What is a Catholic Priest?
Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the "common priesthood of the faithful." Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community. (CCC1591). The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching , divine worship and pastoral governance. (CCC 1592) Through that sacrament, a priest, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, becomes forever a representative of Christ and Christ acts through him. (CCC 1563)
Priesthood is about leadership and service, following the example of Jesus. This leadership takes the shape of caring for people, speaking God’s Word to them, celebrating Mass and other sacraments, and being with people in the best and worst times of their lives, seeking to be the presence of Jesus to them throughout the parishes of our Diocese. A few priests also have specialised ministries as chaplains to schools, hospitals or the armed forces, as university lecturers, or working in a remote outback town.
A priest uses his own talents and interests as part of his ministry – be they sporting, musical, cultural or academic. Priesthood is not just a one-size-fits-all job, but a way of seeking to be the best person you can be, growing closer to Jesus, bringing others to Jesus, and making a real difference. It’s a life of significance and purpose.
A priest’s life is essentially one of prayer and loving service. A priest always draws on Christ as his source of grace and life. With St Paul he says, "for me to live is Christ.".
Am I Called?
How to know God is calling me to the Priesthood?
Most men called to the priesthood have experienced several (but not all) of the following.
- Inner desire to pray more and take the faith more seriously.
- Passion for the Faith.
- Have a basic desire to give your life to God completely and the desire to be a priest.
- Can’t shake the possibility of priesthood.
- Attracted to the things are involved in the life of a priest.
- Others have said, “You’d make a Good Priest.”
- Have a desire to serve people in different ways, or to pass on the faith, or to pray with and for others.
- Being committed to one’s Catholic faith – a love for Christ, for the Sacraments, for the People of God.
Taking The Step
Just like marriage, priesthood is a life-long commitment before God. But taking the first steps towards priesthood doesn’t commit you forever. Initially, you meet with the vocation director who will accompany you for several months as you decide if you want to take the next step of moving into the seminary.
Joining the seminary isn’t binding either – it’s a time of discernment too, with self-reflection each year to see if you are deepening your sense of calling from God to priesthood, or to something else. It’s like a very long engagement! It’s not until your final year that you are asked to commit to ordination and to life as a priest.
If you’re interested in find out more there are a few things you can do:
- Talk to a parent or a friend you can trust.
- Talk to a priest, youth minister or teacher.
- Contact the vocations director, Fr Paul Durkin on 02 9489 3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr Paul would love to meet with you and talk about what God has been doing in your life. He will explore with you: your sense of God's call, your life story, your life of prayer and relationship with God, your involvement in the life of the Church and ways of discerning the path ahead. You can come and meet our students and other seminarians at the Good Shepherd Seminary who are in formation.
And definitely, keep on praying. It is God who knows your heart better than anyone, better than even you do yourself, and it is only through prayer that you can truly discover the wonderful plans God has for your life.