What is the Priesthood like? How old do you have to be to be a Priest? Is it hard to live as a Priest?
* It is true the priest does not have a biological family of his own: a wife and their children. Instead, a priest is invited into the families of each of his parishioners and he treats them as his own family while they treat him as part of their family. Imagine what it would be like to always have a 3 year old, a 13 year old and always having your children getting married and having children. That is the way for the priest. As amazing and awesome that is, it is even more amazing that the Lord Jesus Christ asks the priest to change bread and wine into His body and blood so Jesus through the priest can continue to nourish his people. Do you like going to sporting events or concerts? That feeling you get “being there” is only a slight hint of what it will be like to be in Heaven. The Eucharist is what sustains us until we arrive at the banquet prepared for us in Heaven. Knowing we are that close to the Lord and chosen by him, is unexplainable and awesome. I pray one day some of you may experience this great joy of the priesthood.
* You have to be 26 years old to be a priest. If you are younger, the bishop can make it so you can be ordained at 24 or 25. Or, younger if there is a special circumstance. But, the normal age is 26.
* When a priest is ordained, part of the ritual says that we are to live as Christ lived, imitating his life, especially his life on the cross. So, the Church expects that there will be parts of the priesthood for each priest that will be difficult. That does not mean God is not calling us to priesthood; He agrees it will be difficult, but his grace is enough to sustain us through those difficult times. Even in the midst of difficulty, with Christ, we can be joyful. Is it difficult going through the basic training of the Marines? Is it difficult doing two-a-day practices in football? Yes, but the reason these men go through with these difficulties is because they know the rewards will be worth the effort. Being a Marine to serve or being a football player to achieve an earthly prize is a very tiny piece of the rewards a priest is trying to gain for everyone he meets: eternal life with Christ in Heaven as his people grow in relationship with Christ here on Earth.
What is a Priest’s daily life like? What is the hardest thing to do about becoming a Priest?
* I believe junior high students want a concrete answer saying this is the time we get up in the morning, then give a list of times with events that we are doing for each time of the day. But, that is not how the daily life of a priest works. Each person is called to the priesthood; it is the person who shapes their priesthood. To be a good and effective holy priest, these things must find a way into every priest’s daily schedule: prayer time (mass, personal prayer time, and other prayers he offers for the church) office work (making sure all parts of the parish are operating and working well.) Direct ministry to people (Direct means you are with people doing something with or for them; some would rightly say that office work is ministry, which is why I call this section “Direct” ministry.) Recreation. (What ever you do to relieve stress or like to do to have some fun; priests can do that too and should take some time each day to do something relaxing. It will be different for each priest, each person.) Flexibility: When your schedule is set for the day, the priest has to be prepared for everything to change that day with one phone call.
* Hardest part about “becoming” a priest: It depends on the person becoming a priest. Some would say “accepting God really is calling me to a chaste celibate lifestyle.” — Relax, there is lots to say about this topic if one would trust God enough to simply enter seminary and let those in charge teach about the topic. Others would say they are never going to “not be a priest.” A priest is always a priest and needs to be one even on his day off. Some would say the hours we put into ministry; others that they have to preach. For any one of these answers you pick, many other priests will say, “no, that is not so bad.” so, it depends on the priest you ask. For me, the struggles I had to overcome while in seminary were 1) celibacy; 2) surrendering to God’s will (I had the attitude, “this is what I am going to do God, and you better be ok with it and if not, too bad I am still going to do it.”) It took me a while to trust that God’s plan always is better.
Is priesthood fun?
Every priest finds part of their priesthood fun. Which part he finds fun depends on the priest. What do you like to do for fun and how do you have fun while serving others? You can do what you like to do and can serve others in that way by being a priest. For me, I like going to dinner with others. I like a deep moving conversation that gets another to think more deeply. And, honestly, I am a very visible priest in the diocese, so when I am at a sporting event or at the grocery store or at Wal-Mart and it takes a while for me to do what I came to do because so many people stop to talk, that is fun. When I am with the 6th Graders at 6th Grade vocation day and they all know me, that is cool. Unfortunately because there are several hundred of them coming from over 37 places in the diocese, I can’t call each one by name.
How many years does it usually take to be transitioned to a new parish as a Priest?
The rule is, in the first year of your assignment at a new parish, get to know the people and do not make many changes because everyone is in transition: the people getting to know you and the priest getting to know how things are done and getting to know the people. The second year people want to know what changes you will be making, and you begin to make them. By the beginning of your third year, you should feel transitioned and comfortable and at home in your parish.
If you are a priest, could you travel the world? Could you own your own land?
* If the person who is a priest wants to travel the world, it is very possible (and I do; along with many other priests I know.) However, if he does not want to travel, he can make that clear and it is very possible he will not have to travel a great deal. Every priest will have to travel throughout the diocese and a lot within the parish in which he is assigned. If one feels called to priesthood but does not want to travel at all, he may want to consider a cloistered monastery where they do not travel at all.
