The Cost of Conversion

Written by Joel on April 3rd, 2008

For me this decision it not simply one of which church I will attend on Sunday mornings.

This decision will change my life.

For the past 5 years I have not even entertained the notion that I was called to be anything other than an ordained minister. However, if I were to decide to today to join the Roman Catholic Church, I would have to give up my vocation.

I have also be called to family life and I am married. For this reason the priesthood is not an option for me, because the Roman Catholic Church practices priestly celibacy. This is probably the biggest deterrent to my decision to join the Catholic Church. I cannot see doing anything other than preaching, counseling, administering the sacraments, and leading a congregation when I imagine my future self. The possibility that I may not be called to the clergy has just recently creep into my head.

I would be facing a serious career change. I suppose with my seminary education I would be qualified to teach, be a youth minister, or pastoral assistant of some kind, and one day be able to enter the diaconate. The latter option would not be available to me for about 10 years do to age requirements.

I currently serve as in the Army National Guard as a chaplain candidate. (Chaplain candidates are soldiers who are preparing for the ordained minister. The expectation is that they will become “real” chaplains following completion of their education/church requirements) Chaplains are ordained members of the clergy. Again, this not being an option for me in the Roman Catholic Church I would have a choice to make. I would have to select another army job and attend O.C.S. because my direct commission would no long be recognized; or I would have to resign.

Beyond the career change I would be facing many financial costs if I were to join the Catholic Church. Many of my scholarships were given with the assumption that I would become an ordained member of the protestant clergy. All of which automatically become loans if I do not fulfill this obligation

  • Scholarship #1 $6,000
  • Scholarship #2 $9,000
  • Home Congregation Support $7,200
  • Regional Church Support $4,000
  • Total scholarships needing to be paid back: $26,200

I also imagine my home congregation, family (who are all protestant), my school, friends, etc. would all be less than understanding in this matter; especially those who have invested a great deal of time into my development for Christian ministry.

So, this is not just a simple choosing of which church best suits me. This is a decision which would cause a great deal of turmoil in my life. But again, I feel a bit like the rich young ruler who turned from Jesus because of his worldly affairs.

In my next post I will share some of the reflections that lead me to this turning point.

Thanks for reading.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to mention that if you convert you would not necessarily have to give up your vocation. You could become a deacon in the Catholic Church. Married men are allowed this vocation.
    Good luck.

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