FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What does a priest do all day?
A priest labors each day to build bridges between heaven and earth. He helps bring God to people and people to God. Each day is different and brings with it new opportunities to offer spiritual nourishment to his parishioners and assistance with their earthly needs as well.

In the Diocese of Worcester most priests minister in its 105 parishes and missions. Priests celebrate Mass daily and administer the Sacraments regularly: hearing confessions, anointing the sick, baptizing the young and old, witnessing marriages, commending the dead to God, and comforting those who mourn. Priests preach God's Word, teach God's ways and extend God's mercy to all whom they encounter. It is a busy, varied, and rewarding life that demands physical stamina, mental discipline and spiritual maturity.

How often does a priest have to pray?
In short, Every day! Prayer occupies a central place in priestly life and ministry. Just as a man desires to speak to a best friend regularly, a priest understands that quiet time spent with Christ in prayer every day is essential. Daily prayer provides a priest with an important source of strength, enabling him to be about the business of heaven on earth. The Church in her wisdom knows how vital it is for the priest to be a man of prayer. One of the promises a priest makes at his ordination is to pray daily for God's people and for the world.

Does a priest ever find it difficult to pray?
Of course. It is not always easy to pray. Just as an athlete may at times find it difficult to train, or a student may at times find it difficult to study, or a laborer may at times find it difficult to work, so too there are times when a priest may find it difficult to pray. At these moments priests rely upon God’s Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to assist them.

Does a priest get time off?
In the Diocese of Worcester a priest receives one day off each week and up to one month of annual vacation time. Two additional weeks are allotted for retreats, workshops and conferences. Most priests have active hobbies and special interests they turn to for relaxation and enjoyment. In addition, diocesan priests are required to make a five-day annual retreat, either alone or with brother priests.

Does a priest earn any money?
Diocesan priests receive a modest salary from the parish they serve. If a priest chooses to buy some clothes, go to a movie, purchase some itunes, or take a vacation, these funds would come from his salary. However, in addition to their salary, parish priests receive room and board, certain professional-expense reimbursements and health care insurance.

Diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty like religious order priests. Nevertheless, they are encouraged to live a simple lifestyle and be generous to the poor. The black clerical clothes typically worn by a priest are an outward sign of the modest standard of living that is proper to priestly life and ministry.

What is the difference between a diocesan priest and a religious priest?
A diocesan priest belongs to a body of priests who are members of the same diocese and, therefore, under the leadership of the same bishop. The Diocese of Worcester serves over 300,000 Catholics from 67 towns and cities.

A religious order priest belongs to a specific congregation or community that is bound together by a common mission rather than a geographic location. Unlike diocesan priests, religious order priests take a vow of poverty and do not own items individually. Most often, religious order priests specialize in a certain type of ministry, such as education, social services, health care or foreign missions.

How long does it take to become a diocesan priest?
It takes four to six years after college or eight to ten years after high school, the same as for many professions. There is no certain age to start preparing for the priesthood. Some people attend high school seminaries; others enter the seminary after high school, after college, or after they have ventured into the working world for a number of years.

Do you have to be a virgin to enter the priesthood?
While it is not an absolute requirement for a person to be a virgin, it is imperative that a person has demonstrated a significant period of chaste living before entering seminary. His passions should be properly ordered and his ability to live celibately should be indicated by his Christian lifestyle.

Do you lose your freedom as a priest?
Every vocation in life requires certain sacrifices and placing others first. A vocation to the priesthood is no different. At his ordination, a diocesan priest makes a formal promise of obedience to his bishop. This pledge of loyalty ensures that the Bishop may fully respond to the needs of God's people in an ever-changing world. A priest considers others first when he ministers from day to day.

What if I have made mistakes in my life?
A man need not be a saint to be a priest, though a priest ought to desire to become one. The desire to seek God's forgiveness and the readiness to accept divine mercy demonstrates growth in holiness. Simply put, some mistakes are more serious than others. A hometown pastor or the vocation director can be of great assistance in helping a man discern his readiness for priestly life and ministry.

Will I have to give up friends and family in order to respond to a call to priesthood?
No. In fact, friends and family are a very important support for priests. Priests are encouraged to attend family events and to find ways to support family members and friends through their prayer and presence.