I am currently in discernment but I have some questions regarding the diocesan priesthood. The first, is how much authority do I have to structure the mass in a more tradional light to the parish that I am assigned? Specifically, alter rails for communion, no female alter servers, no lay eucharistic ministers, no face-to-face confession, no modern music?
The second question is on the location of my assignment. Does a priest enter the diocese that he lives in before he becomes a priest? Will he only serve that diocese the rest of his life? I ask this because I preferably do not want to serve as a priest in the city that I live in now, especially with so many friends and family living there as well. Thanks.
In theory, you have complete authority to do most if not all these things. Practically speaking, your authority is much more limited. You will have to “give” on a number of things. And you have to build a strong father-child relationship with your parishioners before you even begin to explain that you would like to change things and why. If you care more about liturgical rectitude than getting to know your parishioners, you will most likely not even make it to ordination.
Once ordained, a priest is “incardinated”, meaning among other things he is bound to that diocese. You can be “decardinated” and “incardinated” into a new order or diocese, but that is sometimes a lengthy process and has some complications.
A lot of this will boil down to your bishop. He will decide your placement, and he will decide if he is going to back you on your liturgical changes. And chances are, he will not support you - unless you have laid down your life for your sheep (including sacrificing your liturgical preferences - even if they are preferred by the Church [ie. ad orientam]) and they learn to trust and love you over time. At that point, they will run the bishop out of town if he ever dares to come down on you wrongly!
Btw, notredame, I have read some of your other posts. Shin has directed you to the FSSP, and that is your best bet. The ICK is another possibility. I know these things from experience - I studied for a diocese but had the same liturgical preferences as you, and it was constant concern and anxiety. The Lord decided to pull me out of seminary, but had I been ordained, Sunday Mass would have been an excruciating cross, and the time in between would have been about as difficult. I would not have lasted.
From my extensive if casual study of what it is to be a priest in the diocesan clergy, the first concern is in the name: the diocese and its head: the bishop.
Now that the Church as a whole is beginning to straddle several ideological tones, from ultra-traditional to a diluted Christianity bordering on Unitarian Universalism, the tempo of your parish life as curate or pastor will be determined largely by the bishop and the diocese’s overall tone.
The bishop exercises a limited sovereignty in determining how the Church and Her sacraments will be integrated into the larger social context of that diocese. Sovereignty, suggesting a ‘final say.’
Even if this seems like a tight rope, there is the redeeming ‘silver lining’ in that the bishop is almost certainly a capable person, a man who has served as a second Christ for decades, and is more than likely an accomplished academic.
So, this removes the professional tension of serving under a young, incompetent know-nothing, and ensures that there is a formidable presence there to advocate for you and offer sound direction during your crisis.
With that said, happily our bishops these days seem to be drawn from the moderate to conservative pole. Deo Gratias
This is pretty much what it means to be a diocesan priest. There might be further opportunities for you to develop yourself in a ‘traditional’ vocation by joining one of the Ecclesia Dei orders. I noticed that you didn’t list ‘Latin liturgy’ amongst your criteria, but keep in mind that virtually everything else that you seem to have a preference for will be left to the complete discretion of your bishop. In today’s climate, it is more likely that some idiot will raise Cain over a RC priests refusal to let girls serve on the altar, than it is that your parishioners will have your back in a dispute with the bishop. Just my 0.02$…
There are also rules governing the minimum time a person has resided in a diocese before being accepted as a seminary candidate. A poignant example are famous, old dioceses that are hubs of RC life–ex: Rome–where vicious opportunists might enroll, simply for misguided ambitions. However, exceptions can be made, especially around American metropolises (and probably with the bishop’s discretion).
Yeah, pick your diocese carefully. You don’t have to go with the one you live in now. If it’s (as the above poster adequately stated) basically Unitarian Universalist, you’ll have to be prepared to be persecuted for your Catholic faith by your boss and coworkers (to say nothing of your flock). Which means that a lot of things that are important to you, like following the Catholic tradition of worship, may be denied to you.
On the other hand, if your diocese (or the one you pick) is traditional, then you will probably not be fighting an uphill battle the whole time.
One possible issue is that there are areas and situations that are “conservative”, but not entirely traditional. I know a good and holy priest who is ridiculed by his fellow priests for saying the Tridentine Mass, even though the area is mostly conservative. Some conservatives love the tradition, but others seem to hold it in low regard.
Oh, and one final overbearing, pushy, ill-informed piece of advice:
I noticed the last paragraph about how you would prefer not to serve in your home city. Very well, everyone knows the saying about how ‘one cannot be a prophet amongst his own people.’
But maybe, and this might be a stretch, I think we might have the same concern about serving as a diocesan priest: that we don’t feel the office of priesthood is consonant with who we were before ordination or even seminary. If this is the case, and this is the concern, remember that the assumption of the priest’s office is to first die and then to keep on living; and no matter how ignominious your past was, it will only serve as a terrific example to all Christians if you become a great priest.
Again, part of what the diocesan priesthood is–in a nutshell–is to be ‘the neighborhood priest,’ serving the community in which he grew up, and matching their cultural values and shaping a priesthood that answers their idiosyncratic concerns as a community.
It is very telling indeed that one of the ‘prerogatives’ of the diocesan priesthood, is that the bishop cannot dispatch a priest from his home diocese for an indefinite period of time, or at all (I forget the actual canon law passage, but you catch my drift).