As a young boy when I first grasped that there was going to be a shortage of priests I remember experiencing a pang of guilt accompanied by an interior question – “Am I the one who has to make the sacrifice to be a priest?!” Even though my faith was important to me and the dearth of vocations disturbed me, I did not want to be a priest. I desired to be married and to have a family. With some rationalization I found myself a convenient excuse: “I am a math and science guy. I want to be an engineer. Those men who like English and writing – those are the ones whose duty it is to be priests!”
As the years went by I embarked on engineering studies. It was in the midst of a thriving campus ministry that I learned that we don’t just have a shortage of men signing up to be priests, we have a shortage of faithful men period. This revolutionized my world-view. It allowed me to instead put the focus on growing in my relationship with Christ rather than on a yes or no to the priesthood. Gradually something unexpected happened. A deep desire overtook the guilt feeling I had about the priesthood. Yes, the sacrifice was there, but this time, I wanted to make that sacrifice for Christ and His Church – this time, I wanted to be a priest.
"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain." (John 15:16). The call of the Lord Jesus to serve him in the Holy Priesthood arises directly from the love of his Sacred Heart. He is still calling many more men today to leave their worldly desires and ambitions behind and set out on the great adventure of the Catholic Priesthood, to dedicate their lives to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
A call to the priesthood usually begins with some attraction to priestly life and ministry, a call to give oneself to God in a deeper, more radical way. From there through prayer and participation in the Church's sacramental life, one usually is led to greater trust in beginning to take the first steps of answering God's call. If you think God may be calling you, do not be afraid! Spend time in prayer, particularly in Eucharistic Adoration and participation in the Sacraments, in order to come to know Christ better. Also, it would be helpful to reach out and speak to a priest who you may know and trust, just to see what his thoughts are.
The Lord God promised to send shepherds for his Church. Today, the people of God need good and holy priests who will proclaim the Gospel and celebrate the Sacraments for our world. If God is calling you, be courageous in answering, knowing that with St. Paul "we can do all things in him who strengthens us" (cf Phil 4:14).