you get started.

By anon105879 — On Aug 23, 2010

i want to be a priest and serve God. could someone help me on how to start? jeff

By anon105577 — On Aug 21, 2010

to anon 101736; likewise I'm 15 and intent on becoming a priest. I will pray to keep your faith strong. In Jesus and Mary,

By anon105550 — On Aug 21, 2010

I'm 15 and wish to join the priesthood. does it matter if my parents weren't married when i was born?

By anon101736 — On Aug 04, 2010

I felt that God has called me to become a priest. I am 15 years old and haven't been that spiritually developed and I wasn't catholic; I barely went to church.

Then one day, I felt God told me to convert to catholicism and later to become a priest. So I am now in the process of converting. I am hoping that I will become a priest later in life. I consider myself an orthodox catholic, believing in the traditional concepts of the church. I hope to work in the Vatican someday.

But if it is God's will that I should not do something, then so be it. I would like to attend the North American Pontifical College in Italy and later do my studies there. I ask that you pray for me in my adventure to further my relationship with God. In return may God gracefully be in your presence all the days of your lives! Thank you!

By DareStiney — On Jun 30, 2010

Roman Catholic priests are not high school dropouts! A priest must graduate high school, then go through extensive education in the seminary college for eight more years or, if one has already obtained a four year bachelors degree, seminary school is only four years long. Post number 78 is subjective with their secular ideology in a public university that focuses on human evolution and diverse religions of the world. Priests don't have to learn an evolutionary social science to save souls. Priests are interested in spreading the Catholic faith, not spreading indigenous religions. That's why they go to seminary school, not a public university's PhD program.

By Edward2010 — On Jun 29, 2010

Anyone thinking of becoming a priest should visit medjugorje, pray the rosary and ask our lady for guidance.

By anon88838 — On Jun 07, 2010

i am a 34 year old male and I was married when i was young. I'm no angel but wanted always to do good, even if it's them at fault. I'm catholic and struggled with three sisters' deaths and the third funeral is wednesday.

By anon88187 — On Jun 03, 2010

it's crazy that our spiritual leaders have the education of a high school dropout. i believe that priest should achieve a PhD in an anthropological/humanities/or some other science of the people and past. Without this education how can a prospective priest have less than subjective views about religious practices?

By anon84659 — On May 17, 2010

i think it would be a lot better if priests were allowed to marry. then he could really understand how many people live their lives. where did this celibacy come from?

By anon79698 — On Apr 23, 2010

If you are a member of an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome a male may get married before being ordained a priest.

The eastern rite churches in the United States have not ordained married men since 1929 but the Church canon has changed, and I believe they are now going to ordain married men. Married converts who are clergy in Anglican and some Lutheran ecclesial communities may ask permission from the Pope to be ordained Roman Catholic priest. If the wife would pass away the priest would have to promise of celibacy.

Bishops in the Latin (Roman) and eastern rites may not be married.

By anon78282 — On Apr 17, 2010

I am a girl in seventh grade and want to be a nun, but I've also heard of priests. Can I be a priestess? I've just felt like I want to do something in my life, and honestly I've never really felt any romantic feelings. So can I be one?

By anon70523 — On Mar 14, 2010

someone wrote how can a priest give advice to married couples when they were never married? well a person on death row for murder is represented by a lawyer. does the lawyer have to be a murderer to give him a good defense?

By anon69732 — On Mar 09, 2010

I am so happy to read some of the comments saying that you are being called to be a priest.

I am a catholic and I am a member of the vocations ministry in my parish encouraging priestly and religious vocation.

To be a priest is to have deep love for Christ and to serve with joy in our hearts so that we can bring Christ in everyone that we see and meet.

Trust in the Lord that if God calls you, He will show you the way. Do not worry about qualification, requirements and etc. Anything is possible with God.

My dear friends, I suggest that you personally talk to your parish priest and the priest will help you to reach your destination.

I hope that pray that young people will answer God's call generously and bring Christ in this beautiful but broken world. --Servant of God

By anon69401 — On Mar 08, 2010

Anyone can become either a priest or nun, providing they confess their sins. There are very good devoted nuns and priests but some of them have major problems - you name it they're got them.

One only has to keep abreast with the news of orphanages, boarding schools and The Madeline Sisters. That says it all.

