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vocation
How do you know you have a vocation?

Through Baptism every Christian has a vocation, that is, a call from God to serve the Church.  The Holy Spirit invites all of us to share our gifts, talents and lives in some unique way. It may be as a single person giving witness to Christ by living a life directed by Gospel values. It may be as a married person dedicating one’s life and love to another person and sharing faith within a family. Or it may be as a vowed priest, sister or brother. 

A call to diocesan priesthood or to the religious life may occur over a long or a short period of time. It may be a sense that Christ is calling you to serve the people of God. Listen to the voice within:  Come and follow me. 

Do you have a call to the priesthood? 
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Catholic priesthood? 
Grade School
Vocation Interest Survey
High School
     
 
F A Q
 

You have come to the right place. These pages are intended to help you find out about your call from God. Everyone has a call and a purpose. Is yours to join the priesthood? This is the place to find out!

God works in many ways to call people to His service. Sometimes the call comes when one is still in grade school or high school. Sometimes it comes during college. Sometimes the call comes to those who already have a career. Whatever your age, this site will have something for you. You will be able to find the information you seek about vocations to the Catholic priesthood.

For more information about Vocations, you can contact: 
Rev. John D. Byrnes 
Prince Gallitzin Chapel House 
P.O. Box 99 
Loretto,  PA  15940-0099 

Phone: (814) 472-5441 
Email: 
jbyrnes@dioceseaj.org

 

Frequently Asked Questions. Got questions? We've got answers. Click here for frequently asked questions. 

Grade School 

Too young to hear God's call to be a priest or religious? No way!! Over one-half of the priests heard the call to priesthood when in grade school. The age of 11 seems to be a favorite time for Jesus to first plant the  idea of priesthood or religious life in a young person's heart. Sometimes others will bring the idea up to you.

If you have thought about priesthood or religious life, take it seriously. You are not too young to begin thinking about your future. Read on.

Everyone is called by name to have a mission in life. Everyone is called to be a disciple of Jesus, to be a good person, to be holy. In addition, each person is called to a more specific task in life, some to marriage and family, some to priesthood and religious life, and some to the single life.
 
 

Vocation Prayer 

Lord, let me know clearly the work which you are calling me to do in life. Grant me the grace and generosity I need to answer your call with courage and love and lasting dedication to your will.

Amen 

What's happening in Grade School? 

  • Prince Gallitzin Vocation Club:

  • Every grade school student in the diocese is encouraged to actively participate in the Prince Gallitzin Vocation Club. Belonging is simple: all one needs to do is pray. Father Gallitzin is our own model of what it means to be a great priest. Take a moment to read his story: 
Father Demetrius Gallitzin, the pioneer of our Catholic Faith in Central Pennsylvania, was born a Russian prince in 1770. He left his claim to royalty and came to America in 1792 to become a priest. He was ordained in Baltimore in 1795 by Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop of the United States. It was a sick call which brought him to the mountains of central Pennsylvania, to McGuire's Settlement (whose name he later changed to Loretto.) It was here, on Christmas eve in 1799, that Mass was celebrated for the first time in the newly erected church of St. Michael. He spent the remainder of his priestly life ministering to God's people in what is now the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. He died in 1840, and his statue and tomb are located in Loretto. We honor Father Demetrius and admire his missionary spirit. May God bless our diocese with more young men who have the desire to serve God as generously and courageously as our own Prince Gallitzin. 
  • Come and See Day:

  • Every spring there is a special vocation day for students grades 6 to 8 at the Prince Gallitzin Chapel House. Priests and seminarians are on hand to enjoy a fun day together that includes sports, prayer, great food and interesting conversation on what it takes to be a priest! 
  • Camp Zacchaeus, Our Summer Youth Camp:

  • is sponsored by the Diocesan Youth Office each August and offers a great week of swimming, fishing, hiking, and a zillion fun games! We play and we pray. There is Mass each day, we have daily Bible Study, cabin rosary, and each day ends with a great bonfire. Father Byrnes is camp chaplain, and there is a committed team of college students and adults who are on hand to make certain that the excitement never stops! For more information, ….. 
  • A Day at the Seminary:

  • Beginning in the spring of 2001, we are planning a day trip to St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. A bus will take young men from throughout the diocese to tour the basilica, monastery and seminary. We will celebrate Mass with the monks and seminarians, and make ample use of the colleges athletic facilities. 
Vocation Interest Survey. Where do you come in? Discover if Jesus is asking you to be his priest. Below is the "Vocations Anonymous" test. Try it! Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions... 
  • Does the idea of becoming a priest keep coming back time and time again, even though you thought you had moved on in your life and forgotten about it? 
  • Do you feel called to give more, to be more? 
  • Do you have a strong friendship with God? 
  • Do you really enjoy helping others in lots of different ways? 
  • Do you long for "MORE"? 
  • Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you are on the brink of major life decisions? 
  • Are you afraid to tell family and friends that you are thinking about priesthood? 
  • Does the idea of becoming a priest excite you and at the same time frighten you because you feel "unworthy"? 
If you answered "yes" to two or more of these questions, you may have a vocation to priesthood. 

Count your Talents for Priesthood. Take inventory of your talents by taking the "Story of My Life" priestly talent search. Just contact this office and we will have one out in the mail! 

