What is Priesthood ?
The priesthood is a call from Christ to live a relationship with Him by serving His people.
Not content to leave his people with simply the memory of his redeeming love, Christ chose certain of his followers (the apostles) to continue his work on earth until the end of time. The priesthood is an extension of this, and is hence a continuation of the work of Christ in the world today.
While the whole Church is a priestly people, sharing in the priesthood of Christ by their daily sacrifices, prayers and spreading of the Gospel, God calls specific people to serve in his name in the midst of the community. These people are priests.
The priesthood is a life of sacrifice and a life of service because it is the life of Christ. Yet where there is love, sacrifice is possible. In addition to administering the sacraments, a priest may be given one of a number of apostolic and charitable assignments.
A Day in the Life of a Priest
What a priest, brother or sister does with his or her day is so varied and complex that only a sampling can be given here. Prayer, work and leisure are all necessary for a healthy life. We try to make sure we have a balance of all these, but we don't always succeed.
In the area of work or ministry, many of us have one main occupation, such as teaching, parish ministry, social work, or hospital work, all of which have somewhat regular hours and predictable demands.
The unpredictables are also interesting and challenging. They center around meeting the needs of people: the sick, old, angry, hurt, hungry, imprisoned, excited, happy. We share with them our understanding, encouragement and support. We rejoice, cry, feel with them.
Those of us who are contemplatives spend our day at prayer and some kind of labor to sustain us.
Questions You May Have About Priesthood
Do you get time off, and what do you do in that time?
We have approximately the same amount of leisure time as most adults. In this time, we are free to do whatever is legal, moral and reasonable for adults in our situation. Obviously, because priests, brothers and sisters are unique individuals, we won't all choose the same types of recreation, and none of us chooses the same activity every time. Some of the more common choices are sports, movies, TV, reading, sharing with friends and enjoying the outdoors.
What is the difference between a diocesan priest and a religious priest?
A diocesan priest ordinarily serves the church within a well-defined area (a diocese). He serves the people as a parish priest, but may also be involved in other forms of ministry: teaching, chaplain in hospitals, prisons, campus ministry, etc. A religious priest, on the other hand, is a member of a community which goes beyond the geographical limits of any diocese.
A religious priest seeks to live a vowed life within a community of men for mutual support and accomplishment of some work. There is an emphasis in the community on shared ideals, prayer and commitment to Christ. Religious priests work in a wide variety of ministries.
What vows do diocesan priests make?
Diocesan priests make no vows. For ordination, they freely make promises of celibacy and obedience to their bishop.
- Brings new members into Christ’s Body -- the Church -- through Baptism
- Hears Confessions
- Offers Mass daily and preaches the Gospel
- Assists in feeding the poor in his neighborhood
- Provides spiritual direction
- Prays the Liturgy of the Hours and private prayers
- Witnesses marriages · Gives marriage counseling
- Provides prenuptial counseling
- Teaches catechism
- Prepares the youth of the parish to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation
- Listens to someone going through a difficult time and gives counsel
- Visits and anoints the sick and shut-ins at hospitals and nursing homes
- Performs funerals and buries the dead
A diocesan priest is primarily a parish priest, but he can also be assigned full-time to a specific ministry in the life of the Church. Some priests may completely dedicate themselves to teaching, others to work in prisons and others to serving as hospital chaplains or college chaplains.
Many people think that once a man enters the seminary, that decision is final. But that is not the case. Discernment continues as he begins preparation for the priesthood. During this time a man enters into deeper prayer to consider if this is the vocation that God is calling him to.
A vocation to the priesthood is countercultural. First of all, it is a response to the love of God in one’s life. Further, it is a life of self-sacrifice that is aimed to restore and recover a love of God in the world. The signs in a man that indicate a possible vocation to the priesthood include the following:
· Love of God – You want to know and love and serve God wholeheartedly.
· Love of neighbor – You desire to bring God’s love and grace to the world for the salvation of souls.
· Attracted to the priesthood – Over time you develop an interior attraction to the priesthood. There is a certain sense of joy and peace when you contemplate yourself living as a priest.
· A willingness to serve the Lord as His priest – The willingness to be a priest is already an excellent sign that the Lord wants you to be a priest.
· A generous heart and a willingness to sacrifice.
· Human Requirements – You are physically, intellectually, and psychologically capable of living the priestly life.
If you are experiencing these things, there is a possibility that Christ is calling you to the priesthood. The Vocation Office (make this an active link) will be happy to answer any questions about the priesthood and to help you discern.