Too old to be a Priest?
Brothers & Sisters,
The question of whether or not I'm too old to become a priest has come up more than once, and I'd like to take the time to attempt to debunk some of those myths.
Myth: I thought priests were young and right out of high school?
You'd be partially correct. While you indeed can enter seminary when you've graduated high school people also enter at all different phases of their lives. In fact, the average age of a seminarian ordained in 2018 was 35 according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their Annual Class Report. There are also seminaries that specialize in older or "mature" vocations that take applicants of almost all ages.
Myth: God calls you once and if you don't answer he stops.
When I first heard this, it was at the beginning of my discernment process, and I immediately became concerned. If God only called once what was this voice I heard in me every day for 18 years? Was I going crazy? The answer was no. If we are to believe that God is always with us even when we push him away, then the simple answer was that he was still calling me.
Myth: You're running away from something.
Lucky for you and me the vocations director and spiritual director I meet with regularly all debunked this fairly quickly as did I before I even requested my first meeting. In fact, as an older vocation, it was one of the first things that went through my mind. Was I running away from something? I also find it difficult to believe that becoming a priest allows you to run away from something. You do quite a bit of soul-searching during the discernment process with your Vocations & Spiritual directors if something is weighing you down you'll find it.
Myth: You're giving up on your job.
I don't think that anyone in my shoes takes this lightly. It's been a long process, and it's not over yet. As this is quite the life change for me, and there are many things you need to make sure are in order beforehand. What if I go to seminary and halfway through it's not working out? I left my job behind, probably can't go back to it and now need to start my life all over again. For me as I began to work through this process that I didn't want to be an IT Manager for the next 40 years of my life and I felt a strong calling and desire to be there for people and put everything before me.
My brothers and sisters this is just the start of what I'm assuming will be many posts on clarifying assumptions that you might have regarding older vocations or vocations in general. I know I've had quite a few and if I can share them here to help make someone else's possible discernment process a bit easier then all the better!