* Yes, you can own your own land as a diocesan priest.
Can you be a Priest if you are married?
No. To answer this question, we need to look at the definition of “Vocation”, then look at the purpose of the vocation of marriage. Once we do these two things, we can answer why priests and sisters are not married.
First, Vocation is a calling from God; it is His way of calling us into relationship with him. Long before we were born, the Lord knew He wanted a relationship with us and what that relationship should look like. At our baptism, He tells the Church that He wants a relationship with us and what that relationship should look like.
Second, the relationship He wants for most of his children is for two people (one man and one woman) to fall in love and marry. The purpose of that marriage is to bring more children into the world while the husband and wife help each other grow in their relationship with Christ, keeping Christ in the center of their lives, marriage, and family. The spouse should be asking, “How do I best serve my spouse today? How do I share my all/my love with my spouse?” And, most importantly, “How do I bring the Kingdom of Heaven closer to my spouse as I help my spouse gain eternal life in Heaven?” God calls some boys to priesthood and some girls to religious life at their baptisms.
Now, to answer your question: Priests are married to the Church; not to the building, but to the “mystical body of Christ.” That means, you are part of the priest’s family. The priest, like Jesus, reminds us, this life is about getting to heaven and making this world more like heaven. We, priests are the visible reminder not to get caught up in all that happens in this world. Everyone is to be involved in the things of this world to try and change it to be better — but don’t worry; your happiness and reward is in heaven with God. The sisters are the bride of Christ; her spiritual presence is to also help us remember not to get caught up in the things of this world, but to bring people closer to Heaven and Heaven closer to the people. So, in all three vocations, the thing to remember is that the vocation is about the other and getting the other to heaven. The first time Adam and Eve asked the question, “what am I going to get out of this?” was when they realized they had sinned. It’s not “What am I going to get?” It is, “What am I going to give?” Fear not, you will not outdo God in generosity!
An exception: If you mean what happened to Fr. Jones our President at Helias Catholic High School, then I can answer that question because it is the only way it can happen. He is still husband to his wife and father to his children. He was able to do this because he was born, baptized and raised in another religion and became a priest for that religion. Because God wants all of us Christian denominations to come together in community as one, God allows Fr. Jones and people in his situation to convert to the Catholic Faith and then discern (decide in the midst of prayer)if God is also calling him to the priesthood. Through Fr. Jones, God
shows us the importance of all becoming one again while living as a married priest with children. A Baptized Catholic cannot leave the Catholic faith, join another denomination, get married, become a priest/pastor/preacher/minister of that denomination, come back to the Catholic Church and then become a priest. Everything in that scenario is possible, except “then become a priest.” Baptized Roman Catholics are celibate priests.
Can a woman be a priest?
The definition of a priest is essentially a mediator between God and his people, especially one who offers sacrifice and intercedes for the people. Everyone who is baptized has a share in the priesthood of Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:9). This means that every baptized person can offer their own life as a sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), pray for others, etc. So, women like men, have a priestly role because of baptism. This kind of priesthood is called the “common priesthood of the baptized” or sometimes the “internal priesthood.” But, God also chooses certain men for the “ministerial priesthood,” also called the “external priesthood.” This is a different kind of priesthood, where a man not only offers his own life as a sacrifice to God (which we are all called to do), but is configured to Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church so that he can offer sacrifice publicly on behalf of the whole Church (Mass) while standing in the place of Christ himself, forgive sins (Confession), teach in the name of Christ, and serve as a spiritual father.
In the Bible, priesthood is always associated with fatherhood (e.g., Judges 17:10). God has chosen to reserve the ministerial priesthood to men only (both in the Old Testament and in the New) because of the important symbolism involved. A priest is not just a preacher or leader. The priest is a spiritual father, a representative of God (the Bridegroom) to his Church (the Bride). The Catholic Church considers herself bound by God’s choice to reserve the ministerial priesthood to men only, and for this reason the Catholic Church holds definitively that she has received no authority from Jesus to ordain women as priests.
Men and women show forth different aspects of the image of God, equal in dignity but distinct and complementary. Women have roles in the Church that must be emphasized and which men cannot fulfill (e.g., the role of mother, of consecrated Virgin, of woman religious), and men have some roles that women cannot fulfill. This is because the symbolism itself of being a man or being a woman is so important; the roles are not just about doing certain tasks. And, we should never forget that the priesthood is a gift. Men don’t deserve it any more than women do, but God calls some men to this identity, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the rest of the Church.
How is the Priesthood rewarding?
