IT is a question the young seminarians at the Irish College are frequently asked – why choose the life of a priest?
Amid the concerns over a crisis of vocations resulting in an ageing population of Irish priests, the rector of the Irish College, Monsignor Ciaran Carroll, said there were currently 12 seminarians from Ireland studying for the priesthood in the 400-year-old college.
For him, he felt he was responding to "a call".
"All of us in some way have experienced this call and this encounter with Christ, and experienced great joy and happiness that comes from that, and the desire not to keep it to ourselves but to share it with others," he said.
Francis Hand (21), from Co Louth, said he felt it was "particularly tragic" that a lot of the young generation in Ireland do not get the chance to see the true and beautiful message of the church "behind all the horror and the scandal and the nastiness".
Boyle said that with "everything that was going on", his family did initially feel a certain "amount of anxiety" when he told them he was planning to become a priest.
"But over the years they have come to understand it somewhat more and they are certainly very supportive and encouraging along the way."
"I joined at 18 but I wanted to since I was 10," said Hand, adding that he felt they were "here for people".
He said his family felt it was "great" but did not pressure him and said it was his choice.