Addressing a Priest

This may be the completely wrong place to post this, if it is I am sorry.

I want to send a simple note to my pastor should I use the formal The Rev. Last Name, misc. letters title or simply Fr. Last Name. I don’t personally know my pastor so its difficult for me to say if it would matter to him. I plan on just doing a simple hand written note, not typed up or anything if that matters.

Any suggestions?

THIS may be helpful to you. Since you do not know him I would err on the side of being perfectly formal and professional. The written note is fine, better actually than a typed one, but it is the priest’s place to give the level of formality or informality with you, not your place to assume.

Always go with the most formal and you can not go wrong.

Although I would say that using English instead of Italian would probably be best. :wink:


Personally I would address my Pastor or the other priests in a handwritten note the same way I address them in person. Especially if the note is on a personal or informal topic.

“Dear Father,” if you have any reason to use it, should be fine, although as a formal style, I’d use, “the Reverend Father John Smith,” on the envelope and then addressing him in the note, I’d likely skip the “dear”, although, “Reverend Father,” as an address would feel a bit 19th century. “Reverend Father, in filial obedience I adress you upon this day to bring to your attention the following concerns,” is not probably how you want to start. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

In your case, I’d probably go for, “Rev. Fr John Smith,” on the envelope and “Father Smith” as the opening address inside. :slight_smile:

envelope and top of letter
Rev. John Smith (NOT Rev. Fr.)
St. Mary Church

Dear Father (spelled out) Smith:
(colon for a business letter, common for a personal letter)
if everyone in the parish calls him Fr. John, then
Dear Father John,

I might also suggest esp. the priest does not know you or may not remember you name, to mention that you are a parishioner, because of course he has the concerns of parishioners close to his heart.

“Reverend Father” is correct if old-fashioned. If you want to be painstakingly correct, the definite article should be used, i.e. “the Reverend John Smith”. Use with only the surname is incorrect, Mr or Father are acceptable. The lack of use of “Father” in this style may come from the fact it originated in the Church of England, where for obvious reasons “Father” wasn’t popular. For a Catholic priest, “Father” replaces “Mr”, which is a title and may be used instead of given name, although I can’t see why it shouldn’t be used with both given and surname.

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