The Church As A Second Career

At the age of 37, Edward Benioff has just started a second career, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

"I love being a priest!" he said. "I've been a priest nine months - and I love it!"

Before he got into this line of work he was a school teacher.

Paul Arnoult is on his second career too. He was 42 years old when he became a priest after working 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry.

"I had a great job, wonderful company, fantastic people, best boss I've ever had," Arnoult said. "But, um, something was just kind of missing as I went along."

Considering the church as a second career has become more common in the past decade or so. And with a shortage of priests, the Catholic church is welcoming those who didn't get the calling as younger men.

"The call came when the call came, you know," Arnoult said. "I wouldn't have been listening, I wouldn't have been ready, no way at 25."

In the 1960s, the average age for priests at ordination was 28. Today it has climbed to 37.

"We have a little more wear on us, and we can relate with, again, the ups and downs of life to people," Benioff said.

The recruitment of priests has gone high-tech … with a Web site vocationmatch.com, where many looking for a career change are middle aged.

Not a surprise say Patrice Touhy of Vocationmatch.com.

"You realize that your life is half over, and what really have you done with it?" she said.

The job of finding new candidates for the priesthood in Northern California belongs to Father Tom Daly - a task he was given just as the church sex abuse scandal was unfolding.

"One of my former teachers said, 'being vocation director at this time - isn't that like being an Army recruiter during the height of Veitnam?'" Daly said.

Helping in a crisis was part of what brought Paul Arnoult to the priesthood.

"God opened doors and it worked out," Arnoult said.

The church was in need and he had reached a time in life when he was ready to serve.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.