So priests can dispense private vows, and only a few require intervention from a higher office these days. My question is: is this like a sacrament such as confession where the priest and other person must be physically with each other or can the priest just do it over the phone? I’m guessing no, but it never hurts to ask.
Yes, but you don’t need anyone to dispense a private vow. Just tell God, you made a mistake and beg His pardon. But don’t be so rash in the future. Instead of making vows just tell God you will try to do better.
If you do not make a vow in a ceremony with a priest I do believe it requires him to relieve you of it.
If it was a vow made just from you to God, say at home, I believe you need to just talk to God about it.
This is just my opinion.
I could commute one to an equal good, but only a priest could dispense one entirely or commute to a lower good.
Yes you do.
A private vow is a very particular thing and needs the proper authority to be dispensed.
And that would be ones Pastor or Bishop that would need to dispense it.
Unless the Bishop has given the authority to another Priest.
Not just any Priest.
As to the question - I would think that a private vow can be dispensed even if the person is not present physically.