By anon66301 — On Feb 18, 2010

Don't you think that there would be less sexual abuse with children if priests were allowed to get married? Furthermore, how can they give marriage advise, etc. if they are not married?

By anon64450 — On Feb 07, 2010

I would like to clarify "how to become a priest". The priesthood is not something you "get" at college. It is a calling from God that is strengthened through much prayer and a personal relationship with Christ, the High Priest, our brother.

It is a holy calling, not gotten, but received mercifully and unworthily from our Creator to His creation. (So, note that Catholics do not think priests are a god or perfect, but an imperfect servant of God.)

Sure, there is work and study that goes into preparing to live for God's people--to be capable and competent of such a high calling--but the requirements are not the focus of God's call to the priesthood. (It is similar to marriage: I want to be prepared to live my vocation to marriage well, but going to a cooking class is not going to "git" me marriage.)

There are ways of life that are not compatible with being a spiritual father. It is easy to focus on the "cannots", but celibacy is more of a "can". My spiritual father is completely free to be father to us, his flock. It is disappointing that some priests have marred this spiritual fatherhood by abominable acts. But, that does not change the fact that a priest is called to lay down his life for us. Do not think that all priests, or even many priests, are so fallen. Anyway, I am grateful that priests have made such a sacrifice for us, representing God's undivided love for His people.

I would suggest that if people want to know more, go to a good Catholic Church -- not one that waters everything down because they are scared of being different, but one that loves Christ and the Church.

And, if you think God might be calling you, then the first step is to take time in prayer, meeting Christ in the Scriptures. Next, get to know your brothers and sisters in your parish. This is your spiritual family. And there is so much information online. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance searching online as you grow in your faith. God bless!

By anon63077 — On Jan 30, 2010

who changes your name when you become a priest and why the change?

By amypollick — On Jan 25, 2010

Ta2, I am not a Catholic, but I'll try to answer some of your questions and any Catholics who see this post are welcome to correct any errors I may make.

First, yes, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. You'll also need either four years of college and four of seminary or eight years of seminary, as stated in the article. You also must be a practicing, baptized Catholic in good standing.

A Catholic priest is called "Father" and is a priest anywhere in the world he goes. Whether he is in the USA or UK doesn't matter.

Catholic priests do receive a salary and living quarters from the churches where they pastor. Yes, they drive and watch TV and go to movies.

As for your question about the fact that you have a paper that calls you a reverend father, well that may be. However, you are not a Catholic priest because of it. A Catholic priest must be ordained according to the Church liturgy in a Catholic Church.

Ta2, you have a good many questions. Let me suggest you look in the phone book for the Catholic Churches in your area. Call the church and make an appointment to speak with the priest. He will be able to answer all your questions, and give you some guidance about becoming an ordained priest if you feel you are called to the priesthood. Good luck.

By ta2 — On Jan 24, 2010

I am 28. can i be a father? Can a UK man be a father in the USA? Can a USA man be a father in the UK? What if you went to jail many years and then became a reverend. is that OK?

What if you stabbed anyone? can you be a father then? Can you drive? Do you get TV?

Can you have earrings when you're a father?

Gods Will.

Rev. Ta

By ta2 — On Jan 24, 2010

What do you do all day in Church?

Do you get paid? Do you have a PC? Do you watch movies? Do you get a bed?

Where can you be a father at in UK or USA?

Let me know! thanks again!

Gods Will.

Rev. Ta

By ta2 — On Jan 24, 2010

Do you have to go all the way to high school?

Can you have tattoos?

Can you be a DJ or a singer in a band at one time?

How old do you have to be a catholic priest?

Is a reverend the same as a priest or father?

I am a tattoo artist. Can i become a Father?

Do you have to have an associate degree? I do have a paper that i am a reverend father! Is that OK? Is a UK priest "father" the same as a USA priest "father"?

Let me know! thanks again!

Gods Will.

Rev. Ta

By anon60568 — On Jan 14, 2010

If you truly are a believer in the Bible and are of a strong Catholic faith, then you would not stop practicing Catholicism for the sake of priests not being allowed to marry.

I believe that people leave their faith or stop believing all together for very selfish human reasons. I would never allow desires or conveniences get in the way of walking in the path that God intended for us.

