Read This Before You Think About Seminary…

Pointing-Finger

by Fr. George Aquaro

I’ve known a lot of men who have deeply yearned to go to seminary. They can all describe in great detail how they felt ‘called’ to become priests, something they sometimes also refer to as ‘ministry’ or ‘ordination to the Holy Priesthood.’

But as we all know, just because you feel something very deeply, that does not make it right or true. All that a feeling tells you is that you feel something. Never forget that.

Most men who think about becoming priests think about the glamorous bits, like serving in front of the Holy Altar or providing wise counsel to those humbled by sin. The more mundane bits, like sitting through endless meetings or being patently ignored by most of the congregation, usually gets swept away with grandiose visions of being the next Elder Paisios or St. John Chrysostom.

I’m not going to tell you to go or not to go, but I am going to say that you need to double- and triple-check yourself before you go off to seminary. If you succeed at passing through seminary (which is almost guaranteed, but more on that later), and are ordained, there will be many people who will be gravely wounded by your failure if you pushed your way into Holy Orders without being honest about who you are and what you are actually there to do.

Being deposed is painful and humiliating not just for you, but for your family and the parishioners whom you once served. Your brother priests will also feel the anguish of seeing one of their own go ‘down in flames.’

So, here are a few things that I have learned along the way. Some of these things I did before I was a seminarian, while others I learned in the ‘trial by fire’ manner. Do I have an exemplary ministry to point to… hardly. I have made a great deal of mistakes and coasted the very shores ‘official sanction.’ Honestly, it is a miracle I’m still functioning as a priest.

More experienced priests will likely have a longer list, and you would do well to talk to the successful men who have served 30 or 40 years. They deserve your admiration and attention for surviving. Many of them were doing things I thought were the byproducts of laziness or incompetence. But, then I started to walk in their shoes and discovered that most long-serving priests as reserves of great knowledge and quite proficient.

Of course, if you are pig-headed and determined to get what you want no matter what, then just skip reading this. You know everything already, and nothing that I have to say will apply to you because you are ‘special.’ But, do remember that special people have special problems, and special problems are always much more difficult to deal with. This is why, as I have gotten older and past that need to be special, that I have yearned to be average. It is much easier to have a disease that is treatable ‘over the counter.’

Here is a list of 10 things to think about before you consider going to seminary:

1) Get a mental health evaluation

You may not be crazy for wanting to be ordained, but it helps to get confirmation on this. But, just as important is getting an outside evaluation on your personality characteristics. Going through such tests as the MMPI and other personality inventories can show you your strengths and weaknesses. If you do not know yourself, you are heading for big trouble.

The stresses of the priesthood are trying, both psychologically and spiritually, and both of these can wreck your body, your mind, and your relationships. The devil will also play soccer with your brain, and so you need to know which buttons the Enemy will push. You should also have a game-plan for stress relief, and don’t think that you are just going to pray your problems away.

It is very important to get an unbiased, outside opinion on your personality. We all tend to exaggerate ourselves, and that is a dangerous thing. We also tend to surround ourselves with friends who will not tell us the hard things. So, find someone who can tell you the most difficult things and then listen to what these things really mean for you.

2) Priests are for parishes

They say that a bishop has a one-track mind… all he thinks is ‘parish.’ He oversees the parishes of his diocese. That’s his job and it is what he will get judged for when we are all called to account. When a bishop sees a priest, he automatically sees that priest in one of his parishes, or he will see how best to avoid having that priest anywhere near one of his parishes.

A bishop is not really interested in things outside the parish. Your visions about teaching at the local college and serving just on Sundays are just absolute jibberish to him even when he nods in agreement and smiles. He has parishes to fill, and he will stop at nothing to push you into a full-time parish ministry if he thinks you will work there.

Sure, you can refuse, but then you become something of a ‘wasted’ effort for him. A priest who cannot serve in a parish is like a hammer without a handle. And, if he has no need for you, don’t expect his attention or any favors. He has a lot of other priests who are serving faithfully and are more deserving of his energy.

And, do remember that parish ministry always takes twice as much time as previously estimated. My phone rings twice as much on my days off as on the days where I diligently watch it, which is why I gave up planned days off. If you want to split your time between the parish and something else, parishioners will always demand the time that you reserve for something other than them.

