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.
Teach: Priests instruct others about the faith.
Shepherd: Priests guide, unite, and encourage their parishioners.
Sanctify: Priests administer the sacraments and encourage holiness.
A Sacred Ministry to God's People
“The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
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:
- Celebrate Mass and preach the Gospel
- Lead a parish of Catholic Christians
- Bring new members into the Church through Baptism
- Hear Confessions and provide spiritual direction
- Help teens and young adults come to know Christ
- Prepare couples for marriage and counsel married couples
- Teach people how to pray
- Feed the poor, visit prisons, and advocate for justice
- Counsel people going through difficult times
- Visit the sick in hospitals and anoint them for healing
- Perform funerals and bury the dead
- Manage the temporal affairs of the parish
- Pray daily for the People of God
A Day in the Life of a Priest
A Week in the Life of a Priest
Could God Be Calling You to Be a Priest?
Christ asks of some men the sacrifice of their lives in following him as his more intimate companions. From all eternity, certain men are called to the priesthood. It is a call inscribed in their nature and because of this, is a call that will bring them fulfillment.
Priests act in persona Christi capitas, which means “in the person of Christ, head of the Church.” That’s why the priest speaks in the first person at Mass, “This is my body, given up for you.” As Pope John Paul II wrote: “The priest offers his humanity to Christ, so that Christ may use him as an instrument of salvation, making him as it were into another Christ.”
When a priest makes the sacraments present, he wields a sacred power from God, in Latin, sacra potestas.
At ordination, a man’s soul undergoes an ontological change—a change of being—which indelibly marks his soul forever. Once a priest, always a priest.