Blessed Sacrament Catholic School
Diocese of Belleville
Office of Vocations
VO2620 Lebanon Avenue
Belleville, IL 62221
Diocesan Vocation Directors
Rev. Msgr. William P. McGhee, 618-233-2391, William-mcGhee@sbcglobal.net
Rev. Trevor Murry, 618-932-2828, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. David M. Wilke, 618-274-3486, email@example.com
Mrs. Patti Warner, Secretary, 618-235-9601, Ext. 148, PWarner@diobelle.org
ARE YOU CALLED TO THE PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST?
Dear Friend in Christ,
Welcome to the Belleville Diocese Priesthood site!
Have you ever thought of becoming a Catholic priest? Would you like to
serve the Catholic Church in southern Illinois as a priest in the
Diocese of Belleville? Would you like to know what you need to do to
learn more about the possibility of becoming a priest? You will find the
answers to these and other questions on this page. May God bless you as
you think about the best way to live your life as a follower of Christ.
Bishop +Edward K. Braxton
When is the right time to think about becoming a priest?
The idea of becoming a priest can enter your heart at any age: in
elementary school, high school, college, or many years after college.
You do not need to live in southern Illinois to become a priest in the
Belleville Diocese. You simply need the desire to serve God in a
community that has a great need for priests. That desire might give you
the missionary spirit needed to tend a portion of the Lord’s flock that
needs good shepherds.
What should you do?
The first thing you should do is pray. If you have ever thought about
being a priest, why not take some time to really think about what your
life might be like serving Christ and the members of His Body, the
Church, as a priest?
Spend a few moments each day praying and asking God to guide you in your
discernment about a possible vocation to the priesthood. One of the
best places to pray about becoming a priest is at Mass. There you are
actually in the presence of a priest celebrating the Eucharist, which is
at the heart of the Priesthood. You can also pray for guidance in a
quiet chapel in the presence of Christ in the tabernacle, or on a long
walk, or in your room at night before you go to bed. Prayerful openness
to the Holy Spirit will help you to understand better the reasons why
you think you might want to be a priest.
What should you do next?
The next thing you should do is talk to a priest. This could be the
priest serving in your parish or some other good and faithful priest you
know well. Share with him the reasons why you have been thinking about
becoming a priest. Ask him questions. He will happily advise you and
tell you some of the things you should do to discern your vocation. He
might even take you to visit a seminary.
If he thinks there is a good chance that you might be called to serve as
a priest, he will put you in touch with the Vocation Office of the
Diocese of Belleville, or with a Vocation Directory. The Vocation
Director will be able to give you more information concerning the
process of applying to the Diocese and studying for the priesthood in a
Catholic seminary. If you do not know a priest to talk to, you can
contact the Vocations Office or a Vocation Director personally at the
numbers listed above.
Get a spiritual director. In the meantime, it would be good to ask a
priest to serve as your spiritual director. He will help you grow in the
life of prayer, which is essential in developing a deep, personal
relationship with Jesus Christ, the High Priest. A retreat or a day of
recollection might also help you in your discernment. Begin to read the
story of Jesus in the New Testament, especially the Gospels, the Acts of
the Apostles, and the letters of St. Paul. Keep in mind the call to
serve Christ as a priest is not always loud and clear. It is not
necessarily like Moses and the “burning bush” experience in which God
called him to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Most of the
time it is a gradual realization that a life of prayer, service, and
helping Catholic people to learn, love, and live their faith is the life
that appeals to you. Of course, if you pursue this vocation, you will
find out that the life of a priest is full of interesting and rewarding
Who should you tell?
Be sure to let your parents know that you are thinking about becoming a
priest. Ask your parents, family members, and close friends to pray for
you. Do not be discouraged if some people are not enthusiastic about
your thoughts of becoming a priest.
How do you apply?
At a certain point, you should go through the actual application process
for the seminary through the Diocese of Belleville. The Vocation
Directors and the Vocation office will help you with this. This process
requires gathering some basic information about your life, getting
copies of documents such as your Baptismal certificate, and responding
to questions about why you think you wish to be a priest.