So, you’d better be ready to commit everything to parish life, and realize that whatever life you have outside of the parish is secondary to the bishop’s concerns. He is not there to make you fulfill your dreams. Remember this, and all of your interactions with the bishop will go much smoother than if you think that he is supposed to respond to your opinions and fantasies. He has plenty of his own to keep him occupied.

Once you make that commitment, and then the parish cannot support you, then you may consider an outside job or commitment. That’s the natural way things work. Outside jobs are to support the ministry, not the other way around.

3) If you can’t obey, then don’t try to play

Obedience is central to the priest. He has no real authority beyond what the bishop grants him, and what Despota giveth, Despota taketh away. As a priest, you are a servant of the Most High through His instrument, the bishop.

This means that when he says jump, you say ‘how high?’ as you are jumping. This also means doing things you hate or even profoundly disagree with. If you can’t manage to violate your own opinions about the ‘right way’ to do things, then don’t give the Priesthood another thought. The bishop has the canonical right to manage his parishes, and if you interfere in his ministry, do not expect him to be pleasant. He’s done your job and his for longer than you have done yours.

You can disagree with him in private, but you’d better obey in public. And, that also means by carrying out these tasks without making a big scene to show your disapproval. If you obey, your bishop will later on take your opinions seriously, but he won’t in the beginning because, after all, you’ll be a ‘baby priest’ and we all know that they are the ecclesiastical version of a puppy.

Some priests will protest and say that the bishop’s demands are unreasonable and that they have a right to disobey. Some can even point to major disobediences that they have done right under the bishop’s nose. This is because

a) experienced priests know how to bend the rules, and

b) experienced priests know that so long as the parish is healthy, the bishop will be far more tolerant of disobedience than he will if the parish is unhealthy or the priest is messing up.

New priests can afford to get the reputation of being rebellious. If you get this label, you will end up getting moved from bishop to bishop, and assigned to communities that are totally dysfunctional (i.e. waiting either to be closed down or to receive a real miracle-worker). Now, if you are into fixing broken communities, then go ahead and disobey.

4) You are there to serve these people

While this may be glaringly obvious, it is a major problem that new clergy wrestle with. Usually, immature priests try to implement their visions on their communities without first actually getting to know the people. And, getting to really know the people can take years, because they will not immediately share their secrets with you just because you wear black.

This means that you have to be patient and deal with the parish as it is when you get there, rather than busying yourself to make it more like something you envisioned in seminary. When you immediately launch into a big plan to change things without knowing the people, then they will get the distinct impression that you either don’t respect them or do not even care about them

Then you won’t be serving them at all.

Most of the time, serving the people is not about hearing confessions and serving the Holy Mysteries. It is about keeping the roof from leaking and the people from killing each other. If you can actually get your parishioners to like each other, you will have done a might act.

Many priests like to think about implementing ‘ministries’ and ‘parish activities’ and ‘more services’ without first getting to know the people and what they need to grow. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to parish life, so get that delusion out of your head right now. People are different, both as individuals and as communities.

If you must change them before you can love them, then you are not cut out for parish life. You have to love them first, and be willing to love them even if they refuse to change, because most of them will not change and will fight any kind of change tooth-and-nail. You must love them as they are, warts and all. Love is the only thing that really changes people.

5) Don’t take yourself seriously

The more serious and rigid you are, the less likely you will be able to receive sound advice and change your tactics to better suit your situation. New priests are just like anyone else who is new at something: awkward. The best thing to do is acknowledge this awkwardness.

Start being humble right now. You don’t have to know everything or be perfect to be a Christian or an effective priest. If you are one of those people who can’t stand being wrong, then you had better fix that before you consider ministry. No amount of study or time in seminary will take away the fact that when you walk into your first parish assignment, you are doing your job for the first time. It will be ugly, so have your apologies ready.

While our culture is overly informal, and the Church is not a place for frivolous informality, there is a difference between being rigid and being guarded. You can never let all of your guard down, but neither should you always be on the defensive. Be compassionate: parishioners don’t need to know all of the priest’s problems, but you can let them know that you have experienced suffering not unlike their own. The details matter little. Rigid priests try to look like nothing’s wrong, and dysfunctional priests spew nothing by their unresolved issues all over the floor. You can let people know you know their pain, but leave it at that.

