What to Read?

Things to read about Priesthood and Vocation

There are many good books, websites and articles about priesthood and vocation to help and inspire us. This is just a small selection.

Stephen Rossetti, The Joy of Priesthood
Ave Maria Press, 2005 [A very positive, inspiring, and realistic view of priesthood, which faces the big issues, written by someone who has spent much of his priestly life ministering to priests]

Scott Hahn, Many are Called
Doubleday, 2010 [This renowned Scripture scholar examines the Biblical and historical roots of the priesthood, reflecting on the priest’s role as spiritual father to God’s people]

Tony Philpot, Priesthood in Reality
Kevin Mayhew, 1997 [Reflections on priesthood in his own life and his rich experiences with other priests]

Michael Hollings, Living Priesthood
McCrimmon Publishing Company, 1977 [Autobiography and reflections of a much-loved Westminster priest]

Fulton Sheen, The Priest Is Not His Own
ATC Publications, 1963 [A profound and inspiring reflection on the priest as an “alter Christus”]

Francis P Friedl and Rex Reynolds, Extraordinary Lives: Thirty-four Priests Tell Their Stories
[Short, simple, inspiring testimonies from a wide selection of priests with very different experiences – all of them still devoted to their priesthood]

Roderick Strange, The Risk of Discipleship
Darton, Longman & Todd, 2004 [A theology of priesthood, together with reflections on what is happening to priesthood in the world today]

Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis
Catholic Truth Society, 1992 [Pope John Paul’s most important writing on the priesthood and on priestly formation. Full of rich theology]

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Ministers of Your Joy
St Paul’s Publications, 1992 [Reflections by the Holy Father on the mystery of the priesthood]

Timothy M Dolan, Priests for the Third Millennium
Our Sunday Visitor, 2000 [Talks given to seminarians by a hard-hitting rector, now a Cardinal in the States. Pithy, rich, and full of stories and anecdotes]

Andrew Robinson, Tears at Night, Joy at Dawn: Journal of a Dying Seminarian
Alive Publishing, 2003 [Moving account of the final months of a seminarian’s life as he comes to terms with cancer and comes to an ever-deeper appreciation of the gift of the priesthood]

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Missioners
[A collection of homilies given by the Archbishop at priestly and diaconal ordinations]

Benedict J Groeschel, From Scandal to Hope
[Co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. An analysis of difficulties confronting the Church in the West, but which contains a strong vision of the heart of the priesthood]

Matthew Levering (Editor), On the Priesthood: Classic and Contemporary Texts
[Writings about the priesthood from the early saints to John Paul II]

Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests: Presbyterorum Ordinis
[This is the main text from the Council about the priesthood. It can be found in a collection of documents: Austin Flannery (Editor), Vatican Council II]

Fr. Columba Marmion Christ: The Ideal of the Priest
[The great spiritual writer, Fr. Columba Marmion, wrote this classic work on the priesthood to show the holiness that priests are called to, and how that holiness can only be attained through close union with, and imitation of, Jesus Christ. While aimed at the clergy, this profound spiritual work will also be of immense inspiration for all in coming to a deeper understanding of the true nature and calling of the priesthood.]

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. The Priest in Union with Christ
[The famous early 20th century Thomistic theologian Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., reflects on the specific holiness of the priesthood and the supernatural fruitfulness of the priestly apostolate. Steeped in Sacred Scripture, St. Thomas Aquinas and other traditional Catholic sources, the author presents the classic Catholic traditions on the priestly vocation which today’s generation today may have never even heard of.]

Another great source of inspiration is to read the lives of the saints, especially the priest-saints! There are too many to list here. Find a biography of a particular saint that you love; or find one of the many collections of short ‘lives of the saints’ that are available.


If you want to browse in a Catholic bookshop, three good ones in central London are:

  • St Pauls by Westminster Cathedral [just on the right of Westminster Cathedral] Morpeth Terrace, Victoria, London SW1P 1E

  • Pauline Books and Multimedia 199 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 6BA