Your son has indicated he is thinking that God is calling him to be a priest, and you have a lot of questions. You've come to the right place. Your our best course of action is to contact Father Joe Pins and schedule a time to visit with him. He can walk you through the steps from the time a young man says he might be interested in the priesthood to ordination day.
As Father Pins crisscrosses southwest Iowa talking to young men and their parents about the priesthood, he hears some common concerns and questions.
"I hear parents tell me their son is too young to think about the priesthood," said Father Pins. "I ask them if their son is too young to ponder being a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher. Each of us is called by God to serve others in some way. I ask parents to be open to the possibility that their son or daughter may be called to religious life and encourage their child to think about and pray about how they can answer that call."
Once a young man or woman visits with Father Pins about religious life, he puts them on a path. For those interested in religious life, he connects them with discernment opportunities that help them determine the right religious community with a charism that matches the applicant. If a person is interested in a specific religious community, Father Pins can help that person with the first call or visit to the community.
For a young man interested in the priesthood, there is an application process to complete. The bishop extends an invitation to the man to be a part of the diocesan seminary program and he is assigned to a school. Those who do not have a college degree are placed at a seminary where they can earn a philosophy degree while being in a prayerful environment conducive to discernment. Those who already have a degree spend a few years in major seminary studying theology, earning what's essentially a master's degree.
When he is ready, a man is ordained a transitional deacon. This means he is able to celebrate the sacraments as a permanent deacon and is on a path that leads to priesthood. Generally about a year later, the man is ordained a priest.
As parents help their children through college, so too, parents are asked to assist their children as they make their way through the seminary. Contact Father Pins at 515-237-5050 to talk about how parents are asked to support their sons while they discern their call and prepare for priesthood or religious life.