High School 

The call to priesthood or religious life is not some mysterious thunderbolt or a heavenly vision. Most often the call comes to those in the last two years of high school. 

You will find a yearning in your heart to be significant beyond corporate success. You will want to make a lasting impact on future generations. Previous dreams grow stale. You will notice a desire to be closer to God and to serve him with your whole heart. 

You will also find that others will see priestly talents in you and ask you if you have considered priesthood. Listen carefully to such suggestions. God sends personal prophets to point out our call. 

Discernment - A Spiritual Compass 

Discernment means "to take a hard look" at your options. How are you going to seek your destiny? What should you notice? Take note if you feel restless with the options that don't measure up to the passion in your heart. Take note of the feeling that you have been given dreams bigger that any corporation can imagine. Take note of the suspicion that there is something that you are being called to do for God. It was Jesus who said, "You have not chosen me. I have chosen you." Take note if other people see priestly qualities in you, and invite you to be their priest. 

Many decisions in life are not crystal clear. It is simply unrealistic to wait for an unquestionable "call", thunder and lightning. Rather, a discernment is often a matter of becoming aware of something that is already there, a yearning, a desire for more. Selecting a path is risky. Refusing to choose a direction is certain self-destruction. 

Prayer for Vocations
 
Loving God, I honor the heart of your son. 

Like Jesus, give me an open heart to know your will. Give me a generous heart to respond to that will. Give me a courageous heart to be faithful to that promise of all that I am called to be. 

Like Jesus, use my heart to touch your people. Use my heart to serve your people. Use my heart to continue to love your people so that I may be faithful to the promise of all that I am called to be. 

Loving God, through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me to know if I am called to be a priest.

Amen

Seminary Live In Weekend - Twice a year, in November and March, there is weekend for high school juniors and seniors at the Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary college in Columbus, Ohio. Students travel as a group and spend three days enjoying the fellowship of young men just like themselves who are preparing for the priesthood. 

A Day at the Archabbey - Beginning in the spring of 2001, we are planning a day trip to St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. A bus will take young men from throughout the diocese to tour the basilica, monastery and seminary. We will celebrate Mass and dine with the monks and seminarians. We will also make ample use of the colleges athletic facilities. 

The Fraternity of Father Gallitzin - You are not alone as you wonder whether God is calling you to the priesthood. You would be surprised at just how many teenagers there are, just like you, who are wondering about the priesthood. The Fraternity of Father Gallitzin is a community of young men discerning God's call to the priesthood. 

Our Seminaries. Find out about the seminaries our men attend. Link up. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What will you find in the fraternity? 

A welcoming community of your peers; 

a gathering for prayer and fellowship; 

Great conversations on God and the Church; 

opportunities to meet our bishop, priests and seminarians;

direction and help in following God's call; 

activities and friendship 

What are some of the activities planned? 

Regularly scheduled meetings 

Special over night retreats 

Live-In Weekends at seminaries 

Visits to parishes 

Pastoral service to the community 

Outdoor sports and activities 

What does it take to be a member? 

A desire to love and serve God 

An interest in serving the Church 

A longing to know more about your Faith 

A need to understand God's call in your life 

How do I join a member of this Fraternity 

Begin to offer this Fraternity prayer each day: 

Loving God, like Father Gallitzin, I want to follow your Son, Jesus. I want to bring His message to the world as so many before me have done. My heart leads me to you, but I'm not always sure how to respond. Let me know what it is you are calling me to do and what life you are asking me to live. Give me the strength to share with others the blessings that have enriched my life. Thank you, God, for hearing my prayer.
Amen.

Then contact:
Rev. John D. Byrnes
Diocesan Director of Vocations
Prince Gallitzin Chapel House
P.O. Box 99
Loretto, PA 15940
Phone:  (814) 472-5441
E-mail: jbyrnes@dioceseaj.org

What do you do all day? 

What a priest, brother or sister does with his or her day is so varied and complex that only a sampling can be given here. 

In the area of work or ministry, many of us have one main occupation, such as teaching, parish ministry, social work, or hospital work, all of which have somewhat regular hours and predictable demands. 

The unpredictables are also interesting and challenging. They center around meeting the needs of people: the sick, old, angry, hurt, hungry, imprisoned, excited, happy. 

How important is prayer in your life?

Because we have chosen a way of life which says by its very nature that God is most important, prayer has a central role in our lives. Prayer is communication with the Lord whom we love and is as necessary for us as communication is for any two persons who expect their relationship to continue. 

Is prayer always easy for you?

Definitely not! There are lots of times when we don't feel like doing other things that are basically important to us; for example, the athlete doesn't always feel like practicing, a student doesn't always feel like studying. However, in all the cases mentioned, because the activity in which we participate is important, we act on motives deeper than feelings, and do what we know needs to be done. 

Do you get time off, and what do you do in that time? 

We have approximately the same amount of leisure time as most adults. Some of the more common choices are sports, movies, TV, reading, sharing with friends and enjoying the outdoors. 

How long does it take to become a diocesan priest?

It takes four years after college or eight years after high school, the same as for many professions. 

How old do you have to be before you enter the seminary?
There is no certain age to start preparing for the priesthood. Some people go to high school seminaries, others enter the seminary after high school, after college, or after they have been working for years. 

What vows do diocesan priests make? 

Diocesan priests make no vows. For ordination, they freely make promises of celibacy and obedience to their bishop.