That means getting help when you need it. Find a confessor, and get counseling if you need to. It is important that you model for your parishioners how they should also deal with their problems. You can be an example to them in this regard. If you act like you have no problems, then the parishioners will not know how to deal with their own. They certainly won’t trust you, because they figure that you won’t understand them at all.

6) People will like you for what you do, not who you are

Parishioners don’t care about your opinions of yourself. They care about finding an end to their suffering. Don’t expect them to appreciate anything about you that is not directly related to what their needs are and what you are doing to help them. Not even being a priest. After all, there are good priests and bad ones. You won’t be their first.

They do not care as much about how many degrees you hold or facts that you have memorized, as much as they are truly concerned as to whether you love them or not. Let’s not forget, the only thing the Church offers people is Love, and a Divine one at that. You must love them through your actions.

Before you think about seminary, you must first be spiritually healed enough to love others. If your impulse is to judge and condemn, then do not even bother to ask about seminary. You will only make things bad for yourself and for others.

To return to the previous point, parishioners know when you are doing something to ‘fix’ them because you don’t like them. The key to ministry is encouraging the people to want to change, and then they will ask you to help them. When you respond to their needs, they see that as love. It is a long process to get people to want to change, so a big part of loving is waiting.

People know this, and they have the highest regard for those who waited for them to become willing. This is the hardest single part of being a priest: watching people suffer and waiting patiently for a moment of willingness.

7) Get a non-religious hobby

Satan’s hobby is religion. That’s because his real job is far darker. As a priest, you cannot have reading religious books as your pastime, because that is part of your job. You will need moments of escape from stress of parish life and religion, which is what a hobby provides.

Do not think that every waking moment will be devoted to perfect prayer, because it will not. We all need to pray and study, but we also need to relax at times.

Parenting is important, but that is also not a hobby. It is important to spend time with the family, but you will also need another way to blow off steam without falling into immorality, the temptation to which will be your constant companion if you become a priest.

There are lots of hobbies out there. Just walk through an art supply shop or the tool isle of the hardware store. You may try three or four before you find the right one, so just keep trying.

If you are going to identify with your parishioners, then you will need to experience their world. Take off the cassock and make friends with non-Orthodox. It is good to be around people who will not judge you the way your parishioners will.

8) Don’t get a priest to mentor you, get three or four

Every experienced priest has his strengths and weaknesses. By getting more than one advisor to help you in your spiritual development and discernment, you are less likely to overlook a serious problem. Advice is good, and more advice is better.

If you do fall down the rabbit-hole and are sent to seminary, it is important to know your bishop’s priorities and preferences, then find priests that he respects to model yourself after. You may find a well-respected priest to mentor you who, while being successful in every other way, is constantly at odds with your bishop. He will likely give you advice that is good, but will set you on the same path of conflict with the hierarch, which for your ‘newbie’ status can spell disaster.

Most ‘successfully rebellious’ priests took years to get to where they are now, and chances are they did none of what they do now when they started. If you try to start off mimicking their behavior, you will find yourself quickly kicked to the curb.

9) Seminary experience is indispensible, but the education is nominal

Seminaries are employment opportunities for faculty, and so they are not in the business of alienating their clients, the bishops. Bishops send ordination candidates to seminaries, and want them sent back in reasonably good shape and prepped for ordination.

That means that the bishop has largely made up his mind that you are a candidate just by approving your application. The seminaries know this and generally don’t try to interfere with the bishop’s decision without his permission. That means that if you give seminary a halfway decent effort, you will pass. Grades are not what you should be looking at.

Seminary is a great time to get rid of your idealism. You will find that what you thought were cut-and-dry theological questions were far murkier and ambiguous. You will also discover that there is more than one way of doing something in the Church

The most important thing to do in seminary is test your own moral mettle. When one of your classmates is struggling, will you help him? Will you learn to drop your rigid opinions and be open to explore the fullness of Orthodoxy in its many ‘flavors?’

Seminary is not about becoming the smartest guy in the room. That’s the professor’s job. Your job is to examine yourself, both in terms of your beliefs, but more especially in terms of your character.

10) Knowledge and morality are different

There’s a popular belief that the more you know, the ‘better choices’ you will make. Well, that’s absurd: smart people have the same temptations as uneducated people do. The difference is that smart people are better at hiding their tracks… most often times from themselves.

