'A PRIEST IS A MAN WHO OFFERS HIS WHOLE HUMANITY TO GOD SO THAT GOD MIGHT USE HIM AS AN INSTRUMENT OF SALVATION.'
St. Pope John Paul II
All priesthood in the Church is based on the one true priest of the New Covenant – Jesus Christ.
It was Jesus as priest and victim who offered his life as a sacrifice on the cross.
All those who are called ‘priests’ in the Church are not priests in their own right;
they share in the unique priesthood of Christ.
They are called to be “alter Christus” – another Christ.
The overall mission of a priest is to stand in the presence of the local community as the “Icon of Christ”, serving their particular needs and proclaiming the Gospel. Those called to the priesthood are usually attracted to the vocation through a desire to serve the People of God in the local parish, especially in and through the Holy Eucharist and Sacraments.
What is a priest?
What does a priest do?
In general, a priest celebrates Mass each day, leads the community in prayer, administers the Sacraments, visits those in need, and provides for the spiritual, and temporal needs of the people. He is called to be God’s instrument in the world.
Why do we need them?
A priest offers the ministry of Jesus Christ to us today. When a priest offers the holy sacrifice of the Mass, it is Christ who offers the sacrifice. When a priest absolves sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is Christ who forgives. When a priest partakes in the mission of the Church to teach and evangelise, it is Christ who speaks through him. When a priest offers love, comfort and support to God’s people, Christ is truly present with them.
'The priest continues the work of redemption on earth ... the priest is the love of the heart of Jesus.'
St. Jean Vianney
How do you become a priest?
One of the best questions to ask ourselves when considering to take the next step is: “What is the next best step I can make right now to draw closer to the call God has for me?” Instead of asking the huge question: “Should I be a priest?”,
why not ask: “Should I talk to vocation promoter or director to see if God wants me to be a priest?”
The process of formation for the priesthood normally takes six to seven years, during which time
the seminarians live in a community of formation built around prayer and study.
What is seminary for? From a purely practical perspective, it’s comforting to know that if God calls you to be a priest, ordination is still years away. Seminary offers a period of intensive formation to help a man address his concerns,
grow in holiness, and prepare for an effective priestly ministry. No man enters seminary ready to be a priest!
Trust that God will direct you if you give Him permission
God is never outdone in generosity. If we take the next step, do it with an open and generous attitude to God's plan. God will not lead us down a road and then abandon us!
It can happen that once we have made the first step, we can have a sense of peace. If we say 'yes' to God, He will lead us to the next step.
Overcoming Common Fears of the Priesthood
Resistance to commitment in general is becoming a common condition in our present culture. Often people think if they keep their options open and don’t commit, that a better offer may come along. This actually only serves to breed discontent.
True freedom comes from sacrificing our own wants and desires to reach a greater good. God made us for happiness and greatness, and this can be found in discovering the plan for our life and then committing ourselves to this greater good, even if it means giving up some things.
A vocation, well lived and permanent, can be such a joy filled and happy call. Look for examples of this in the people around you and take courage. There is freedom to be found in the security of a life-long commitment.
Perhaps priesthood has crossed your mind, but fear pushes the idea away. These fears are very common, even for men who are already in seminary. But literally thousands of men have had the same concerns and then went on to become holy and effective priests.
The first principle to remember is that God does not speak through fear. Fear is a tactic of the Enemy to keep you from pursuing God’s will; it is like the bite of an animal that paralyses its prey to keep it from moving. A man in fear will find it difficult to move toward God’s will.
If not the Priesthood, could you be called to Ordained Ministry as a Permanent Deacon?
‘Deacon’ comes from the Greek word diakonos which means a servant or helper. Those studying for the priesthood are ordained deacon as a step towards the priesthood (transitional deacons). The first responsibility of the deacon is to be an effective visible sign of Christ who came to serve rather than to be served. The permanent diaconate was restored in the 1960s and those ordained as permanent deacons have a ministry in today’s Church that is far reaching. Working under their bishop and alongside the parish priest, they serve the Church through the celebration of baptism and marriage, by preaching and by helping the most vulnerable members of the community.
Although the ministry of the deacon may be exercised on a part-time basis, he remains at all times a deacon and he is called, in his life-style, to reflect this. The ministry of the deacon is an expression of his being, as the documents say, an icon of Christ the servant. The areas of ministry which may be entrusted to deacons fall under three general headings, Altar, Word and Charity. Candidates for the permanent diaconate may be married or unmarried.