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​Welcome to the website for the Office of Priestly Vocations of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. This year twenty-five men from our diocese will be in seminary formation programs in preparation for ordination, seven of whom are new to formation. Thirteen of these men are at St. John Vianney College Seminary and twelve are at USML/Mundelein Seminary.

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360 Division Ave. S. Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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The Priesthood

A diocesan priest ordinarily serves the church within a well-defined area (a diocese). He serves the people as a parish priest, but may also be involved in other forms of ministry: teaching, chaplain in hospitals, prisons, campus ministry, etc.

A religious priest, on the other hand, is a member of a community which goes beyond the geographical limits of any diocese. A religious priest seeks to live a vowed life within a community of men for mutual support and accomplishment of some work. There is an emphasis in the community on shared ideals, prayer and commitment to Christ. Religious priests work in a wide variety of ministries.

Although diocesan priests make no vows like a religious priest, at ordination, they freely make promises of celibacy and obedience to their bishop.

Check out the national page about the priesthood to learn more about the call, what priests do, and inspiring stories.  Follow this link to learn more:

Books and Materials

To save a thousand souls book cover

To Save a Thousand Souls (contact fr. stephen)

Priests for the Third Mellennium book cover

Priests for the Third Millennium – Dolan (contact fr. stephen)

Maurice and Therese book cover

Maurice and Therese

Introduction to the Devout Life - Francis de Sales book cover

Introduction to the Devout Life – Francis de Sales

The Discernment of Spirits - An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living - Gallagher book cover

The Discernment of Spirits – An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living – Gallagher

Discerning the will of God book cover

Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Decision Making – Gallagher

Christ the Ideal of the Priest book cover

Christ: The Ideal of the Priest – Fr. Columb Marmion

Is Jesus calling you to be a Catholic Priest? book cover

Is Jesus Calling You to be a Catholic Priest? – Fr. Thomas Richter (contact Fr. Stephen)

The Priest is Not His Own - Fulton Sheen book cover

The Priest is Not His Own – Fulton Sheen

Saint Augustine Confessions book cover

Confessions – St. Augustine

Resources for Parents

Statistics tell us that most parents think that it’s tougher to be a parent now than it was when they were kids. Most feel they don’t have enough time for family life and that society isn’t supporting the values for which the family stands. Yours is the responsibility to help form young people into healthy, faith-filled, Christians in a world with competing values. As a parent, you are called to be one of the guideposts that kids need as they try to find their vocation in life. Each of your children is being called to a vocation specific to him or her. Contained within your child’s call to a specific vocation may be your call as a parent to be the mother or father of a priest, deacon, or religious. Consider the mystery of God’s plan for your child’s life!

A priest in the family – Fr. Brannen (for parents, contact Fr. Stephen)

Sometimes parents are surprised when their son expresses his desire to be a priest.  This surprise is not easy to articulate.  Parents want to be supportive of their sons, but at the same time need to understand how their reaction impacts his discernment.

For many parents, the initial feeling may be one of disappointment as they grapple with the idea that their son will not be a father who will give them grandchildren.  But the greater concern for parents is wondering if their sons will enjoy a life of friendship and happiness.  The call to priesthood is a simultaneous call to celibacy.  This does not mean a life lived alone.  Rather, it is a life lived with a deep trust that God’s friendship is enough.  Priests are called to remain in Christ’s love, who no longer calls us slaves, but friends (John 15:9-13). And so, those that God calls to be priests are not called to live a life alone, but in an intimate friendship with Christ.  It is this experience of Christ’s love that drives these men to become priests, because in helping others to recognize how much Christ loves them, they receive meaning and joy in their lives.

It may take a few years for parents to warm up to the idea of their son becoming a priest.  For many the convincing moment comes when they see their son happy and excited to serve God. And this, is the message for any parent who is surprised with their son’s desire to be a priest. God calls men to the priesthood because he knows your sons better than they know themselves.  Thus, God knows that in priesthood, in loving service to God’s people, your sons will be most happy.  That’s what every parent desires for their children, that they will be happy.  If your son is experiencing a call to the priesthood I invite you to thank God for that gift.  But, I also invite you to consider how happy the priesthood will make your son – and not only your son, but the people he will faithfully bring into an encounter with our loving God.

Parents if you have questions please feel free to contact Fr. Stephen Durkee.


Parents Prayer for their Children

Loving Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you have created my children special and unique and I give thanks and praise for them. Help me to guide them well and to pray for them deeply.

Open their hearts to your word that they may know the sound of your voice in a world filled with distractions. May they hear your call to live lives of Christian service. If you are calling my children to a life of Church ministry, my prayer is that your call will be steady and irresistible.

Grant me, too, a generous heart to open my arms one day to give them to your service. May your tender care keep my children safe, especially as they discern their vocations in life.

Loving God, what I ask for my children, I ask for all children: help them to know your presence at all times and to be open to the promptings of your Spirit who is one with you and your Son now and forever. Amen.

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