Immorality is not treated by education programs. People know when they are sinning, and if given the chance to reflect on themselves, they will admit they know that something is wrong with what they are doing.

The same is true of you: just because you go to seminary does not mean that you will be a better Orthodox Christian. In fact, seminary and ordination can lead you far away from God if you depend on knowledge to justify your actions rather than the fruits of the actions themselves. So, if your sermons are full of facts, but put everyone to sleep, then your sermons are ‘immoral,’ because your job is not to lull people into a stupor, but awaken them to God’s love.

Knowledge of the Faith is important to help encourage people to be united to Christ and be transformed, but memorizing religious facts is not the same as theosis or repentance or even genuine conversion. God rewards mercy and compassion, not how many books you have read or how many Fathers you can quote.

There are more things I could add, but these are the big ones that I have had to deal with in my short time as a priest. If I were to summarize it all, it would be to say this, ‘Stay humble, and you may survive being a priest.’ Pride and arrogance are our temptations and our enemies.

Do not be in a rush, and God will open the right door when the time is ready.

 

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  1. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

  2. very hard-hitting article– should be read not just by everyone thinking of ordination, but also by bishops and seminary professors! Just yesterday I made a post about priests and their relationships with their fathers, another item I think should be looked at long and hard by candidates for the clergy and by those who train and ordain them. I could not find anything online about the topic– perhaps your site should do some interviews of priestly fathers-and-sons?

    And perhaps it would make a good thesis topic for a graduate student at one of our seminaries…

    P.S. the link to the source is broken

    • Link is good when I test it.

      I’m not sure what you mean by priests and their relationships with their fathers. Are you implying that there are daddy issues with clergy? Why would you think that?

      • The link goes to a ‘content not available’ screen on Facebook– perhaps there’s a privacy setting issue?

        I can’t seem to post a link to my post here, where I have a few thoughts about this topic. Yes, I suspect there may be ‘daddy issues’ with some clergy, as there are with our whole society. Priests play a fatherly role, and our ideas of fatherhood are formed where we grow up, in our families. In a society where respect for fatherhood has been declining for a long time, many men are growing up without a positive father figure in the home.

        But I also find it interesting that many clergy kids don’t follow their fathers into the ministry because they’ve seen their fathers suffer a lot in the church. In the Orthodox church, priests’ kids used to be the mainstay of new vocations. Some of them still do enter the priesthood– I think it would be instructive to know what makes them want to do that.

  3. Pingback: A hardened priest (not me!) speaks to seminarians | Blog of a Country Priest

  4. I think this is a great article. It is not meant to only be read by those wanting to join a seminary. All priests should read this article. I also think that lay people who are in ministry should read this. All Christians are called to Love like their Master Jesus Christ. All Christians are called to be humble. Pride and arrogance belong to the Devil.

  5. Pingback: Some thoughts on the priestly vocation (impediments and advice)

  6. Well, I’m a young man who feels called, I’m idealistic and prideful, so I’m totally screwed.

  7. I am a Roman Catholic man considering ordination to the diaconate. This is an excellent article and would recomend all Christians to read it. Regards, FrancoAmerican

    • Thanks for your question. This is an Orthodox Christian vocations website, so I cannot speak about Roman Catholic practices. Orthodoxy allows married men to be ordained, but does not marry same-sex couples. A man married to another man could not be ordained as an Orthodox priest. I hope this answers your question.

