This article was originally published under the title, "I’m Embarrassed to Admit I’m Studying to Be a Catholic Priest" on The Doe.
It is no secret these days that public trust in priests is not what it once was. I often wonder what sort of ideas the priesthood draws up in someone's mind. Do they recall a beloved pastor singing beautiful alleluias, always with a ready ear? Do they remember a time when a priest spoke words of tenderness and grace in a moment of suffering? Or instead are they repulsed by thoughts of abuse and perversion? Do they associate priests with alcoholism and other vices? In their mind, is the priest an instant saint or a lecherous bastard?
I am a Catholic seminarian. This identity has grown on me after six years studying in a seminary, but sometimes, it still feels awkward to share with strangers. Sometimes, while getting a haircut or ordering dinner, I am asked, “Where do you go to school?”
Often, I’ll pause for a moment before I mention the seminary.
“What do you study?”
“What do you plan to do with that?”
"Well, in a few years, I plan to be a Catholic priest."
The most common question people ask is what made me want to be a priest. Grade schoolers and adults alike are curious to know. Fortunately, it’s a question I love to answer.
The basis of my conviction for the priesthood is ultimately my relationship with God. That relationship is not strictly limited to church but permeates all aspects of my life. I grew