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Life of a Priest: FAQs
The Essentials > Life of a Priest > Frequently Asked Questions

What if I’m attracted to marriage and think I’d be a good father and husband?  Does that mean God is not calling me to become a priest?
R. Not necessarily.  The characteristics that make good husbands and fathers are the same characteristics that make good priests.  The real question is this: Are you willing to give our Lord your life and do whatever he needs you to do?

Q. Do priests get any time off?  How about vacation?
R. Priests are encouraged to take off a day during the week as a part of overall healthy living.  Often, this day off is accompanied by an overnight stay at the home of a friend, sibling or parent.

Each priest is allowed (and encouraged) to take 4 weeks vacation each year.   This time allows priests to recreate, pursue interests, rest and remain connected with family and friends.

Q. Aren’t priests lonely since they cannot marry?
R. That’s the common perception.  But professionals tell us loneliness knows no boundaries…there are the lonely married and the lonely single.  Avoiding loneliness has more to do with having people you can love and people who love you.  Priests have dozens of people who open their hearts to them and, in turn, priests welcome their parishioners into their lives.  So, priests, like other people, are lonely only if they choose to be lonely.

Q. Do priests have hobbies?
R. Absolutely!  Priests are normal people.  Like other people, priests have interests and hobbies that they enjoy pursuing. 

Q. What if I’m not a saint?  I wonder if I’m good enough to be a priest?
R. No one is worthy to be a priest.  But for those called to priesthood, Jesus takes all their imperfections and molds them into the kind of priest he wants them to be. Remember, the apostles weren’t perfect when Jesus called them to follow him. 

Q. What if I’m not a virgin?  Does that disqualify me from being a priest?
R. No.  What is important, however, is what kind of a life are you leading now? It’s important that men entering the seminary be able to live a chaste life (not engaging in sexual activity).  That’s why we require men to have lived chastely for 2-3 years before becoming a seminarian.

Q. Can priests have women friends?
R. Of course.  Having good women friends is an important part of healthy living for anyone, including priests.   

Q. Can priests have possessions and savings in a bank?
R. Yes.  Diocesan priests are asked to live a simple life but do not take a vow of poverty.  Since diocesan priests are responsible for their own expenses (car, clothes, gifts at Christmas, recreation, etc.), they are paid a salary and have possessions.

Q. How much money does a priest get paid in a year?
R. Priests in the Albany diocese earn approximately $25,000 per year plus room & board, health insurance and retirement.  If money is your motivating factor in life, don’t become a priest.  On the other hand, priests live comfortably and have all their needs met.

Q. Does a priest’s relationship with his family change once he becomes a priest?
R. Not really.  A priest’s biological family is an important part of his overall support system.  Many priests have said that they have the opportunity to spend more time with their parents than their married siblings.

Q. It seems that priests sacrifice a lot.  Is that true?
R. Priesthood does require sacrifice, but that’s part of the reason priesthood is so special.  But remember that sacrifice is a part of marriage as well.  Anything worthwhile in life requires sacrifice.  When Jesus said, “If you wish to be my disciple, pick up your cross and follow me,” he was referring to all vocations.

Q. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to become a priest.  Do you have to be real intelligent?
R. If you have average intelligence or above, and can complete college level work, you have enough intelligence to become a priest.  Becoming a priest has a lot more to do with things like faithfulness, leadership, generosity of heart and love of service than it does “smarts.”

Q. Can priests drink beer?
R. Priests can drink alcoholic beverages but must be responsible in doing so…just like any other adult.

Q. Is debt an issue in becoming a seminarian?
R. Men interested in becoming a seminarian should have credit card debt paid off before entering the seminary (because a seminarian would not be collecting a salary while in the seminary).  Educational debt is not an issue because payment on educational loans is delayed until after a man is ordained a priest. The diocese does offer assistance to men with large educational loans upon ordination.

Q. If I become a seminarian and later decide it’s not for me, am I committed in anyway?
R. No. The time in the seminary is a time for discerning (finding out what God wants you to do with your life).  While in the seminary, some men discern that priesthood is not for them.  They are free to leave.  Most men who leave find the seminary experience to have been enriching.

Q. What if I’m thinking about the priesthood but am not ready to apply as a seminarian?
R. If in High School – Pray daily (ask daily what God needs you to do with your life), attend Mass weekly, learn more about priesthood as an option in life by participating in programs offered by the vocation office, get involved in your parish as a altar server/lector/eucharistic minister/youth group member/choir member/religious education teacher/parish council member.  Get involved in service work, talk to a priest about your questions, and meet other high school men thinking about the same thing through activities offered by the vocation office.

If in College – In addition to those things mentioned above for high school students, get involved in campus ministry and the college Newman Center.  Attend a discernment group meeting to meet other faithful men with the same questions and concerns as you.  Gather as much information about the priesthood as possible.

If Post-College or Second-Career Men – In addition to many of the ideas mentioned above, talk to a vocation director about your experiences, do some spiritual reading and get a spiritual director.  Think about going on a retreat.

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