Seminarian: Why I Want to Be a Priest Despite the Crisis

Seminarian: Why I Want to Be a Priest Despite the Crisis January 5, 2019

Serving Mass at Saint John XXIII Catholic Church, Fort Collins, USA
Serving Mass at Saint John XXIII Catholic Church, Fort Collins, USA (Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash)

As the clerical sex abuse crisis continues to unfold. Each of us in ordained ministry needs to confront it. Our answers might be slightly different but they all need to return to what really matters.

The local paper in Sandusky, Ohio carried the testimony of a local young man, Tyler Boyd, in the Priestly Discernment Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville:

One afternoon, after reading article after article about the extensive abuse, I asked myself why I was still studying to be a priest. […] What was my intention? Did I want the benefits of a priestly life? Did I want to escape the world that was seemingly falling apart around me? Did I have something to hide? Then in an illuminating moment, all of my fears and anxiety faded away.

I was reminded why I wanted to become a priest; I wanted to serve Jesus Christ and his Church. I wanted to be a medic on the battlefield of life, binding the wounds left by sin, carrying my brothers and sisters into the safety of the Father’s arms. This was my vocation, and no sin of any priest or bishop could stop me from pursuing that purpose that God had created me for. […]

The priesthood may be disfigured by sinful men who have hidden in its ranks, but the Catholic priesthood is still the love of the heart of Jesus, a self-emptying sacrificial love. Jesus tells us throughout the Gospels not to be afraid. Perhaps for a long time we didn’t know what that meant, but in this time of great struggle he asks us to trust in him. We may be tempted to fall into despair but we must look at ourselves and see what lies in our hearts. We cannot undo the serious crimes that have been perpetrated by corrupted clergy, but we can change the future of the Church by looking into our own hearts to see what we find there. Is there lust, envy and hatred that has clung in the deepest caverns of our hearts? Have we turned our hearts into vaults, locking God out of the places in our lives where we need him most? […]

We need priests, but most of all, we need holy priests. While today may be perceived as the worse time to become a priest, I see it as the most important time to study for priesthood in recent memory. I am honored to study and pray beside the men that I meet in formation today. […] As a storm buffets the Church, Jesus is asking you step out of the boat and reach out to him. The waves are crashing, but keep your eyes on Jesus and be not afraid.

You can read his whole testimony on their website. [Emphasis above is mine.] I think this is the type of attitude we need in the priesthood: self-giving in imitation of Jesus.

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