By sagumg — On Jan 13, 2010

i am a second year high school student and i want to become a priest. then what should i do?

By anon59311 — On Jan 07, 2010

i am joseph and a married indian catholic. can i become a priest?

By anon58453 — On Jan 02, 2010

I am 21 and I have felt a calling to serve very strongly. My question is: will I be able to enter the seminary after I finish my studies at a state college?

By anon55363 — On Dec 07, 2009

To anon11516: a female priest would be a priestess.

By anon54508 — On Nov 30, 2009

I want to thank the people who have written to answer my questions.

Unfortunately I feel I can not stay with the Catholic faith, because I have a sincere desire to serve God with my whole life -- and I am not able due to being a gay male.

If I could change to be heterosexual I would in a minute, but this is not possible, as it would be possible for a heterosexual man to become gay.

So I will continue my search and remain spiritual.

By anon54336 — On Nov 29, 2009

I'm sorry, i'm not against the gay thing, it's a personal choice. however it is frowned upon within the catholic church as it is written in the bible.

God actually refers to homosexual people as Sodomites and he wiped out sodom and gomorrah. What gets me is the fact that gay people fight for the right to get married in a catholic church when it is clear that even god isn't up for homosexuality.

a wedding is the union of two people in holy matrimony. in the eyes of God it wouldn't be holy, so why fight for it? it's like a black guy fighting for his right to participate in a kkk march (not racist just an example) but you see what i mean?

By anon54149 — On Nov 27, 2009

I cannot understand why the Holy Father is against gay men becoming priests. Celibacy is not just for straight men. Why can't a gay man take a vow of celibacy and become a priest. Why is the Pope so against gay people?

By anon54062 — On Nov 26, 2009

if someone was once a pedophile and was until recently a headmaster of a primary school and his current sexual activities, would it be OK for that man to become a deacon?

someone quoted St Paul as an example of being a murderer who God called. I have nothing against the pedophile being forgiven if he repents and accepts that what he did was wrong.

If, however, the pedophile was arrested and denied his previous pedophile activity even though one of his victims brought charges, would it still be OK for the guy to become a deacon?

By anon53991 — On Nov 25, 2009

Can a single man who is 45 still be able to become a priest?

By anon52832 — On Nov 17, 2009

I just want to say that becoming a priest is one thing that has to do with the calling of god. It really doesn't matter how you've lived your past life. St. Paul was a murderer killing god's people but the day god called his name from heaven, his whole life changed. Also, neither religion, race nor education should stand as a barrier to serving god as a priest.

But one thing is clear with regards from the bible, homosexuals (gay) and lesbians cannot and should never be permitted to become either priests or reverend sisters, monks or nuns, romans 1:26-27. Thank god that our present pope cannot be moved on this subject.

Opie, nigeria

By anon50865 — On Nov 01, 2009

why can women or gay men not become a priest?

By anon47302 — On Oct 03, 2009

Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox priests can get married, as long as it is prior to their ordination. Remember, the Catholic Church is made up of both the Western Rite (there is only 1 Western Rite, the Roman Catholic Rite)and the Eastern Rites (there are 20). In other words there is no such thing as universal celibacy in the Catholic Church, since it is only mandated in the West but optional in the East.

By anon46677 — On Sep 28, 2009

i am 26 years old and a graduate from university and i want to become a priest in nigeria. i need guidelines on how to register myself. celestine from adamawa state nigeria

By anon43385 — On Aug 28, 2009

Thank you Fr Anthony. I agree with you that getting a theological education by distance learning STB or BA in Theology is bound to impress any Bishop. (Roman or Old Catholic) after all they too are recognized by Rome. There are now courses for the mature man if you have a theological education from only 2 years. Fr David

By Franthony — On Aug 28, 2009

Hi as a priest myself, I'd like to tell people if you cannot for whatever reasons be a priest, why do you not consider the Old Catholic Church. They do a great STB Degree. Regards Fr Anthony

By anon39814 — On Aug 04, 2009

i am 21 years old, and am seeking for admission into university, but i have strong feelings to become a priest, and am no longer a virgin. can i still become a priest?

By anon39597 — On Aug 03, 2009

What is the "easy" way to become a priest ? Is there an online seminary or online college on the net where one, without many checks, can easily get a license as a priest?

