Vocations at the Diocese of Youngstown

God continues to call men and women of all walks of life to accept His invitation to lovingly serve the Church and His people in many different ways. Following God’s call to holiness is called discernment, when you take your life’s choices to God in prayer and to the community for insight. The Office of Church Vocations supports the process of discernment on entering a life of service to the Church and community. 

The Catholic Church has four primary types of vocations: priesthood, religious life, marriage, and single life. The Diocese of Youngstown offers formation for the following vocations within the Church:



The life of a priest is busy, demanding, challenging—and incredibly rewarding. Individual priests have a wide variety of tasks within the church. In addition to administering the sacraments and leading prayer, there are many specialized ministries such as being a chaplain or working in diocesan offices. A majority of priests serve in parishes, building relationships with their parishioners and the community they serve.  

Teach: Priests instruct others about the faith.

Shepherd: Priests guide, unite, and encourage the faithful.

Sanctify: Priests administer the sacraments and encourage holiness.

If you are considering a vocation to the priesthood, contact the Office of Church Vocations to learn more about the process of discernment and entering the seminary.

Permanent Diaconate

Permanent Deacons are committed men over 35 years-old who demonstrate service in the self-giving love of Christ. Permanent Deacons undergo a process of formation before ordination into the three-fold ministry of Word, Liturgy and Charity. The Office of the Permanent Diaconate supports their active involvement in community, outreach to the poor and the marginalized, and work towards the Eucharistic communion of the Church. To learn more about this important ministry within the life of the Church, please contact the Office of the Permanent Diaconate.

Vowed Religious

Consecrated Life is to mirror Christ’s way of life, which is a rich manifestation of Gospel values. It is a lifestyle to which one freely responds to the call of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ with an undivided heart by leaving everything behind (Vita Consecrata#1). To join a Religious Order, sisters or brothers must take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, thus dedicating their entire life to God’s service. 

There are many religious communities for men and women, and each has a different mission and charism (gift of the Holy Spirit). Finding the community to which God has called you, that is the one that fits your gifts and talents may take time, research and prayer. Feel free to contact the Office of Church Vocations to learn more about the various religious communities serving in the Youngstown Diocese.


The ultimate purpose of Christian Marriage is to assist one another on the journey of life and help one another get to heaven. The marriage preparation process is designed to strengthen your love for one another and invite you to fully embrace the joy of the Gospel through the vocation of marriage. May you always see yourselves as God’s dear children and thank Him for giving you the gift of each other.

The Church asks that you take 6+ months to prepare for your life-long marriage together by meeting with a priest or deacon and other formation opportunities. Catholics should be confirmed before marriage if at all possible. These months leading up to your wedding should be a time to grow in holiness and deepen your relationship with God and one another.  

The Department of Canonical Services develops the guidelines for marriage preparation and coordinates marriage formation opportunities in the Diocese. To begin the process, contact your local parish to schedule an initial meeting with a priest or deacon at least six months before you plan to wed.

Lay Ecclesial Ministry

​​The term lay ecclesial ministry reflects certain key realities. Lay ecclesial ministry is service done by lay persons (women and men), ecclesial because it has a place within the community of the Church, and ministry because it participates in the ministry of Christ to continue his mission in the world.

Lay ecclesial ministry is characterized by: (1) Authorization of the hierarchy to serve publicly in the local church leadership in a particular area of ministry. (2) Close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons. (3) Preparation and formation appropriate to the level of responsibilities that are assigned to them. ​”Lay ecclesial minister” is not itself a specific position title. 

The Office of Faith Formation & Lay Ecclesial Ministry provides resources, consultation, networking for catechists, recruitment, and oversight for lay ecclesial ministers in all areas of parish life. 


Pastoral Internship Year

Bishop Bonnar has assigned Mr. Arthur Bodenschatz to a pastoral internship year beginning June 2024 with Rev. Chad Johnson, Pastor of St. Jude (Columbiana) and Our Lady of Lourdes (East Palestine).

Learn More



Rev. Chad Johnson, Director of Church Vocations

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