In To Save a Thousand Souls: Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood (Vianney Vocations, 2010), Fr. Brett Bannon devotes an entire chapter to the characteristics of a good candidate for priesthood. He identifies 20 “signs” of a possible vocation to diocesan priesthood, since that is the focus of the book. However, I think these particular signs could also point to a vocation to the priesthood as a member of a religious community.
Fr. Brannen, an experienced vocation director and vice-rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, gives two important caveats before diving into his list of signs.
First, the Lord can call anyone to serve as a priest. A potential candidate may not initially have all the qualities listed here, and that’s okay.
Second, the discernment of a priestly vocation should be a deliberate process involving one’s spiritual director, vocation director, and other sound spiritual guides.
According to Fr. Brannen, a good candidate for priesthood should . . .
(1) Know and love Jesus Christ and experience a thirst to bring Jesus and His teachings to the world.
(2) Be a believing, practicing Catholic.
(3) Be striving to live a life of prayer.
(4) Live and desire a life of service to others.
(5) Have a desire to be a priest.
(6) In many cases, have his call validated by other people.
(7) Find his calling validated in Sacred Scripture.
(8) Be striving to live a virtuous life.
(9) Have good people skills.
(10) Have above-average intelligence (but those who struggle academically should not lose heart!).
(11) Be physically, emotionally, and psychologically stable.
(12) Be joyful and have a good sense of humor.
(13) Have a “priest’s heart.”
(14) Have self-possession and self-mastery.
(15) Show stability in lifestyle.
(16) Be a Christian gentleman.
(17) Have life experiences that point toward priesthood.
(18) Be able to accept both success and failure peacefully.
(19) Have a healthy psycho-sexual development and orientation.
(20) Be truly open to the will of God for his life.
For an explanation of each of these possible signs, see pages 77-108 of Fr. Brannen’s excellent vocation resource.