What Does a Priest Do?

A diocesan priest spends his time being God’s instrument in the world. His activity revolves around the priestly identity given to him at Ordination, and the three munera, or roles, of the priest–to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. They correspond to the three identifications of Christ as Priest (sanctifier), Prophet (teacher), and King (governor). Each munera is exercised in different ways depending upon the specific assignment of the priest.

The munera of teaching is exercised whenever he preaches at Mass, offers spiritual counsel, teaches in a parish school, etc.

The munera of sanctifying is exercised first and foremost through the celebration of the sacraments, especially daily Mass, and through blessing and living a life of prayer.

The munera of governing is expressed through the daily administration of the parish, or specific ministry, and through providing for the human and spiritual needs of his flock.

His Life Is Not Ordinary

No two days are the same in the life of a priest. People truly need God, and it’s the priest’s job to bring Jesus to whomever he finds himself with. These graced moments truly change lives, so a priest can regularly say, “If I were a priest only for that moment, if all my life was only for this, then it would all be worth it.”

But a “typical” day in the life of a priest may involve:
• celebration of Mass(es)
• lots of personal prayer
• meeting and counseling people (old, young, married, single)
• hearing Confessions
• visiting the sick and attending to the dying
• meeting with staff and administering the parish
• visiting with children from the parish school or youth groups
• performing a funeral Mass
• attending a wake
• and more!

Sometimes, a day might not seem to have a lot of scheduled events but includes being present to the community in simple ways. Other times, from the moment of getting up in the morning until going to bed at night, he is busy with one thing after another. Oftentimes, a priest can say at the end of the day: “I am tired, but very happy!” because he has spent the day giving of himself.

A priest is a still a man, so part of his daily life includes free time for himself, exercise, entertainment and being with friends and family. These things, just as is the case for all people, are interspersed in the everyday life of a priest, and help us to remember that a priest is “taken from among men and made their representative before God” (Hebrews 5:1) and is not lacking in the needs that that all people possess.

His Life Is Configured to Christ

The daily life of a priest in the parish is permeated by his configuration to Jesus Christ. This means that priests are called to a way of life that gives evident and clear witness to the power of the Gospel at work in their personal and ministerial lives, which cannot ever be totally separated. His whole life becomes a witness.

He Is a Member of a Priestly Brotherhood

One integral part of the life of a Diocesan Priest is the community to which he belongs. As it is said: “No man is an island.” This is true for the Diocesan Priest too. His life is filled with the friendship and brotherhood of other priests in his presbyterate.

He Is a Son, Brother, and Spiritual Father

In addition to his community and personal friendships with brother priests, each diocesan priest enjoys the community of his parish, where he is engaged in the daily lives of his parishioners as a friend, brother, and spiritual father. Of course, he also enjoys the community of his own family, interacting with them in a profound way, as a priest and as a son, brother, uncle, etc.

He May Have a Specialized Ministry

Usually, a diocesan priest serves as a parish priest at the local level, but sometimes he will be assigned to a “specialized ministry”, where he serves the church at the diocesan level instead. This may include being chaplain at a school, hospital, prison, or military facility; a director of an office such as Vocations, Youth, College, or Pro-Life ministries; a seminary formator or faculty member, etc. Regardless of his assigned ministry, he will live in a parish or seminary setting, celebrating Mass each day and administering the sacraments routinely.

Learn more about the Priesthood

Importance of Priesthood

The Priesthood is a call, not a career; a redefinition of self, not just a new ministry; a way of life, not a job; a state of being, not just a function; a permanent, lifelong commitment, not a temporary style of service; an identity, not just a role.

Becoming a Priest

Becoming a priest is a joyful and thoughtful process. Vocations Boston invites you to explore your calling to the Priesthood. Take the first step by learning more about this path now.

About the Seminary

Applying for seminary is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it is not something you decide on your own – it comes as an invitation from your vocation director.


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