A new book demonstrates that the vast majority of priests are happy in their vocation and find their lives fulfilling. The Joy of Priesthood (Ave Maria Press, $15.95) is by author and licensed psychologist Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti.
Survey results before, during, and after the sexual abuse crisis began in 2002 consistently show priests are happy in their work.
In his own survey of 1,286 priests, taken between September 2003 and April 2005, Fr. Rossetti found that 80.2 percent agreed with the statement: "My morale is good."
When presented with the statement, "Overall, I am happy as a priest," 90.2 percent agreed, and more than 90 percent said they would do it all over again if given the choice of entering the priesthood.
On the other hand, while the vast majority of priests feel that their personal morale is high, they are concerned about their brethren. Only 38 percent agreed with the statement, "Morale in the priesthood is good today."
The greatest concern for priests today is their heavy workloads, Fr. Rossetti the Ohio Bladw. Many are stretched thin as they serve one large or several small parishes, often being the only priest in the parish.
"The life of a priest witnesses to the fact that there are more important values in life than genital sex and money," he said. "There's forgiveness, friendship, compassion ... those are the kinds of eternal values that all of us need. You can live without genital sex, but you cannot live without love."
Fr. Rossetti has been counseling priests for 16 years at the Saint Luke Institute, a residential treatment center in Silver Spring, Md., where he serves as president and chief executive officer.