Vocations in General
Archdiocese of Boston
Braintree, MA


Reverend Daniel Hennessey
Priestly Vocation Director
Office: 617-746-5948
Sr. Germana Santos
Delegate for Religious
Office: 617-746-5637
Deacon Christopher Connelly
Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate
Office: 617-746-5649

Vocations in General


Frequently Asked Questions

Religious Life – Am I worthy enough?
Young adults who come to the point of acknowledging they want to become a priest or religious often say things like: “One of the hardest steps I had to take was to believe that I was actually loved by God and worthy enough to follow Jesus.”  A lot of young people give up before they start because they wonder: “What could God possibly want with me.”

It’s too bad contemporary society offers difficult choices for young people.   The desire to be popular causes some to make choices that are later regretted.  Some feel they no longer have a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.  Consequently, they hesitate to follow through on their deep desire to live close to Jesus and spend their lives making the world a better place.

It is really sad to hear a perfectly beautiful person say: “I am not good enough to be a priest/sister/brother.”  Why not research the facts on requirements for the form of consecrated life that attracts you?  Why not visit the Archdiocesan Vocation Office or contact the vocation directors of some religious communities?  The freedom that you will find once you listen to your heart will be worth the time and effort it takes.

What are the Vows?
Poverty:  It is not only about “how much we do not have.”  Rather it is “something we are”.  Through the vow of poverty we commit to a sharing, not only of what we own but of our talents, time and of ourselves.  By our vow of poverty, we freely renounce our independent use of material goods, committing ourselves to lives as those who personally own nothing. Authentic living of the vow of poverty gives witness to our living in solidarity with the poor and gives hope for a just world.  Poverty not only teaches us to trust in God but also frees us to share with generosity the true gift of who we are.  

It’s not only about who holds the car keys!  Obedience has its origins in the Latin word, obedire that means to listen.  We are all called to listen to the Word of God and to develop a rich prayer life, which cultivates a listening heart where we come to know what is truly God’s will for us.  In living the vow of obedience we do not give up our intelligence, preferences, personality or responsibility.  Rather, obedience calls religious to really listen to God, to one’s deepest stirrings, to the members of their community and not just to do what one wants to do.  Yes, obedience calls religious to poverty of spirit and emptiness.  The challenge of living the vow of obedience comes in hearing something that really may seem impossible for us to live out.  Our abiding faith in the grace of God helps us to be flexible and adaptable in living the vow of Obedience.

All Christians are called to live chaste lives.  Not all Christians are called to live celibate lives.  In today’s society religious speak of the vow of Celibacy.  Celibacy is the promise we make to love all of God’s people wholeheartedly, inclusively and without being “choosy”.  Our vow calls us to be warm, loving and vibrant men and women.  Without marital commitments religious are available for the Gospel.  Celibacy allows us the freedom to go anywhere, to love even the unlovable and to pledge our love to Jesus totally in order to love others.  Celibacy can be a life-giving experience even when we live the daily struggle of its various dimensions.  Therein lies the true challenge.

What did Jesus mean when he said: “Come Follow Me!”  How does this connect to religious life and ordained ministry?
As a religious, Christ calls us to leave all behind to follow him.  This “all” may include certain relationships, possessions, future possibilities, and personal preferences, etc.  It is so that I may place Christ above all, and embrace his mission of proclaiming the Gospel with great availability, in service of all people.  To an extent, we are “leaving behind” our family, friends, possibly even a career.  Sometimes it may mean letting go of preferences of how I would use my time.

I have debts.  Will a community permit me to enter?
It is difficult to give a general answer to this question.  Each community has its own policy regarding financial obligations.  It would be best to discuss this question further with the vocation directors of the particular congregations in which you are interested.

What are the signs of a religious vocation?

  1. A recurring attraction to the religious life
  2. The necessary physical, mental and emotional health to live the vocation fruitfully.  This includes the capacity to grow in affective maturity and the ability to handle our woundedness in a life-giving way.
  3. A spirit of faith that makes one open to guidance and to the various aspects of the religious life.
  4. A sincere desire to embrace the life of the community as one's way to God.