What happens when you realise you may be called to the priesthood or religious life? Here are some of the fascinating stories from those who decided to give their entire life to the service of God and His Church.

"I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on the journey that has brought me to the brink of my diaconate ordination. Since the first discussion with my parish priest as a teenager I have revisited my calling several times, every time getting closer until – just when I thought everything was settled in my life – it was an undeniable fact that the time was right to follow the call that I had from God. The call is not an easy thing to follow. It meant leaving a comfortable job, my friends, family and home, but making that leap of faith is the most rewarding experience of my life. For those who are thinking about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Take your time to explore it. Pray on it, speak to people you trust about it, be patient, but most of all spend time with God. He will show you the way." Bobby Taylor, seminarian for Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (Number 1 in main picture) 

"I was attracted to the religious life from the age of 14, but all I knew was that I wanted to give my life to God. The form my life was to take began to take shape when I was 20, and I read Evangelium Vitae. Centred on John 10:10, ‘I have come that they might have life, life in abundance’, those words, so familiar, struck a new chord in me. I remember thinking as I sat there of all those around us who live lives at half-mast because of fear, shame, sadness, guilt, regret, addiction… and in that moment I longed to give them all a sense of the incredibly beautiful life God intended for them. That idea, planted in my soul by God, never left me. So here's the thing: He made you for Himself, and He has a perfect plan for you alone – be open, generous and courageous, and true happiness will be yours." Sister Andrea Fraile, Sisters of the Gospel of Life, Glasgow (2)

"I felt the Lord’s call at the tomb of St Paul, while I was on pilgrimage in Rome with other young people. During Mass, I heard the Lord say in my heart: ‘Karin, you are mine!’. At first I did not know what to do with this. A short time after that, when I met Mother Julia, our foundress, I knew that the Lord was calling me to the religious life in the Spiritual Family The Work. After praying and speaking with a Sister and a Priest, I said my ‘Yes’ to the Lord. I entered and I have been very happy in my vocation! If you think that the Lord might be calling you, pray about it, receive the Sacraments, do not hesitate to ask advice, and know that the Lord wants your happiness! As Saint Pope John Paul II said: ‘Do not be afraid’!" Sister Karin Hugens FSO, Spiritual Family The Work, Edinburgh (3)

"When I was 21 years old, I came to realise that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. I moved to Rome to learn about the faith, and I was received into the Catholic Church later that year. A few months later, a priest I knew encouraged me to go and visit some Sisters and join them for Holy Hour and dinner. When I met the Sisters, it felt like I had finally come home. If you think God might be calling you to give Him all your life – be courageous and active! Seek Him in times of prayer and, when you think you know where He is leading you, take the step! The novitiate (or seminary) is a time of discernment, no one is absolutely sure when they enter. It takes faith, but is a beautiful life. And you can only come to know it by living it." Sister Mary Simone RSM, Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Edinburgh (4)

"I was born in a traditional Catholic family in Kerala, India. My greatest inspiration and teachers in Christian life were my grandparents and parents. They used to tell stories of saints and from a very young age we had to participate in family prayer. Such an upbringing instilled in me a desire to be a priest from childhood. The first invitation to become a Franciscan Friar and priest came from a friend of my grandfather, Fr Alphonse OFMCap. He gave me biographies of St Francis of Assisi and other literature on Franciscan life. I was greatly attracted and impressed by the simplicity and holiness of Francis and joined the Franciscan Order after my schooling. While in seminary there were moments of uncertainty and confusion. These led to a deeper and more serious reflection on my vocation and consequently evolved into personal conviction that 'I can with the Lord'. Father Thomas Prince Mathew, OFMCap (Friars Minor Capuchin), Parish of St Teresa of Lisieux, Edinburgh (5)

"I had been pretty lukewarm in my faith for several years. Then I began to feel restless, and to think things like: ‘There must be more to life than this!’ And my thoughts kept coming back to God. I wished I knew how to come closer to Him. I didn’t realise then that it was because God was calling me. Our Saint John of the Cross says: ‘If the soul is searching for God, much, much more is God searching for the soul.’ The love of God is so precious. If you think He’s calling you, try and respond; pray, search, listen, try to do what He’s telling you. A vocation is very demanding – so is marriage! - but you’ll never regret saying yes to God." Sister Teresa of the Holy Child, Discalced Carmelites, Dysart, Fife (6)

"At the age of 23 I finally gave in to a call which I had felt from late teenage years. Having enjoyed a varied life since leaving school, first of all to be with my mother who was ill, we were running a small business together in Bathgate, a sweet shop and later we added a coffee shop.  My mother was a great support to me during that time and when God called her to Himself I continued running this business, at the same time as looking after my father and brother at home. In between times I loved catching up with my friends on outings - dancing, films, theatre etc. I also had a boyfriend and the future looked rosy. We were both very committed to our religion without being fanatical and one day he told me that I would make a lovely nun! This did not please me but it made me think. Soon afterwards I was at a school reunion and met up with a nun whom I had known years before. She thought I would have been married by this time. However, she asked me if I had considered the Religious Life. I had, and from that day everything fell into place. I have now been a Religious of the Sacred Heart for 57 years and have had the most interesting and fulfilling life, filled with joy and happiness wherever I have been sent, meeting and sharing with so many wonderful people from all walks of life. It’s my way of helping to make known the love of the Heart of Jesus and bring happiness to the world." Sister Jean Lawson RSCJ, Society of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh

To find out more about vocations in our Archdiocese, contact: Father Andrew Garden, Vocations Director 0131 663 4286, vocations@staned.org.uk or Sister Mirjam Hugens, Director for Religious Vocations 0131 623 8902, religiousvocations@staned.org.uk