Called to Ordained Priesthood
The whole church is a priestly people. Through baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. All the baptized, then, are entrusted with building up of God’s people, the church, and the carrying on of some part of Christ’s work. This priesthood is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.”
Out of the common priesthood of the faithful, some are called to “ordained priesthood.”
Ordained priesthood is conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders for the purpose of serving the common priesthood of the faithful in the areas of preaching, sacramental ministry and parish leadership.
There are basically two ways to serve the church as a priest: either as a “diocesan priest” or as a “religious order priest.”
A diocesan priest usually serves his whole life in the boundaries of one particular geographical area, known as a diocese, under the leadership of a local bishop. A diocesan priest does not take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience or live in religious communities. A diocesan priest takes promises of obedience and celibacy and lives among lay people in order to serve lay people. A diocesan priest usually specializes in parish ministry or other forms of diocesan service.
Religious order priests takes vows, serve, live and pray in a community and follow the rule of the order of which they are members. Each religious order was founded for a specific purpose like teaching, working with the poor, contemplative prayer and missionary work. While diocesan priests usually work within one diocese, religious order priests may serve in other states or even other countries, depending on where their community needs to send them.
What Qualities Should a Priest Have?
Priests are, first of all, weak human beings. No one is really worthy of this convocation, but God has always chosen the weak and made them strong in bearing witness to him.
With that said, there are certain qualities the church requires of those who would be candidates for formation as diocesan priests.
Spiritual requirements include an integral faith, an acceptance of the faith as taught by the church, and a consistent manner of living it out in Christ; an active prayer life; an abiding love for the sacramental life of the church; and a sincere love of people.
Morally, candidates should possess a good reputation evident in the exercise of proven virtues and a sound prudential judgment.
Intellectually, candidates must have the ability, docility and openness to comprehend and complete the academic study of philosophy and theology.
In terms of human qualities, candidates should demonstrate an overall personal balance, mature flexibility and creativity in their approach to life. They also need to possess an ability to relate to others, to establish wholesome friendships and to deal with intimacy appropriately.
Physically, candidates must possess the good health necessary for priestly formation and ministry.
What About Celibacy and Obedience?
For many centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has required that all its ordained priests live a celibate lifestyle. Celibacy is the religious practice of devoting the time, love, energy and attention one would give to a spouse and family over to the service of God’s people. Celibacy makes complete availability for ministerial service possible.
Obedience, like celibacy, frees one for complete availability to perform apostolic service and insures that that service is in unity with the rest of the church under the leadership of the bishop. Obedience makes one a “team player.”
The seminary helps prepare candidates to make their promises of celibacy and obedience through suitable education and spiritual guidance and prayer.
What Are the Age Limits?
The Archdiocese of Louisville normally accepts young men as candidates for seminary between the ages of 18 and 50.
How Does One Apply?
Before the official application process begins, a possible candidate should begin a period of serious prayer, including regular attendance at Sunday Eucharist; get to know his pastor or a trusted priest friend; get involved in some ministry in his parish; and become known in parish ministry circles. All these people will be asked to make recommendations as part of the formal application process. A possible candidate should also plan to attend some of the organized Vocation Office programs, make a visit to a seminary and study the book Diocesan Priests in the Archdiocese Of Louisville. All of the above can be arranged through the Vocation Office. If all goes well in this phase, the official application process to be a seminarian for the diocese and a particular seminary can begin. At the end of the formal application process, the archbishop makes the final decision about acceptance.
How Do I Contact the Vocation Office?
Click here to go to the Vocation Office contact page.