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Tuesday, Nov. 8th 2016

Discerning the Priesthood after College

The decision to discern a priestly vocation after graduating from college can be a difficult one

by Casey Zimmerman, Pre-Theology I of the Diocese of Salina in Kansas

“Why would you leave a stable, successful, enjoyable career for seminary? Wouldn’t that waste your college degree and experience?” These were the first, and most common, questions I was confronted with by friends after announcing I would be leaving the company I had worked for over a year and begin discerning a call to the priesthood at Conception Seminary College. From a secular viewpoint, their line of questioning seems valid; I had paid to receive a college education and was at that time fruitfully using that education. Why should I make an about-face and leave just as my fledgling career is taking off? In a way, it does seem like a waste. And besides, what good is a chemistry degree in the priestly vocation?

Thankfully, however, this is not how God sees our vocation. Our vocation spans our entire life, and no experience, small or large, positive or negative, is outside the realm of use by God so that His will can be fulfilled. My years in college and the real world taught me so much and gave me a perspective I was lacking. I faced challenges and temptations which allow me to relate to young high school and college students in a more sincere way. I may someday be able to use my experiences in the workplace, interacting with coworkers, facing project deadlines, and attending meetings, to better relate to the struggles faced by parishioners in their daily lives. I had to take control of my finances, balance a budget, pay bills, make sacrifices, and determine how I could best support the Church. The relationships I formed along the way were joyful and in many ways directed me toward seminary. I became more acutely aware of my need for Christ, and the need of Christ in the lives of others because of these experiences.

The decision to leave work was not easy. There were numerous reasons, both selfish and unselfish, not to leave. But in the end, our relationship with God, our eternal salvation, and our work in helping others reach salvation are all that matters. As a man serious about my faith, I would have questioned myself and regretted more if I had NOT gone to seminary. Although the future may be unclear as to how God plans to tie my experiences together in my vocation, I trust that it is all the richer for them.

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