"Let us love God,
and let us adore Him
with a pure heart
and a pure mind"
St Francis of Assisi
A Shepherd of Souls
Priests do far more than celebrate Mass and pray all day. The life of a priest is busy, demanding, challenging—and incredibly rewarding.
The vast majority of priests live happy, fulfilling lives. They love the people they serve, and in turn, are loved by their parishioners.
Priests are traditionally seen as fulfilling the biblical role of priest, prophet, and king.
Teach: Priests instruct others about the faith.
Shepherd: Priests guide, unite, and encourage their parishioners.
Sanctify: Priests administer the sacraments and encourage holiness.
Individual priests have a very wide variety of tasks within the Church. There are many specialized ministries such as being a chaplain, working at the diocesan offices, or teaching in a seminary. But the majority of priests serve in parishes. Their duties include:
The Priesthood serves every good human need. And where there is human need, there is the Catholic Priesthood.
What is the meaning of my life? Where am I to find the happiness that I desire? Our being cries out for meaning, for purpose, and, if we are honest with ourselves, for love.
God has not left us alone. He has heard our cries for love, for mercy, for justice, for beauty, for goodness, for truth. And he has loved us so much that he has become man and dwelt among us. He has sent his son, Jesus Christ, as an answer to human longing.
Christ instituted the priesthood so that we would not be alone. It is the priest who makes present Christ himself in the Eucharist through the daily offering of Holy Mass. It is the priest who leads men and women to God. The world needs priests, because ultimately the world needs Christ.
Read more: Signs of a Priestly Vocation
The priesthood is a calling.
The nature of this specific service can be summarised in three words: Teach, Shepherd, Sanctify. This is the nature of the Priesthood, that a priest teaches his people (by preaching and in many other ways), shepherds his people (by exercising a humble leadership for a community of faithful), and sanctifies his people (by celebrating the sacraments for his people and praying daily for them and their needs.)
In order to act as a servant, however, a priest also needs to be a ‘friend of Christ’, so at the very heart of priesthood is not the actions of service but a heart that is moulded to Jesus.
A priest is not measured by what he does, but who he is!
The priests in your parish can trace his ordination right back to Jesus and the apostles. From the beginning of the early Church, the apostles ordained successors. It is from this unbroken chain, known as ‘Apostolic Succession’ that the priesthood comes, and finds its guarantee of authenticity.
Christ himself chose the apostles and gave them a share in his mission and authority:
“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” (Jn. 20:21 RSV)
“He who hears you hears me...” (Lk. 10:16 RSV)
“[W]hatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 18:18 RSV)
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn. 20:23 RSV)
“[Baptise] them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19 RSV)
Today, he has not forsaken his flock but he keeps it under his constant protection through his priests.