Monday 6 December 2021

The Calling


“Father … I want to become a priest!”

Normally such words would gladden the heart of any priest. To learn that someone has received the calling from God and is only too willing to respond. But this was not the reaction of Father Ignatius at Norman’s sudden announcement.

“Father … did you hear me?” continued Norman sitting uncomfortably in the armchair in the priest’s office. Father Ignatius sat back behind his desk and said calmly:

“When did you decide that this is what you wish to do?”

“It took a long time … I didn’t decide as such … I felt, and still feel and believe, that God is calling me to the priesthood …” stammered Norman.

“At first I was confused … this can’t be, I thought. I tried to get the thought out of my mind … but it kept coming back … stronger than ever … I know deep in my heart that this is what I have to do … God is asking me to be a priest …”

“Have you discussed it with Helen?” enquired the priest.

“No … no … I can’t” replied Norman looking down to the ground, “not yet anyway … I thought I’d talk to you first … I … I … I wanted your opinion, and advice.”

“Norman … you realize it is impossible for you to become a priest!” Father Ignatius said as gently as he could.

“Just because I’m married … why should that stop me becoming a priest?” interrupted the young man, “it happens in other denominations …”

“I know it does,” Father Ignatius continued, “and perhaps at some date in the future it may well happen in our Church too. I don’t know about that … But right now, a married man with children, as in your case, cannot become a priest …”

“But … I feel God is calling me …” interrupted Norman.

“That may well be true … Again, I don’t know about that. Would God invite you to be a priest as a married man …”

“I’ve often felt drawn to the priesthood …” Norman interrupted once more.

“Do you remember Father, all those years ago; when Helen and I came to tell you we wished to marry? You jokingly asked me whether I wish to become a priest instead! And you asked her whether she’d like to be a nun rather than be shackled with me …”

The priest smiled.

“And do you remember even earlier than that … well before I even met Helen … you suggested to me once that I might consider priesthood …”

“Yes … I always thought you’d be well suited to the vocation. You would have made a good priest.” Father Ignatius agreed.

“But at the time I was not ready … somehow I believed that’s not what God wanted. Perhaps I was mistaken … or just did not listen to God’s prompting. Then I met Helen and we fell in love. But now I’m sure that’s what God is asking me to do. I’ve been a Deacon for four years … yet it’s not enough … I want to be a priest.”

“Why is it not enough?” asked the priest gently.

“I don’t know … I just feel and believe that’s what God wants of me … At first I thought it was my mind making things up. I dismissed the idea believing it to be impossible … but it keeps coming back …

“Why can’t I be a priest and married … St Peter was married was he not? He was good enough to be chosen by Jesus … why not me?”

Father Ignatius ignored the question.

“How do you envisage being a priest and married at the same time, with your family responsibilities?” he asked Norman.

“I don’t know …” mumbled the distraught young man.

“I’ve thought it over again and again. You know in the Bible Jesus saying in Matthew Chapter 16 Verse 24; I looked it up … ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me’.

“I suspect Peter and the other disciples must have left their families behind to follow Jesus wherever He went …”

“And is that what you’re planning to do? Leave Helen and the children to fend for themselves?” Father Ignatius asked in his quiet and calm tone of voice.

“No … of course not. I couldn’t do that.” retorted Norman, “I love my wife and children. I couldn’t possibly leave them … That’s why I came to you. I’m all confused. I couldn’t leave my job and responsibilities … the house is not fully paid for … I … I … I don’t know what to think anymore …

“These thoughts have been torturing me for some time now. I know and understand my responsibilities as a husband and a father … but I firmly believe that I am called to the vocation …”

“I believe you are …” replied the priest surprisingly.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do.” he continued, “I’ll discuss what you’ve told me with Monsignor Thomas at Bishop’s House. I’ll seek his advice. In the meantime I suggest you pray some more about this, and discuss it with Helen … I’ll pray for you too, and leave it in God’s hands to show us how to proceed.”

All this happened a long time ago. The Church understood and sympathized with Norman but could not accept him as a priest. He eventually left and became a priest in another denomination, supported by his wife and children. Father Ignatius still keeps in touch.


  1. Hi Victor,
    it is a good thing that followers of Jesus do not go by what people say, but go by what the scriptures say. As we are told that the scriptures are discerned spiritually, then renouncing himself does not mean not getting married, it means living our lives through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not through the guidance of the carnal mind. God bless.

  2. Dearest Victor,
    Guess he's been wrestling with that calling for a long, long time. Good that he found a solution for serving in another denomination.

    1. It is also a decision the Catholic Church has yet to make; especially since now (in the UK) they accept married priests from the Anglican Church to join our Church.

      God bless, Mariette.

  3. A story closer to the truth than many KNOW. I THOUGHT I was 'Called' once; even launched out. Pastored two churches, organized and built one (still alive today). I still think I was 'Called' but did not know the right direction. I found it in Children's ministry. Then I was happy, but it was late in life.
    I could have made a much worse mistake in determining a 'CALLING." Good post my friend, I do like your Father Ignatius. ;-)

    1. You would have made a good Pastor, Jack. But you did find a vocation in other fields. I am sure God is very happy with your contribution in making this world a better place.

      I'll try to post here more Fr Ignatius stories. Why not download a FREE book from my website:

      God bless you and Sherry.

  4. Norman's decision sounds like a wise compromise. Do we not all worship the same God? I'm reminded of what Fr. Maple wrote in this morning's devotional: Not being a 'dummy Christian' (but) instead, be witnesses for the Lord when the opportunity is right.

    1. You're right, Mevely. We all worship the same God and should do our best to witness for Him.

      Did you know you can read Fr Maple's sermons every day here:

      Click on Homily for today on the right margin.

      God bless you.

    2. No, I didn't know. Thank you for sharing this info!

  5. A good ending for Norman but not for the Catholic Church.

    1. Yes, I agree. The Catholic Church is not consistent on this matter.

      God bless, Bill.

  6. Sounds like it all worked out well - just how God intended. :)

  7. We all have a calling as children of God. Sometimes it's recognized, sometimes not. But He knows what it is because He's gifted us to serve Him.

    Thank you for this piece, Victor.

    1. Yes, whatever our circumstances and talents, we all have a calling from God.

      God bless, Linda.

  8. It's quite a quandry. Most other denominations have a married clergy, and somehow they balance work and family and everything else. It still can't be easy, though.

    1. As you say, it is a quandry which needs to be resolved.

      God bless you, Mimi.

  9. It's a shame he had to leave his church and become a priest for another denomination. It's one more thing I don't understand about the Catholic religion, the only one (as far as I know) that doesn't have married priests.

    1. I can see the advantages in not being married in that they can devote all of their time to the Church and their parishioners; which would not be easy for a married person with a family.

      God bless, River.



God bless you.