How do you and your community as a whole respond to the needs of the priest shortage?

How do you and your community as a whole respond to the needs of the greater church in this time of reduced vocations to the priesthood? I am a 23-year old college graduate who feels the still small voice of a vocation to the priesthood, but I feel a strong affinity for the contemplative life. With discerning the two different paths (parish priest or a monk) I feel self-centered thinking about the contemplative life when there is such a need for parish priests.


Please know I’m praying that the Holy Spirit guide you in your discernment.

Trappists are aware of the shortage of priests in the church today and pray ardently that more young men will be inspired to open their hearts and minds to the possibility of following Christ as a priest. As one of a very few orders in the church whose mission is to live a life wholly ordered to contemplation, Trappists view the priest shortage as one more opportunity to return with renewed faith, hope, and love to our silent and hidden life of prayer.

Your own discernment is whether God is calling you to the active apostolate or this hidden life of a contemplative monk. You say you feel self-centered when you think about the contemplative life. You might be confusing the state of happy rest which many people associate with contemplative prayer with something very different: contemplative life. A Trappist monk, living his contemplative vocation day after day for years, over the course of a life time is presented with countless challenges to overcome his selfish desires, in other words, to become less and less self-centered and more other-centered – ultimately, Christ centered.

Perhaps a person relishing the felt consolation of a contemplative moment could be fairly called self-centered. A person committing himself by vows to a life of renunciation in order to free himself from self-preoccupation and be available to love and pray for the world perseveringly until death, is actually becoming day-by-day more and more other-centered.

Martha seems to have believed Mary her sister was being self-centered by remaining still and silent at Jesus’ feet while she looked after a busy household. Jesus said: “Leave her alone.” At this point, Mary and Martha go their different ways. Martha speaks to the hearts of some, Mary to others. What if they were two girls at a dance? You’ve danced with both. Who do you want to leave with?