A calling to the priesthood

Hello everyone,

I am positive that I am called to be a priest, it is frightening, but I know that that is what God wants for me, however:

I am feeling drawn towards being a religious priest

I look at my talents and abilities and see myself better as the image I have of a diocesan priest

I want to follow what God wants me to do, so I am here to ask “what is the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan priest?”

what do they do in common? what is special about each of them?

Take a look at the Dominicans. They typically serve and run a chuch in a diocese but are also the Order of Preachers. We absolutely adore our Dominican Priests that run our church, and they have been then since the very early 1900’s. We are in the Southern Dominican Order. Our church is the priory for Houston and has 13 resident Dominican Priests and I think a Dominican Brother. It is the best of both worlds.

Is you your priest by any chance named Fr. Ian?

I think that I understand what the original poster is saying. I feel called to the priesthood and am probably going to enter religious life. One of my concerns is over poverty, even though I am interested in mendicant orders. For instance, how many of my books shall I be able to keep(i.e. do I have to give them all to a public library or to relatives who do not care about them?). I also love classical music, but will I be too poor to ever atttend a concert or an opera? I know that these examples may sound trivial, but I am still trying to forsake my worldliness.

I am feeling drawn towards being a religious priest


I know it is a bit blunt to ask, but you need to reflect on what exactly it is that seems to be calling you to be a reliious rather than a diocesian Priest. This, naturally would involve detemining what sort of religious order you were interested in; as there are many types - which I shall cover later.

I want to follow what God wants me to do, so I am here to ask “what is the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan priest?”

A Diocesian Priest works under a Bishop in a more secular environment. Wheras a Religious Priest lives under a particular order, such as the Dominicans, Benedictines and so forth - the differences are so vast that it is hardly practicable to mention them, or there particular divisions.

In **general **however, the major forms of religious life are as follows;

The Eremitic Life, or being a Hermit - tending to live alone or seperate from comminites.
Monastic Orders - tending to live in community and concentrating on prayer, examples being Trappists or Benedictines.
Mendicant Orders - Dedicating themselves to the service of the needy, examples being Fransiscans or Carmelites.
Apostolic orders - Such as the Society of Jesus.

A priest of a religious order takes vows while a diocesan priest makes promises. While the vows and promises are similiar, the diocesan priest makes no promises of poverty which means they can own property, invest money, have savings, etc,.

A religious order priest usualy lives with a community while a diocesan priest may or may not live with another priest depending on the size of the parish he is assigned to.

A diocesan priest is incardinated in a specific diocese and will stay within that geographic boundry of that diocese unless he transfers to another diocese.

Those are just for starters:)!

A little background before I post my thoughts: I was in a similar place in my discernment until ~2 years ago. I entered a monastery that served a parish as its primary work and spent nearly a year in discernment with them, while attending (a diocesan) seminary. I am now beginning the pre-application discernment with my local diocese.

In the call to be a religious priest there are two vocations being considered: the religious life and the priesthood. In theory (and re-emerging in practice), most religious orders do not discern whether a particular member is to be ordained until after final vows. Some orders do ordain all their professed members, others only those needed to fulfill the communities needs. This is very important to keep in mind if your primary identification of your vocation is to the priesthood.

I would think that any spiritual director (if you can, get one) would direct you to consider your natural inclinations and abilities in discerning where you should go. Also, you should visit religious orders and seminaries, if possible.

Personally I found that what was attractive to me about the *idea *of religious life (community, in particular, along with austerity) was not guaranteed even by a joining an order that traditionally values these things. In fact, my “secular” classmates had a better sense of community and a better practice of austerity than we had in the monastery.

Generally the ideal of the diocesan priest painted by the Church (particularly in Presbyterorum Ordinis) is much closer to that of the religious than is commonly recognized, including a need for poverty and obedience (and of course chastity) in as real of a sense as lived by many religious orders.

What made the difference in the end for me was a realization that, for me, each vocation required as much as I could possibly give, to the point that I would be constantly torn between fulfilling the Rule and serving the parish. I simply cannot do both and, as much as I spiritually draw from the order, my primary vocation seems to be to the priesthood.


It really depends on the order. Don’t expect to have much space for books if you’re a Franciscan! They weren’t even sure if it was really alright to own breviaries at their foundation. :smiley:

I do joke a bit about that, though, because of course, Franciscans have a huge ministry in teaching and spreading the faith. So you’d have to have a library to accommodate for that-- whether it be in common or personal, I cannot say, since I don’t know the order personally.

The Dominicans definitely may own books, and tend to own a rather ridiculous amount of books. I say this from experience. Books, of course, are necessary for the Dominican vocation and have always been the prime ‘exception’ to the rule of poverty. Likewise, I can’t imagine that Jesuits don’t own books, although sometimes I wish they don’t. :rolleyes:

The question of going to see concerts or opera is different. Opera is obviously very expensive to have a subscription, so it’s very unlikely you could have a subscription. But there is nothing preventing you from going to the opera otherwise. Typically, orders will give some sort of modest stipend to its members. If this is the case, then you can ‘save up’ for an opera ticket. I don’t think it contradicts the spirit of poverty to love opera. Let me tell you as a graduate of Providence College that there is a certain president of the college, Fr. Brian Shanley OP, who is an absolute opera nut.

Indeed, the arts are profoundly liberating to the human soul. Any friar dedicated to spreading the truth of the faith had better love beauty. Let Bl. Fra Angelico be your guide here.

Sure, you won’t be able to go as often as if you were a diocesan priest (assuming your diocese is near a decent opera house-- as a friar or Jesuit you might be near a major city center), but you’ll still be able to go.

Life without books and music would be a very impoverished life, indeed, and in the bad sense of the word. God bless,


EDIT: And so, the question of ‘how much is too much’ is a question which you need to discern as regards books, music and the vow of poverty. It’s incredibly easy to become a hoarder. So it’s not as if one cannot violate the spirit of the vow of poverty by owning books and music. But it’s safe to say that simply having books and music does not ipso facto violate the vow-- at least for some orders.

Thank you very much for your insights, and I agree that knowledge and the arts are very important for the soul.

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