Yes, I’m happily and joyfully making my way back home to the Episcopal Church where I belong! Yes, I’ve wrestled with and struggled with a perceived calling to priesthood for almost a decade.
No, I will not pursue seminary for quite awhile, especially if I’m not licensed as a professional counselor. I wanna be a therapist and part of the laity for awhile.
Even if, by God’s grace, I get to become a seminarian and maybe, even more so by God’s grace, become an ordained priest, I’ll always be a therapist even as a priest and probably still wanna do some sort of low income/income-based private practice because, as a counselor, I’m called to serve the poor and oppressed!
Becoming a priest isn’t an abandoning of counseling, just a fulfilling of that counseling role in that being a priest is a “liturgical counselor” role for me. As a priest the best “therapy” I’d use is the Eucharist. The two roles overlap in so many ways!
Anyone who has read “Generation to Generation,” by Dr. Friedman, the premise is basically that clergy have more “therapeutic leadership” than counselors because clergy live life with congregations and bury people, help couples, celebrate births, etc. Clergy get more involved in the lives of their congregations than counselors do their clients.
Friedman proposes that clergy are therapist and can have a greater impact by their closer proximity and more intimate level of interaction than counselors. Imagine being a therapist-priest and realizing that! If I don’t become a lifelong counselor in the sense of working strictly with counseling, I’ll never forgo counseling because that’s a vital part of priesthood for me and always will be!
The therapist-priest role is one that is rare, incredibly impactful, deeply Sacramental, very intimate, and salvific on the part of the one who serves as priest!
All in all, I’ll continue to serve as a therapist as a vocation and lay member until God says I’m ready for priesthood if I’m meant to take that path of salvation and vocation. Lord have mercy!