Priesthood » Priesthood Explained

Priesthood Explained

PathwaysWho is a priest

All Christians are called to live a ‘priestly’ life, which means they offer their whole lives in prayer and service to God in union with the offering of Jesus the High Priest. This is our ‘baptismal’ priesthood. The ‘ministerial’ priest, however, through the sacrament of ordination, shares in the priesthood of Christ in a special way. His very being is transfigured in this sacrament, so that he can represent Christ the Good Shepherd for us, Christ as the Head of the Church. He not only offers his own life to the Father in sacrifice, as all Christians do, but he also stands before the Church and ministers to us as Christ ‘in person’. When he teaches with the authority of the Church then Christ teaches; when he forgives sins in the sacrament of Penance then Christ forgives; when he offers the Sacrifice of the Mass then Christ offers that Sacrifice; when he loves and supports and cares for his people then Christ is present with his people. Because of the wishes of Jesus himself, confirmed by the tradition of the Church throughout the centuries, the ministerial priesthood is reserved for men. In the Western Church the priesthood is also reserved, ordinarily, for single men who are willing to make a lifelong commitment to celibacy, for in this way they can give their whole hearts and minds to the service of the Lord and to the love of his people.

Fr Stephen Wang, How to Discover your Vocation, CTS

What is a diocesan priest?

A diocesan priest is one who is called to serve souls in a particular diocese. The Bishop has been placed by Christ as the head of that diocese, and the diocesan priest serves in obedience to and collaboration with him, serving mostly in parishes. Diocesan priests administer the sacraments, they are responsible for the instruction of their people, they are close to them in their lives and trials, they counsel, forgive and serve constantly, heroically, patiently.

What is a religious priest?

A religious priest is a member of a religious community who has received the Sacrament of Orders. He is under the authority of his own superiors, and he serves the local diocese through the works of his order or congregation located there. However he is not limited to serving in one diocese but can be assigned elsewhere by his superiors. Everywhere he serves he does so with the permission of the local bishop. Some religious priests serve in parishes, but the majority have more specialized apostolates, such as education, retreats, communications, etc.


We hope this information will be of help but it is unlikely to be any real substitute for the personal contact required to explore a vocation. Therefore we have group meetings or one-to-ones with no commitment - feel free to ring Father Mark Hogan on 01256 323595 or click here to email.

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