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General FAQS

What is a priest? A priest is a Christian, a member of the Church, called and anointed by God to proclaim the "Good News†of salvation to the world and to lead God's people in sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross in the Eucharist.  He is also privileged to bring Christ to people in the Sacraments; he gives the life of Christ to people in Baptism; he forgives their sins in Reconciliation; he anoints the sick; he officiates at weddings.  In general, the priest brings Jesus Christ to people in their spiritual needs. What exactly is a "vocationâ€? A vocation is a call from God to do something specifically for God and for His kingdom.  The primary vocation of every person is to be holy!  It is the divine calling to love and serve God, to obey his commandments, and to cooperate with Christ in the work of redemption by loving and serving others.  Everyone is called to live the vocation of holiness, but everyone lives it in a special and unique way according to the plan of God. Why be a priest? Everyone looks for meaning and fulfillment in life.  For Christians, life's meaning is related to serving God.  Many people serve God and find meaning and joy in the vocation of marriage.  But some young men, even though they see married life as a way of serving God, feel the Lord calling them to a different kind of service and life style in the Church.  Instead of marriage vows, they take the vows of obedience and celibacy.  Priesthood is a special way of serving the Christian community as a leader in prayer and service, as a brother and a "father.†Who is a diocesan priest? Call him a parish priest.  "Diocesan†comes from a Greek word meaning "to keep house,†and "parish,†(also a Greek word) means "a dwelling beside or near.† A diocesan priest is the priest involved in the day-to-day lives of people.  He "lives near them†in every way, and helps the local bishop to "keep house†in the family of God, either as an Associate Pastor or as a Pastor (and sometimes in ministries like teaching, or serving as a campus minister, or as a chaplain in a hospital, a military base, or a prison). I'm not all that "holy.† Can I still be a priest if I'm not very holy? Holiness (to be like Jesus) is a lifetime endeavor for every person in every vocation.  Don't worry if you don't see yourself as very holy right now.  God will form you slowly, day by day and week by week, so that you will be ready to be His instrument when the time comes.  But for now, use the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month.  Repent of your sins, receive the sacraments, and pray every day.  You will be surprised at how Christ-like you can become! How does someone become a priest? After being accepted as a candidate by a diocese, a man who wants to become a priest will go to the seminary.  In the seminary he will receive the preparation, both spiritual and academic, for priesthood.  If he enters right after graduating high school, he'll work towards an undergraduate degree in philosophy before continuing in a graduate program in theology.  Seminary training and discernment ranges from six to nine years, depending on one's education background, before a man is ordained a priest.  But do not let this discourage you.  God always gives us the grace to do what He asks us to do. Is all this education necessary? A priest is ordained to teach the truth, to lead the people on the way to salvation, and to sanctify them through the sacraments.  It is necessary for him to have well-balanced education as well as a deep grasp of theology and the spiritual life.  He cannot give his people what he himself doesn't possess.  He must be immersed in Truth, which is Jesus Christ, and effective in communicating this Truth to the flock entrusted to his care.  Every soul is precious to God and, therefore, to the priest. What are the qualities that the Church looks for in a candidate for the Priesthood? A good candidate is a practicing, believing Catholic.  He attends Mass at least weekly, prays every day, obeys the commandments, and tries to serve others.  He must be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.  He must be open to the will of God and the will to learn and grow. If I decided to go to the seminary to "give it a try†am I committed for life? No, you are not.  Most vocation directors agree that the only way to really know that you have a vocation to the priesthood is to go to the seminary and try.  It will become more and more clear to you once you are in an environment where everyone is also discerning the priesthood.  There is no obligation to stay in the seminary if you discover that priesthood is not for you.  Some people go to the seminary and eventually become priests while others discover different ways of serving the Lord.


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