    • Hey Thomas. I just wanted to try to answer your question. The answer is no, you can’t be a gay Catholic priest and have a husband. You can’t be a straight Catholic priest, and have a wife either, unless you Join the priesthood as an Anglican. And I’ve heard people argue before that technically the Catholic Church doesn’t consider any marriage except between one man and one woman a real marriage(This is true), so technically gay married men should be able to become priests, because the Church doesn’t actually view their marriage as valid.. That being said, I think the argument is kind intrinsically disordered. The Catholic teaching(contrary to popular belief) is not to hate LGBT people, but we do believe that sex should be reserved for a married couple, of man and wife. Gay sex sort of falls along the lines of Pre-marital sex, in that it’s sex being used for the wrong purpose; The correct purpose of sex being bonding between man and wife, and baby-making. If you take out either of these elements, then you are kind of purposefully choosing to take one of God’s most wonderful gifts to humanity, and use it in the wrong way. Like if you spent a crazy amount of time, or money or something, and got your child the baseball glove that you know will be the best gift they’ve ever gotten or could ever want.. Also, you love baseball, so you’re excited to go play baseball with them.. Maybe they take this amazingly beautiful gift of that baseball glove you’ve given them(sexuality), and then take it outside and use it to dig holes with it.. Or maybe they use it as an oven mitt.. The point being, they don’t use it to the fulfillment of its purpose… That’s what happens when we have sex with contraception, or pre-maritally, or with someone/something outside of our opposite gender in a valid marriage. We take the beautiful gift of sexuality that God gave us, and use it, but not to its intended purpose…
      So, now that we’re all on the same page, I wanted to answer your question again. The answer is no, Thomas. A gay man with a husband cannot enter the Catholic priesthood anymore than a man who has a girlfriend who lives at his apartment, and with whom he has regular sex, can enter the priesthood. I’m sure if they lied for all the years through seminary, and really fought to get there, and hid their lifestyles all of the time, maybe they would have a chance… But why would they? Do we really want a clergy that had to lie all the way through seminary? A clergy that doesn’t support the beliefs of the Church they’ve taken vows to share with the world?.. A gay man who embraces a gay lifestyle, and yet enters the priesthood, is a man who would live his life in contradiction. He would preach to the world about forsaking oneself to follow the Will of the Father, and in his own life would go home to do the exact opposite, and use an amazing gift from God for something other than the intended purpose… I don’t think that is the kind of man we want leading our Church, is it Thomas?…
      Thank you so much for your question. I really hope I answered it in a way that’s acceptable to you..
      I’ll be praying for you Thomas.
      Good luck in your discernment…

      Isaac

      • Thank you, for the replies to my question. I asked the question since Notre Dame University had an openly gay priest. I forgot his name but, everyone knew he was gay. He was not thought of as a bad person or priest. To let you know a little more about me. I do have a gay boyfriend and we do not have gay sex. We enjoy each other’s love , companionship, and commitment to each other. So, am I not allowed to be a gay Catholic?

        • Again, this is an Orthodox Christian vocations website. It is NOT the appropriate place to talk about whether or not anyone is “allowed to be a gay Catholic” or about the alleged existence of gay Catholic priests. If you have a vocations question (especially regarding the Orthodox Church), I encourage you to ask. There are many other forums for discussing this issue. I will not be allowing any more comments on this issue. Thank you.

        • Thomas, if you want to be a gay Catholic, why are you asking Orthodox priests? You’re in the wrong place.

  8. I’m in a period of discernment to see if I’m called to the priesthood of The Episcopal Church and I’m so glad I came across this blog entry. I’m young and can be easily carried away by idealism and visions of great deeds done and hard battles won. What I keep trying to tell myself, and what this reminded me, is that I’m at at the basement and if I earn my collar and cassock, I will be even lower on the totem pole.

    Thank you for this gut check, Fr. George.

    • Just remember, this is a website for those discerning priesthood in the Orthodox Church. What the Episcopal Church is looking for is quite different.

      • Understood, Fr. John and I appreciate that, but the lessons taught here seem universal to all clergy, Orthodox or otherwise, especially about taking on the discernment period with humility and clarity.

        • They should be, but having been through a good portion of the ‘discernment’ process in the EC (long story), I can tell you – they are looking for something else entirely. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

          • Andy, yes – First of all, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you.

            Speak to your priest immediately about it.

            Begin reading the Bible, aloud, a lot. If you need help with that, let me know.

            The process of discerning a vocation is a wonderful, and scary, process. The only way to know is to begin.

            and of course, you’ll be in my prayers. Let me know how it goes, and if I can help.

            Fr. John

          • Thank you Father John I talked to my priest and contacted a seminary school here in Toronto hopefully it will work out what is the average age of a man for ordination I am 32 hoping I won’t be too old

          • Andy, I was 32 when I went to seminary, and I was neither the youngest, nor the oldest… by far. Don’t worry about that.

  9. I love this article! Am just confuse about my life. Ever since I was little, I hv wanted to be a priest, but am confused if am really called or was it just a mere mirage

    • First things first – talk to your priest. He will help you begin discerning and clearing up the confusion. Can’t wait? Want to know the real criteria for determining whether or not you are called? Read John 21.