By anon37272 — On Jul 18, 2009

if a priest chooses to leave the priesthood, is he still able to receive the sacrements, i.e. holy communion and penance?

By jllevy123 — On May 21, 2009

I am a 54 year old man who was not raised Catholic but I feel a calling to the priesthood. I do not have a college education. Can I go directly to seminary? I wish for total immersion into Catholicism. Thank you.

By ibmarti1 — On Mar 09, 2009

Question, can a divorced man enter priesthood?

By tsellisjr — On Feb 08, 2009

To anon25625:

If an affair between a Parish Priest and a married woman was exposed, which led to the dissolution of the marriage, the Priest would most certainly be removed from the Priesthood.

You have revealed nothing which would bar you from seminary studies. So only you only know the right time.

To Looksforsigns,

Yes, they would have to finish their high school education and attend college.

By anon25625 — On Feb 01, 2009

If an rev. priest had an affair with a married woman, ruin the family and report him to the monsenior. what would his punishment be?

By lookforsigns — On Jan 16, 2009

If someone wants to become a priest but didn't finish high school would he then be able to still go to the seminary or would he have to go back to school?

By anon24665 — On Jan 16, 2009

I'm 34 years old i was a playboy and kind of bad boy guy before but i am confused to become a priest or not by the way i am single and no girlfriend since 1998 and had a degree in college major in business management i need someone to tell me is this the right time for me to enter in seminary and enter priesthood?

By NagiTakashi — On Jan 12, 2009

if one who wishes to become a priest is born as a woman but gets a sex change and becomes legally male, can that male become a priest?

By astrolodger — On Dec 03, 2008

Can you become a priest if you were previously married and your marriage has been annulled?

By mkmccul — On Nov 09, 2008

Can a man who had a child before entering the seminary be a priest? He has never been married.

By sable — On Oct 24, 2008

What is a chalice?

By sable — On Oct 24, 2008

what is a Deacon?

By anon18954 — On Oct 02, 2008

I am 21 years old and currently have 2 associates degrees in a computer related field. Im also a junior at a 4 year college - which in fact, i still have a computer major. I have considered about becoming a priest around last year before i started my degree path of the computer field, but never really acted on this feeling. I feel Gods calling stronger now than ever. But I don't know how to tell my parents that I want to become a priest instead of doing what im doing now especially if I already have loans for school?

By anon18333 — On Sep 20, 2008

For any ambitious person the church would make a great career move, just think how many old priests and bishops are dying-if you played your cards right you could make cardinal in 15 years. I agree with the corrupt priest statement above.

By barekman666 — On Jul 19, 2008

what american college would a person go to?

By anon14817 — On Jun 24, 2008

Does anyone know less strictive academic requirements in becoming a Priest. What if you don't speak English or Spanish as a first language?

By anon14475 — On Jun 17, 2008

I've felt a calling to the priesthood, one that at times has been very intense and have recently decided to visit a priest near my home of which I'd seek advice. My situation is complicated, so I'll avoid going into it, but I would like to make a comment on this site (which so happened to be one of the first sites I ran across when searching for "priest.")

By anon14451 — On Jun 17, 2008

I would love to become a (corrupt) priest to scrape easy money from gullible fools that think I'm a "man of God."

By anon14082 — On Jun 09, 2008

there are rules about a sexually homosexual male being barred or asked to leave. But chastity is the rule- does this also apply then to the sexually active heterosexual man? if not, why not?

By MFerns — On Jun 08, 2008

hi, i'm 21 years old, indian catholic and am currently in my fourth year of higher education in england, pursuing a masters degree in biology. all my education after school has been in biology and the life sciences. i'm considering becoming a priest. should i talk to my priest back in dubai (where i was baptized, communioned and confirmed)or back home in india about this vocation? can i enter a seminary here in the uk on a student visa i currently hold? will my educational background be a stumbling block to my entering the priesthood (seeing that i don't have a background in religious studies or theology or sociology)? thanks in advance.

By anon13046 — On May 18, 2008

which would be a better way to become a priest, to go to a seminary or college? I'm thinking seminary but I'm not sure. so if anyone could please tell me, thank you.