You know that feeling you get when your team wins the Super bowl or World Series? Imagine now, you are the MVP of the team who won. Ok, that is for an award of human and earthly status. By cooperating with God (I guess you could say our “heavenly coach”) We literally win souls for God in heaven! Anointing someone at their death bed then being there to console the family? Hard? Absolutely, but what an honor and graced moment. That person is on their way to heaven and God’ is wrapping his arms around those who are grieving. I am helping someone overcome doubt and fear and confusion by helping them see the Truth of Jesus Christ. Paralysis of the soul is over and new life begins! Reconciliation? Sins forgiven and they are no longer weighed down with heavy guilt, shame and burdens. People asking us Catholics if we have a personal relationship with Christ: being the one used by God so the Catholic can say, “personal enough I receive Him and become more like him every time I receive Eucharist!” It is rewarding in so many ways it is hard to describe all of them… Mostly, that I am doing what the Lord called me to do and I am the person God called me to be. I gave my life in certainty of it.
The Priest is married to Jesus, isn’t that homosexuality?
The Priest is married to the Church and stands in the person of Jesus Christ. In scripture and tradition the Church is referred to as the Bride and Jesus the Bridegroom (groom) The groom laid down his life for his bride — Jesus laid down his life for his church. So, the priest lays down his life for his church.
Husbands and wives give life to biological children.
Priests and the Church give spiritual life to those biological life in the sacraments
God is involved in both of these ways in which life is given because He is the author of all life.
What are your responsibilities as a Priest?
There are three offices that each priest holds: The office of teaching, the office of sanctifying and the office of governing. The office of teaching is to teach the world of the Love of God; God loved us so much, He sent his only son into the world to become one like us in all ways but sin. He showed us how to be truly human, how to love the Father, each other and ourselves. He died for our sins, rose from the dead, so that we might have ever lasting life, ascended into Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Church and gave us a Church that cannot be wrong on the areas of faith and morals since the Holy Spirit guides this same church. Everything we teach comes back to this basic teaching. The Office of sanctifying means we give the sacraments to the people of God, when the people want them and when the people do not want them; we are still to offer the sacraments. God speaks and acts directly with his people through the sacraments. Office of Governing: we, as priests, are responsible for the gift of the church given to us as we become priests, as we are priests, and to do our best to make sure we do all we can to make sure the church is still around for generations that come after us. That means things like paying bills, doing construction, building churches, hiring helpers, training volunteers, etc.
How important is prayer to a Priest?
I have always said, “I think I can make it about ten minutes as a priest if I give up my prayer life.” Basically, there is no priesthood without prayer. The priest has given up on the one relationship that will be constant and sustain him; his relationship with Jesus Christ.
Why do Priests dress in black?
There are many answers to this, but I will give this one: Black was the cheapest color of fabric when fabric was first made. So, to remind us of our simplicity of life, we dress in what was once the most inexpensive fabric. Secondly, the color “black” represents “death.” As priests, we don’t live for all this world has to offer; we live for what the next world HEAVEN is all about. We as priests say “we are dead to this world.” We participate in all the activities and we are in the world. But, we know it is all passing away and that it is all supposed to lead us to the next world, Heaven. It is supposed to help people not to stress out too much about al the things happening in this world. All of us baptized are to do our best and lead everyone to heaven; that’s the message the priest is trying to tell people.
Can Priests have two jobs?
A priest can have more than one ministry that the Bishop assigns him to do or asks him to do. So, a priest can be pastor of more than one parish; each parish is a different job, though we call these “jobs” ministries. He can be pastor of more than one place and celebrate Mass and help the Hispanic Community in a third parish. He can have a parish (or more than one) and serve as a chaplain to a group. Religious Order and some diocesan priests are qualified to have the professions others have: trained to be a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, sociologist, author, etc. but they are doing these things within their priesthood. If you mean, can he be a priest and also work at Casey’s General Store or at Wal-Mart as a greeter, then no. He cannot do that as a second job. There is an exception to this: it is possible that some day this country may make it illegal to be a priest. (I only say that because it has happened in other countries’ histories.) The Roman Catholic Church cannot obey that law, so there will still be priests, but they will have other jobs to keep their cover while also being a priest. But, as long as it is legal to be a priest, we do not hold any jobs outside of ministry.
As a priest how is your relationship with God different from those in other vocations?
We are all called to holiness. Holiness is cooperating with God’s graces to grow in your relationship with God. So, each and everyone of us who is baptized is called to be in relationship with God and I know there are married people and single people who are holier than I am. But, that said, there are two ways in which our relationship with God differs from those not ordained: At Mass, the priest presides over (leads) the assembly; the assembly participates. It is a different relationship with God to lead over the mass than it is to participate in the Mass. Second, being a priest means that we are the visible reminder of the community that all of us are to work together with God’s graces to bring people closer to God and Heaven as we bring heaven closer to earth. Being that visible reminder is a different relationship with God than observing the visible reminder and then doing what is asked of me.