Hey, Father! What is the job description for a priest?
Catholic Times received a Hey, Father! question from Stanley in Liberty, who asked, “What is the job description for a priest?” We thought a good way to answer that question would be to answer it like a real job posting. While on the subject, we also thought we should answer the question, “What is the job description for a consecrated religious?” So, if you or someone you know is thinking about a vocation to the priestly or religious life, read these job descriptions to get a better sense of what these vocations are all about.
Wanted: Roman Catholic priest
The Catholic Church – sanctifying lives and saving souls for just about 2000 years. Not too bad! Ever since our Lord ascended into Heaven, the Catholic Church, that was founded by Christ Himself, has been baptizing people and bringing the Gospel to every corner of the world.
To carry out her “Great Commission” to all the nations (cf. Mt. 28:19-20), priests have been helping the successors of the apostles (otherwise known as the “bishops”), by sharing in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. This ministerial sharing comes about by virtue of the marvelous sacrament of Holy Orders.
However, the road that leads from baptismal font to ordination is different for every vocation; much discernment is required, both on the part of the candidate for priesthood (called a “seminarian”) and – believe it or not – on the part of Holy Mother Church. This we know: the priesthood will endure until the end of this world. Where there are priests, there is the Eucharist. Where there is the Eucharist, there is Jesus and His Church. It is really very simple: no priests = no Eucharist = no Church.
Yet, the Church finds herself in a bit of paradox: she needs priests in order to celebrate the sacraments in order that she may endure until the Second Coming of Christ, but it does not necessarily need you. That’s right: God is perfect, ipso facto, He does not need you, but He desperately wants you to serve Him, and God continually calls men to serve Him and His holy Church as priests. The problem is not that God is not calling men, but that men are not responding. Maybe they are not hearing? Or perhaps they have never considered it? So, we here at Catholic Times are answering Stanley’s question by “putting out an ad” for the priesthood:
Priest job description:
Long hours, low pay, excellent benefits (mostly spiritual), high life satisfaction!
- Must be a baptized male, and a practicing Catholic;
- Must possess a sincere interest in the advancement of the Gospel;
- Some life experience helpful, but not required;
- Must enjoy the pursuit of Truth;
- Openness to being formed (i.e. open to fraternal correction and sanctification);
- Must be willing to take a vow of celibacy and obedience to the bishop;
- Lukewarm Catholics should not apply;
- Administer the sacraments; especially celebrating Mass;
- Pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily;
- Always be ready to defend and spread the Gospel with truth and charity;
- Radical availability to the flock entrusted to you;
- Help with budgeting, fundraising, and strategic planning of your parish/school;
- Offer counsel to: couples in marriage preparation, those seeking to become Catholic, those doubting the faith, and various other situations;
- Celebrate funeral Masses and bury the dead;
- Write weekly homilies, be proficient in communications;
- Regular meetings with parish staff, school board, finance council, pastoral council;
- Other duties as assigned.
We will ask for three written recommendations from credible sources; a psychological evaluation will be administered upon acceptance of application; and expect the total application process to take ~ 3-5 months minimum, and formation to last 6-8 years, depending on college experience. Upon completion of all of this, you will be called to the priesthood through the sacrament of Holy Orders by the bishop.
It is not hard to believe that the priesthood is a hard sell to a young man in this day and age. The secular world continues to present the false gospel of “I do whatever I want to do” and the false prophets of this age are good at convincing young men that the path to happiness lies within the self-will. The Church calls men who find themselves in the world, but not of the world. She is looking for men who the love the Church and find her instruction like honey to the taste (Ps. 19:11). She is always pursuing men who are courageous enough to lose their life so that they can find it (Mt. 10:39). She is looking for men who are called by God to the priesthood. If God is the one doing the calling, what do you have to lose? Apply today!
Father Michael Berndt is parochial vicar at Christ the King Parish in Springfield