Remember that entering the seminary is not the same as a commitment to
the priesthood. Many men enter the seminary and eventually conclude that
they are not called to the priesthood. So, even if you are not
completely sure about your vocation (very few people actually are), you
are still free to apply to the seminary.
How long does it take to become a priest?
It usually takes about eight years after high school, four years of
college and four years studying theology. Today, many men enter the
seminary at the college level. A priest needs to have a good, solid
Catholic education, with a special emphasis on philosophy and theology.
However, you are not required to be a great scholar in order to be a
good priest. After four years at a college seminary, there are four more
years of study at a theological seminary. Because of the time spent in
study, prayer, spiritual direction, and formation, most men who enter
the seminary after high school are ordained a priest around the age of
twenty-six. During this time it is very important that you give very
serious consideration to what it means to live a life of obedience to
the Church, a life of total service, freely forgoing the joy and
companionship of a wife and children of your own.
Of course, some men go to a regular college and enter the seminary after
they graduate. Others come to the seminary later in life after they
have worked as a teacher, an engineer, a social worker, or some other
career. During the years in the seminary you should continue to pray and
discern God's call in your life, faithfully following the guidance of
the seminary rector and your vocation director. Ultimately, the Bishop
of the Diocese will call you to the priesthood. It is not possible to
become a Catholic priest unless you are called by the Bishop. If you
ever see the Bishop (He visits parishes often.), introduce yourself to
What if you are not a Catholic?
Do not be surprised if you are not a member of the Catholic Church and
yet you think you could possibly be called to the priesthood. You are
not the first person to realize that you want to be a priest even though
you must become a member of the Catholic Church first! The Vocation
Directors would be happy to assist you in learning how to join the
Is this a bad time to enter the seminary?
No! This is a very good time to enter the seminary. Many people ore
searching. They are for meaning in their lives, searching for God,
searching for Christ, and searching for the Church. There has never been
a time when there was a greater need for priests. In recent years, the
education and formation program at American seminaries has been
The sad stories of priests sexually abusing minors may make you or
your family hesitant about considering the priesthood. This hesitancy is
very understandable. Some men who are already in the seminary share
this hesitancy. They are receiving the assistance they need to address
their concerns. It is a terrible thing if even one priest abuses a
minor. It is a source of shame and embarrassment for the Church. In
spite of the wide media coverage, these grave misdeeds have been the
actions of only a small number of the hundreds of thousands of priests
serving faithfully all over the world. Their sinful actions do not
represent the Church as a whole. They certainly do not represent the
majority of priests. Most of these offenses took place in the past.
Today Bishops, seminaries, Vocations Directors and others are working
very diligently to select only men of mental, emotional, spiritual, and
sexual maturity, who are fully committed to celibacy, to serve the
Church as priests. If you become a priest, we want you to be proud and
happy that you have responded to this great call to follow Christ’s
apostles as “fishers of men.”
Personal prayer is very important as you go forward. Try to participate
in daily Mass. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. Begin
the practice of spiritual reading (e.g., the lives of the saints,
especially priest saints). This will surely help you to decide if you
should commit your life to Christ and His Church as a priest. Know that
if you embrace the Diocese of Belleville as a future priest, the whole
Church of southern Illinois will be praying for you as well.
Why not join us in praying our Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood each day. The prayer is:
PRAYER for VOCATIONS to the PRIESTHOOD
Diocese of Belleville
Leader: God is good.
Response: All the time!
Leader: All the time.
Response: God is good
Let us Pray:
Lord, Our God
we know that You are Goodness itself.
Throughout history you have called forth ministers of Word and Sacrament to lead, guide, and serve your people as priests.
We join with our Bishop in praying for an increase in vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese
We ask you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to stir up a desire in the
hearts of young men in our parishes to serve your Church in the
priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Help them to hear and respond generously to you