  10. I would like to become priest. Please suggest me a dioces in Europe or any other place. I am ex seminarian. I studied upto 3rd year theology

    • Dear Ajo – Christ is Born!
      We need to be careful not be mercenary (or in a hurry) in our approach to the priesthood. Find a parish and serve there as a devout layman. Then, should the process continue, your priest will recommend you for the next step in the process. God bless you as you serve Him!

  11. I’ve read this article it is really fabulous.

    I have this burning passion for priesthood while still growing up but later went to the university to study accountancy. I am a graduate of accountancy from the university of Abuja nigeria and I have this zeal towards my vocation.

    I am 30 years of age, and wish to be admitted into the seminary of the catholic priesthood as a candidate.

    Please can I have any of the address here?

    Thank you and remain blessed in his veinyard.

    Emmanuel.

    • Emmanuel, this is a site for Vocations for Orthodox Christians, not Roman Catholics. Contact your local Orthodox bishop and talk to him about it.

  12. Wow..wonderful article Fr Peck! So I’ve been studying and learning orthodoxy for over a year now and am sort of a catechumen. Before that, I pastored and then later was a Bishop (in addition to a full time job) in Nondemoninational/ Charismatic churches for some years before starting my own ministry many years ago.

    Long story short, I felt that something was missing in my years of Protestant and Nondenimational ministries, plus I began to disagree with the direction it was going and all the so many false doctrines being taught from so many pulpits today. I didn’t like how there was no continuity and everyone believed whatever they want or interpreted scripture differently.

    I then began praying and looking and searching for the “early church”. I never knew about Orthodoxy until about a little over a year ago. Once I found this, I’ve been amazed and delighted to know such a wonderful, traditional, and time honored church existed!! I have been reading, studying and learning everything I can about Orthodoxy and visiting orthodox churches and monasteries.

    Since this time, I’ve also been thinking of maybe one day becoming a clergy member within Orthodoxy. I do know the struggles and problems within ministry and churches, but this article also gives a new and different perspective. I’ve always known and felt called to ministry since childhood and many that know me say the same thing. I’ve also been involved with and in ministry all my life and have pastored, been a deacon, bible study and Sunday School teacher, done evangelism, missions work, and many other various forms of ministry throughout my life. I was also very good at preaching, ministering , pastoring and loved every moment of it. Infact, I did it for free. But now being in this church I don’t know what that will mean for me. So I’ll have to pray and think about whether becoming an Orthodox priest or clergy member is right for me…..

  13. What do you suggest for someone who wants to go to seminary, but a) is heavily burdened with debts from college; b) has a spouse who is not ready to either move away, or is not ready to become a khouria?

    • Yes, first – talk to your priest. This is all part of the discernment process.

      Second, get a marketable skill. You may have a college degree, but can you make a living and start paying down that debt? If not, consider a medical profession or one of the trades. Why? Work is plentiful and they pay.

      Third, pray together. Most wives of seminarians aren’t ready to step into the role of a priest’s wife. Seminary forms them also. Again, I recommend talking to your priest.

    • Again, your priest is your first point of contact. Some bishops take advantage of late vocation programs; some don’t. Mine do (UOC-USA). But my real advice has to do with priorities – I would NEVER advocate a man moving towards ordination without the support of his wife. Nor would I advocate a man with a lot of debts seek ordination. I hope this is not disappointing. The Church needs committed laymen, too – it is a call that many overlook! This is no consolation prize; the witness of the pious and devoted layman is priceless.

  14. Hello Father, nice article. I have felt a calling to the Priesthood for years now. However I am a terrible singer and I know how important that is in Orthodoxy. Can this be overcome or should I look for other ways to serve the church?

    • God bless you, Brandon.
      Thanks for writing.
      A couple of thoughts; one is that becoming a priest takes a while, so I do encourage you to find ways to serve in the meantime.
      As for singing, it may depend on the tradition (and, of course, the bishops). In mine, services can be done well as long as the priest can match pitch and keep it simple. Except in rare cases, matching pitch and simple liturgizing can be taught and learned. IMO (and, based on how infrequently this is done, I am in the minority on this), music/voice lessons are a good investment, regardless of whether you go on to the priesthood. As with most priestly skills (e.g. preaching, teaching, leading), some people have an affinity for music but all priests can be trained to liturgize passably well.
      In Christ,
      Fr Anthony