Catholic Vocations
Archdiocese of Melbourne
What is a priest

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Why would anyone want to become a Catholic priest?

Here is one priest's answer to that question:

"I became a priest because I felt Jesus calling me to this special vocation. Jesus calls me still. It is a gentle but very deep invitation everyday to be the sort of person Jesus wants me to be. I have become a servant in the Church. I proclaim the Good News found in the scriptures. I lead the people in the celebration of the Sacraments and encourage the community of the parish to grow in faith."

A priest is both the leader and the servant of his parish community. He leads them to Jesus by his example of faith and by celebrating the Sacraments of the Church. The priest welcomes new members into the Church at Baptism, he forgives their sins in Reconciliation, he officiates at the celebration of their Marriage, anoints them in time of illness and commends them to eternal life at their funeral. And, most importantly, every day he offers the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with Jesus' instruction to his apostles at the Last Supper.

A priest may be called on to bless a new house/car/shop, he will be called to visit people when they are in hospital or in prison, he will talk to children at school and instruct them in their life of faith. He is responsible for the efficient administration of his parish. A diocesan priest will likely spend all his priestly life in the parishes of his diocese or archdiocese, but, having promised obedience to his bishop at his Ordination, he may also be called on to undertake other tasks, such as teaching or lecturing, chaplaincy, formation of seminarians, administration of the diocese or directing diocesan agencies.

A priest promises to live a life of celibacy. He does not get married so as to dedicate himself completely to Jesus and to His people. The sacrifice of celibacy is a sign to the world that only Jesus can give us the happiness that we all crave. Giving up something as important as marriage and family is a powerful sign to the world that Jesus Christ is real. He is worth living for and sacrificing for. Celibacy is not easy, but neither is marriage. The fact is every vocation requires personal sacrifice. And there is great joy in sacrifice when it is done for Jesus and for others.

If a young man thinks he may be called to become a Priest he should first of all speak to his parish priest who may suggest that he then talk to the Vocations Director. He will be advised to deepen his faith by regular attendance at Mass and the Sacraments, by developing his personal prayer life and relationship with Jesus and by reading the Scriptures and other spiritual writings. He may be invited to accompany other young men on their journey of discernment by attending regular reflection/discussion meetings and a spiritual Retreat devoted to considering God's call.

Should the young man then decide to make formal application to join the seminary he will undertake an assessment process to determine his suitability for this life and assure both him and his Bishop that this is an appropriate next step for him to take. Once he is accepted for the seminary he will begin approximately 7 years of study and formation leading to Ordination. He will study theology and philosophy and get pastoral experience as well as learning life skills and having times of prayer and recreation in community. The years at the seminary are part of the process of discernment so at any time either the student or his teachers and formators can decide that it would be better that he leave and pursue his life of faith in another field. Read the testimonies of some priests.

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