Predictive Factors for Commitment to the Priestly Vocation: A Study of Priests and Seminarians
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
De St. Aubin, Ed
The present study examined factors for priestly commitment and the relationship between priestly commitment and well-being of Catholic priests and seminarians. While evidence for the effectiveness of assessment in identifying the suitability of applicants to the priesthood and evaluating the general psychological health of priests and seminarians has been well documented, the effectiveness of assessment in predicting commitment to the priesthood remains under question. This study addressed such an issue by identifying the individual and sets of factors for priestly commitment using a sample of 120 priests and 52 seminarians. Through Hierarchical Multiple Regression analyses, the present study examined the extent to which demographic factors (e.g., age and vocational status), social factors (e.g., parental environment, family religiosity, and religious experience), psychological factors (e.g., big five personality traits, defensiveness, gender characteristics, and loneliness), and religious factors (e.g., religious orientation, religious coping, spiritual support, sacred view of the priesthood, and relationship with bishop/superior) affect priestly commitment. And, through Multiple Regression, this study examined a correlation between priestly commitment and well-being. The results indicated that, when demographic, social, and psychological variables were controlled, an increased level of agreeableness, defensiveness, masculinity, intrinsic religious orientation, sacred view of the priesthood, and relationship with bishop/superior were associated with an increased level of affective commitment, whereas the increased level of parental care, extraversion, and loneliness were associated with a decreased level of affective commitment. Parental overprotection, extraversion, and loneliness positively correlated with thought of leaving the priesthood, whereas masculinity, sacred view of the priesthood, and relationship with bishop/superior had negative correlations. Extrinsic religious orientation had a positive correlation with continuance commitment. In contrast to the previous studies, demographic variables were insignificant. The study also found indirect effects of religious variables on the significant correlations between parental care and affective commitment and between agreeableness and affective commitment. Specific to well-being, this study found that affective commitment was positively correlated with affect balance, psychological well-being, and religious well-being, while continuance commitment and thought of leaving the priesthood had negative correlations with psychological well-being. Finally, thought of leaving the priesthood was correlated negatively with affect balance.