Our priests at Holy Trinity are diocesan priests. A commonly asked question of diocesan priests is, “What order are you in?” Well, the answer is that diocesan priests are not in an order. A priest is either a diocesan priest or a religious (in an order). Still confused?
Diocesan priests report directly to the bishop of the diocese. (Our bishop is Cardinal Roger Mahony). Diocesan priests would normally serve their entire lives in their diocese and never serve elsewhere. Diocesan priests typically serve as parish priests. However, a few are called to serve as chaplains, campus ministers, teachers and in diocesan administration. Diocesan priests take promises at ordination of celibacy and obedience. They do not take a vow of poverty; however, they are expected to live lives of relative simplicity.
Priests who are in an order (“religious”) typically live in community and report to the head of their order. They typically take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They can be sent wherever their order serves (San Jose, New York, Kenya, etc.). They typically live out the charism of their order. For example, Jesuits normally serve as teachers or they serve in the missions. However, there are parishes that are run by religious order priests. There are a few parishes run by Jesuits. St. Peter’s in San Pedro is run by an order of Italian priests. These priests are serving as parish priests but normally, typically, they would serve, living out the particular charism of their order.
WHAT DOES A DIOCESAN PRIEST DO?
The Ministry of each priest depends somewhat upon his particular interests and skills and the needs of the diocese. A diocesan priest spends much of his time preparing for and celebrating the sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation, Baptism, Marriage, Sacrament of the Sick, Confirmation). Each day some time is set aside for personal, private prayer. Visiting the sick, visiting people in their homes and working with the various parish and neighborhood organizations are all part of his ministry. The parish priest must also be available to people when they have special needs. He is also a spiritual leader in the community. Along with his parishioners, he addresses issues that touch all members of the community, particularly those who are abandoned and forgotten. He is frequently involved in individual counseling (marriage problems, parent-teenager problems, drug problems or just life in general).
WHO CAN BECOME A DIOCESAN PRIEST?
A single man with average intelligence, emotional stability, good health and sincere interest in serving God's people may qualify for the priesthood. He must have a sincere interest in people and a true love of the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings, as outlined by the Second Vatican Council and subsequent official Church documents. He should also be a person who is generous and looking for the challenge that comes in following the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
Priestly vocations are the proof and, at the same time, the condition of the vitality of the Church . . . Hence springs the
indispensable need of the presence of the ordained minister, who is able, precisely, to celebrate the Eucharist.
-Pope John Paul II, May 10, 1981