The signs of a vocation to the priesthood

Anne Marie Amacher
Seminarians, from left, Scott Foley, Isaac Doucette, Dane Dickinson and James Flattery are discerning a vocation to the priesthood for the Diocese of Davenport.

By Fr. Joseph Sia

I would like to begin a series of short articles based on chapters from the book, “To Save a Thousand Souls” by Father Brett Brannen. I heard Fr. Brannen speak at a national conference for vocation directors last September, and he was truly amazing and inspiring. His many years of experience as a priest and spiritual director are evident in the way he talks and writes. He is insightful and realistic in his suggestions for men discerning a call to the priesthood.

For each article, I will take a question and answer it based on Fr. Brannan’s words and add my own comments as well. My hope is that this can guide not only men who are thinking of priesthood, but also family members, friends, members of parish vocations committees, St. Serra Club, Knights of Columbus, etc., to reach out to those men who they might consider to be good candidates for seminary.

Today I would like to explore the question, “What are the signs of a vocation to the priesthood?”


First of all, men do not call themselves to the priesthood; God does. This is an important reality to consider because it impacts how a man “knows” he wants to become a priest. If a man is convicted that he is following the will of God, then he will surrender to the grace that God provides and will have a sense of inner peace with his decision. As he continues his discernment, he will allow things to fall into place the way God intends. This includes recognizing that sometimes God allows road blocks and detours along the way. Despite these distractions, a man discerning priesthood will be able to focus on asking what God desires for him.

A good candidate for diocesan priesthood should know and love Jesus Christ and have a thirst to bring Jesus and his teachings to the world. This means that a man discerning priesthood should already have had an encounter with Jesus Christ, and consciously lives out that personal relationship at every moment in his life. He is thus aware of the immense love of Christ for him. He desires what Christ wants for the world and is therefore an evangelizer. He understands the worth of a life lived with Christ and is dying to share that gift with others. In his charity he wants others to experience the joy which only the truth can bring.

To put it simply: A man can’t be a priest if he doesn’t love Jesus. Therefore, one of the signs of a vocation to the priesthood is love for Jesus and his bride, the church.

I will continue answering this question in next month’s article. Stay tuned!

(Father Joseph Sia is director of vocations for the Diocese of Davenport.)

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