By WGwriter — On Apr 27, 2008

Malayrobert and anon11516,

On the issue of age limits, I did know a priest who became one quite late in life. He had been married but his wife had died in a plane accident some years before. I would see he was about 60 or so when he entered the priesthood. This leads to my answer about why women can't become priests.

Though there is strong scriptural evidence in the New Testament, especially with more recent translations of the New Testament that women are considered as able in the priesthood as men, the Catholic Church as a body still feels that women should not serve in the priesthood and that the calling is for men only. This has caused a lot of women who seek serving as ministers to change to a different religious sect where they can serve as ministers or reverends.

Personally, as an American raised Catholic, this restriction never made sense to me, any more than the idea that a priest shouldn't be married. Moreover, interest in the priesthood in the US has so declined, that many argue eventually married men and women will have to serve if they are to serve the number of people that are Catholics. If you go to many church services, you'll note many of the priests are not American; they are Irish, or more commonly today, Indian. We are essentially having to import priests from other countries because we don't have enough American priests to fill these jobs.

However, we have a conservative pope in Pope Benedict, and I find it very doubtful that we'll see any married priests or women priests any time soon. It's a shame, and one of the reasons why I can't gather much desire to practice Catholicism anymore.

By malayrobert — On Apr 26, 2008

Any age limit to become the Priest?

By anon11516 — On Apr 17, 2008

Why can't women become priests?

By anon11439 — On Apr 16, 2008

To Anon6001 >

They probably do rather a lot of Bible reading in their training. Also the reason entry is so strict is very simple, if 'anyone' could just suddenly become a Priest, you would surely have highly underqualified people posing as priests.

However that said, there's nothing stopping anyone from being a Pastor of their own 'free' church.

By WGwriter — On Mar 28, 2008

To Tes,

Discussing the path of priesthood is a good way to see if it is something you would like to pursue. Remember there are also many checks along the way.

If you are considering it, consider discussing it with a priest or bishop you know, and see what they have to say. It is not as though anyone would force you to become a priest if you didn't want to. Another idea for those men interested in priesthood that are married; consider training to become a deacon, or as a chaplain for a local hospital or a police department. Becoming a deacon means you are serving the church, and as a nondenominational chaplain, you can serve your community and minister to those most in need.

By Tes — On Mar 28, 2008

I'm a 38 year old man who has never been married though i have had a few very loving relationships with wonderful women in my life. I graduated from a catholic high school and also attended parochial grade school. I have attended some college in my early twenties but after my mother got sick with multiple sclerosis i had to go to work full time to help take care of her and support the household (my father passed when i was 11).I have always felt close to God and have always felt he might be calling me to the priesthood simply by the way my life has unfolded. Four years ago I lost my mother

to a aneurysm and ever since i have felt strongly that God is calling me to walk the road to becoming a priest, but i am not sure if a man of my age with little college background would be welcome to become a priest. Even though my dioscese's Bishop is an amazing man who has made it his point to ask those who feel God's calling to make themselves known, I'm still scared. Does anyone have any advice that might help me decide what to do next? Any advice at all would be very much appreciated and welcomed.

By anon8296 — On Feb 11, 2008

Jimmy - I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit. The church needs more men and women out there willing to step up and take on the word of God.

By anon7024 — On Jan 15, 2008

So overall, you need 8 years of schooling and then half a year of being a deacon? Before all that do they check your criminal background because the article sort of made it sound like they do it during your education or afterwards. I kind of want to know because I'm writing a story over this...

By anon6647 — On Jan 05, 2008

can a catholic priest bring his parents to live with him in the parsonage? If no, why not?

By anon6001 — On Dec 12, 2007

. . . .wait . . . . throughout this whole article the word "Bible" is not even mentioned. . . why is that? Isn't religion influenced by the Bible? Then why is reading the Bible not part of the requirements? jimmy 94 I think you should reconsider for what you are about to do. You are supposed to listen to god and obey him, why is it that others decide if you're "holy" enough to become a priest? Does not God love all his children?

By jimmy94 — On Jun 16, 2007

OK, so if I graduate from High School go to a community college and obtain an Associate Degree then transfer to the seminary how many years more till I become a priest. This is highly important since I feel the need the love the call to become a priest This is all I want in order to be happy thank you

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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