Can a monk become a priest?

Glory to Jesus Christ!
If one enters a monastery after high school, without finishing college, can he become a priest? I know that he can be a monk AND a priest, but does he need to finish the college as a monk?

I am Byzantine Catholic and I want to become a hieromonk (monkpriest) and I am sorry for not posting this on Eastern Catholicism.

Please pray for me! :byzsoc:

I believe that a monk is a priest who merely lives the monastic/mendicant life. It is a brother who lives as a man in the religious life, but is not ordained.

I hope this helps! May God bless you on your journey!

I am unfamiliar with the Byzantine tradition specifically, generally it could be possible as the religious order would merely send you to either it’s own seminary or whoever they partner with. It of course becomes the decision of your religious superior on whether you become a priest or not. They might however, suggest you finish an undergraduate degree in either theology or philosophy before you enter the monastery, if it is your vocation to be a priest. But it would be up to the order you join. But like I said I am unfamiliar with the Byzantine tradition and there may be different steps than in western tradition.

Monks are not necessarily priests, at least not in Eastern monasticism.

Nor are they in Roman Catholicism.

I have a friend who is a cloistered Benedictine monk.

His foundation determined that they had need of another priest within the monastery, and my friend’s Prior approached him to ask him to discern if he is being called.

My friend discerned that he was, and began instruction towards the priesthood at the Benedictine house of studies in Rome

The priesthood is not something that a monk seeks, rather he seeks holiness for himself and for others. If the priesthood is a means to accomplish that goal, it will come first from his Prior, but will be a free choice to accept a calling, as any Sacrament MUST be a free choice. It is not possible for a Religious Superior to force a man into the priesthood under binds of obedience.

Monks live the monastic life.

Friars live the mendicant life.

They’re not the same thing. :slight_smile:

Some religious are referred to as ‘brother’ whether or not they are ordained. Other religious (especially superiors) can be referred to as ‘father’ even though they are not ordained.

Confusing, isn’t it? :blush:

Monks can become priests, and in fact a large number do, but (as other respondents have said) it is neither essential nor the primary reason why men enter the monastery. There is an argument to be made that the proliferation of monks who were ordained in recent centuries was and remains a departure from tradition, inasmuch as the monastic life was not previously noted for large numbers of priests.

Hope this helps.

In Christ,

I think this is very variable. It is true that in beginnings of monastic life was not about ordained priests. Certain orders maintained that while others did not. The spread of Christianity through Europe and the Americas was mainly accomplished by religious orders and thus religious priests, including monastics, despite their monastic life. And for a time, it appears that religious priests were more numerous than secular priests especially in northern Europe.

In the East where the married priesthood remains, only celibate priests could be bishops, thus monastic priests potentially wielded some influence in the church and became more visible if not more numerous than secular priests.

I think you’re probably right. :slight_smile: Maybe I was oversimplifying, although I did state that there one could argue this position rather than that said position was clearly the case.

There have been periods, such as during the Cistercian ascendancy, when monks were so plentiful that they almost formed a parallel diocesan structure, with many priests being ordained. But personally I would maintain that this was not in keeping with the traditions of monasticism nor the wishes of the founders of the major communities, and that these events represent relative aberrations within an overall time-frame of 1500 years of western monasticism. Monasteries in Europe (and later elsewhere) were intended to foster enclosed prayer rather than evangelise the local populations, but as you say, this was not the focus of all monastics for all of the Church’s history, for better or worse.

People are free to disagree, obviously enough. Best wishes to you.

In Christ,


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