The perceived impact of life events and developmental transitions on the decision to become a priest at mid-life

John F. Helminski (1991)

Previous research has demonstrated that men frequently undergo a variety of changes and transitions during the middle aged developmental period that affect their future life structure. This pilot study, through the use of intensive interviews and biographical data, investigated the perceived impact of events and transitions on the decisions of men to become Roman Catholic priests at mid-life. The study also explored whether the participants perceived themselves as having a mid-life crisis or an increase in religiosity at mid-life that affected vocational choice. Finally, the work investigated whether the participants had a past desire for the priesthood that again became prominent at mid-life. The results demonstrated that a relationship existed between career and religious transitions, that mid-life crises were not commonly experienced, and that a significant number of men first had a desire to become a priest during their childhood. Clinical implications for middle aged men entering the priesthood were discussed, as well as suggestions for future research.