Recommended Books

Recommended Books

Books on Discernment:

To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood

by Fr. Brett Brennan
Vianney Vocations, 2010

“Fr. Brannen has given a tool that so many young men have prayed for in their discernment.  When considering if whether or not God is calling you to the priesthood many men are scared and confused.  So many men have prayed “why can’t their be a book that just has all the answers!?”  To Save a Thousand Souls is the answer to that prayer!  Fr. Brannen takes a person step by step through what the signs are that you might be called, who to talk to, and even how to tell your friends and family.  This book would make an excellent gift to someone discerning.  It would also be a good tool for helping anyone understand what priesthood is and the difficulties of discernment.” – Eddy Warrant




Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within

by Thomas Dubay, S.M
St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002

Prayer Primer is written for adults who want God and a serious prayer life, but it does not presuppose that they need or have a theological background.  Fr. Dubay answers many questions on prayer.  Why pray?  Why vocal prayer is important and yet should be limited?  What contemplation is and is not.  How to pray with Scripture.  Prayer in a busy life.  Pitfalls and problems.  How do you even get started?  Where and how to begin?  Assessing progress.  Growing in depth.  All of these subjects, and more, are clearly and concisely explained for citizens of this 21st century.




Called by Name: Discovering Your Unique Purpose in Life

by Robert Furey
Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995

Typically, people think of a “calling” as the impetus to a religious vocation; Robert Furey challenges us to consider that each of us has a calling, unique to our personal strengths, gifts, and even weaknesses.  In his definition of a calling, spirituality, service and purpose are key: a calling is not just performing the task at which one is most skilled, but using one’s gifts to make the world a better place.  God calls each of us to contribute to the betterment of the world.  This book is inspiring and well-written, insightful and thought-provoking, especially if you are seeking meaning and purpose in your own life or exploring the nature of your own calling.


Be A Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be

by Fr. Larry Richards
Ignatius Press, October 2009

While some writers apply a one-size-fits-all approach to the Christian life, Father Richards draws on his many years of ministry and his own experience as a man to inspire other men as men.  In Be a Man!, he recounts his struggles to learn true manhood, as well as the inspiring stories of others he has served in his decades as a priest.  He tells men how to focus on the right goal, how to live as a beloved son of God, of the need to acknowledge one’s faults and to live according to the Holy Spirit, to be a man of true love and of wisdom, to appreciate properly the differences between men and women, to pursue holiness, and to make a difference in the world.  Not preachy but direct, Father Richards challenges men to be strong, without putting on a mask of false strength or machismo.  He calls men to admit their weaknesses and limitations, while urging them to find strength in faith and genuine love to overcome their sins and faults.


Priests for the Third Millennium

by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Our Sunday Visitor, 2000

This book is meant for readers who are interested in the subject of the Catholic priesthood.  It is not a “I can’t put it down” page-turner as it requires much thought and reflection to assimilate its insights.  The Chapters on Hope and Joy are the most insightful.  This book should be read by every priest and Bishop as well as all seminarians approaching ordination.


Pastores Dabo Vobis (I will give you Shepherds)

by Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was a very prolific writer.  Many of his reflections may help you in your discernment of God’s will in your life.  Click on the title to go directly to the Vatican website edition.


In Persona Christi: Reflections on Priestly Identity and Holiness

by Fr. Mark O’Keefe, O.S.B.
Saint Meinrad School of Theology, 1998

Fr. Mark O’Keefe stresses that by his ordination the priest is not simply a functionary (what does a priest do?) but rather the priest represents Christ and acts in the name of Christ (in answer to the question: what is the priest?)  The ordained priest is to model his life on the life of Christ, and to strive by his life to lead others to Christ.  Perhaps the thesis of this booklet can be summarized with this quotation of Pope John Paul II cited by Fr. Mark: “The priestly vocation is essentially a call to holiness, in the form which derives from the Sacrament of Orders.  Holiness is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, who was poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and a giving of oneself on their behalf and for their true good; it is love for the church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because this is the mission that Christ entrusted to her.  Each one of you should also be holy in order to help your brothers and sisters to pursue their vocation to holiness.”


A Priest Forever

by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
Our Sunday Visitor, March 1998

“I loved this book.  However, it would be a little difficult for the non-Catholic to understand with all the talk of feast days, rituals, etc. Father Eugene was a wonderful man who accomplished more in his 25 years than many accomplish in their lifetime.  I would encourage anyone who can handle a very sad story to read this book.  It will strengthen your faith incredibly!” – Holly Fairchild


Could You Ever be a Catholic Priest?

by Christopher J Duquin and Lorene Hanley Duquin
Alba House, November 1998

“I was very happy to finally find a book that could help me (and anyone else) discern the priesthood. The authors simply lay out the facts, supported by seminarians, priests, and laity, but never push you one way or the other. I found that this book helps you process the many questions swirling in your mind about discernment and come to your own conclusions. I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering religious vocation because it gives a wonderful chronology of what to expect of yourself and others throughout the entire process. This is a must read!!” – Anonymous review.


The Curé of Ars

by Francis Trochu
Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1955

“The Curé of Ars is the story of a heroic priest, St. John Vianney, who left his every desire behind to serve the Church, especially through hours upon hours sitting in the confessional bringing penitents the rich mercy of God.  He was holy, he was funny, he was strict, he was compassionate, he was incredible!  You might cry… your jaw might fall to the floor as you learn the amazing life of the patron saint of parish priests.  If you can’t manage the original work, which is almost 600 pages, you can find a shorter abridged version by the same author, a mere 200 pages.”


Extraordinary Lives

by Francis P. Friedl and Rex Reynolds
Ave Maria Press, 1998

In this book 34 different priests tell their stories and reflect on their lives as priests.


Virginity: A Positive Approach to Celibacy for Sake the of the Kingdom

by Raiero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
Alba House, 1995

“Obviously not all people are called to lifetime celibacy.  But for those who are, either through their own choosing or by God’s grace, this is a wonderful primer.  There is much more to celibacy than abstaining from sex.  Fr. Cantelamessa gives a deeply spiritual and yet completely practical treatment to the subject.”

“While virginity is often seen at best as a heroic sacrifice or at worst as something that must be endured, Fr. Cantalamessa approaches it from a much more positive position and deals extensively on the love and grace of such a life.  This is a wonderful work, and by it the reader will be able to see the love Cantalamessa has for the very sort of life he leads, and ultimately for God who has blessed Him with this life.” – a compilation of 2 reviews posted on Amazon


Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints

by Vincent J. O’Malley, C.M.
Our Sunday Visitor. 1999

We are often tempted to think of saints as rareified, barely human beings, who possess a sanctity well beyond our grasp.  However this book helps us to recall that exactly the opposite is true.  Saints are normal human beings who lived a wide array of lives as best they could, some of their stories involve great conversions, but for all of them sanctity was found in following Christ in everything they did whether it be being a heroic warrior, a monk, a housewife, or a college student.  The stories in this book thus all serve as mirrors for our own lives, to help us see where we are making excuses that keep from living better, holier lives and giving more fully of ourselves.