“See discernment as a step by step process. The first question is, ‘what is the desire of my heart in relation to Christ?’”

Slemish Mountain, near Ballymena

“But after I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed – the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers. The spirit within me was then fervent.” 

From The Confession of St. Patrick 


Fr Michael McGinnity

“Discernment to the priesthood is about gathering the relevant information about the Church or ministry that they feel drawn to.
You need evidence to help you discern well”.

Discernment 101, Fr Mike Schmitz

Four Helpful Rules For Discernment

My vocation

As with any vocation, there are signs and circumstances
which may suggest a call to holiness worth exploring.

Enjoy working with people

Apply yourself diligently to studies or job (people can count on you)

Your relationship with God gives you strength and direction

Love of your Catholic faith & participating in the Eucharist

Between the ages of 18 and 50 and open to the challenges of the Catholic church in the 21st century

Willing to learn and grow intellectually, spiritually, and psychologically

“You must be patient; you must wait for the eye of the soul to be formed in you. Religious truth is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception. Anyone can reason; only disciplined, educated, formed minds can perceive.”

St. John Henry Newman

Discernment test

  • Do you find participation in the life of your parish or local church more life-giving and energising than your 40-hour work week?
  • Do you feel called to give more or be more? Does the idea of becoming a brother, sister, or priest keep coming back time and again?
  • Does your relationship with God sustain you, enliven you, invigorate you in such a way that you want to share the Good News with others?
  • Do you long for ‘MORE’?
  • Do you have a sneaking suspicion that you are on the brink of a major life decision?
  • Are you afraid to tell friends and family that you are thinking about a Church vocation?
  • Do you feel a recurring tug in your heart to serve others more?

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of the statements above, then you may have a vocation to the priesthood, diaconate or religious life!

How do I know what God is calling me to?

Our lives are a relationship with the Author of life and we build our relationship with God in many ways. We follow God’s path through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, therefore we can be confident we are following God’s path if we see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The fruits of the Holy Spirit- love, joy, peace etc- are outlined in Galatians 5. A very powerful exercise is to read Galatians 5 (below) and to slowly think about what path in life produces in you more of these fruits. Or which activities in your life currently lead to these fruits? If you find yourself constantly returning to one particular path,  that’s the path God has set out for you to walk.

Galatians 5

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

When discerning the priesthood, it is useful to consider: what makes my life my more joyful? This doesn’t mean a superficial kind of giddiness like going to a football game and getting excited when your home team wins. But what gives you an abiding sense of peace and joy?

If the thought of becoming a priest consistently brings a sense of peace and joy over a sustained period of time, this is a sign that this may be God’s path for you. Do you find a particular sense of meaning and fulfilment whilst engaging in religious activities such as evangelising, reading Scripture or learning about the faith? This is another sign that priesthood could be God’s path for you.

So go over the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5 and look for those signs while you think about life as a priest.