I believe that the current Catholic priesthood is in deep crisis because in recent decades seminarians have not been introduced to, and bonded with, a deep spirituality.
Primarily, the priesthood is neither a profession or a job.
It is a vocation.
I define vocation as “a divine call to God’s service”.
Of course the call to priesthood or religious life is by no means the only Divine call.
We Christians believe that marriage is a vocation.
I have met doctors, nurses, vets, tradesmen, public servants who had a great sense of vocation. They dod what they did out of a sense of duty and calling and did it for the joy of what they did and not just for wages or salaries.
I started saying I wanted to be a priest when I was three or four and have never wanted to be anything else.
As a priest, I believe I am called to have a relationship with God, a prayer life. And the other side of that coin is the call to practical service if my brothers and sisters, 24/7.
A HOLY MAN?
When I was growing up there were priests and then there were priests we thought of as special – holy.
I knew many priests and I also knew a few very holy and spiritual priests.
I didnt just want to be a priest. I wabted to be a holy priest.
But when I began to experience the priesthood at 24, I was shocked.
I began to see that many priests became disillusioned and cynical and very quickly.
The real priesthood was not at all like we were told it was in seminary.
I quickly met bully priests, alcoholic priests, gambling priests, womanising priests, actively gay priests, thieving priests, insane priests etc.
I told myself: “Don’t let yourself become like them. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop believing. Don’t become cynical”.
This year I will be 45 years ordained.
I have kept my faith in God.
I still try and pray.
I am not disillusioned and cynical.
But I have seen through the Roman Catholic institution and organisation that I once believed in and gave my heart to.
I just thank God that I do not have to start all over again – for I do not know even where I would begin.
I retain much of my idealism.
And I agree with the words from Macbeth I first learned 50 years ago:
“We are so far steeped in, that if we were to wade no more; returning would be as tedious as go o’er”