Diocescan Priesthood spirituality

**Dear Brothers and Sisters in the SACRED HEART!!

After quite some time of discernment, and running from idea to idea, I think the firmest calling I feel is to my Home Diocese in London. I am quite strongly beginning to believe that the last place I wanted to consider, is actually where the LORD might want me. Now as the title of this thread states, I am interested about the mechanics of Diocescan Priesthood and its Spirituality. I can stand corrected if need be, however I think that Diocescan Priests are free to be able to choose their spirituality correct? I know that there are a lot of Priests who are with third orders, Opus DEI, etc. If this is the case, I would love to be a third order Franciscan.

Or does diocescan Priesthood have its own special spirituality that is exclusive to diocescan Priesthood?**

There is no “secular” spirituality.

Secular priests may choose from what ever spiritualities bring them closer to God, even mixing & matching to suit their personalities.

Although Anglican, Our priest is an Oblate - Benedictine Order. Same level of commitment to the Third Order.

Anyone, whether ordained or not can begin the journey of becoming a member of the Third Order or Oblates etc. I myself began that journey last year and not for me if I am being honest with myself.
Being a Priest doesn’t make it any different to those who are not Ordained. Just because you are a priest, doesn’t mean it is necessarily for you. What makes it ‘free’ for you to begin the process is your own committment/calling rather than any regulation given by the Ministry.

Cool! Now, it’s time to contact the vocations department there, and start discerning with them whether you’re called to priesthood in that diocese! :thumbsup:

Or does diocescan Priesthood have its own special spirituality that is exclusive to diocescan Priesthood?

I think that it would be helpful to make a certain distinction, here. I don’t know if there are proper ways of describing it, but the distinction that I’d like to offer is between the charism of the diocesan priest and the way that a diocesan priest lives out his spiritual life.

The charism of a diocesan priest includes sharing in the ministry of his diocesan bishop, to whom he’s promised obedience. It includes shepherding a particular part of his bishop’s flock, and caring for their spiritual and pastoral needs. These days, it means never becoming a permanent part of a parish community, but rather, being willing and able to move to a new community at your bishop’s request, after 6 or 12 years, or less! It means always being “on”, always being in the spotlight, always being at your flock’s beck and call. These days, it usually means being there for your people, but always going home to an empty rectory, and being able to handle living alone, without the kind of 24/7 support that religious communities embody. (It also means being taking responsibility for reaching out to your brother priests in the diocese, building relationships with them even when it’s inconvenient.)

Contrast that with the way a diocesan priest lives out his spiritual life, which is what I believe that you’re talking about. A word of caution here: I don’t know for sure, but it certainly seems to me that any organization that you join prior to entering seminary (Opus Dei, any Third Order community) will be something that the admissions committee takes into consideration when they make their admissions decisions. On the other hand, any organization that you join after entering seminary (and especially, after ordination) would be subject to obtaining the permission of your rector or bishop. (I’m not saying this with 100% certainty – but it sure seems like this is the case.) Just a word to the wise… :wink:

**Thank you so much!! That was helpful. :thumbsup:

I am considering joining the Third order with the Franciscans of the Immaculate as I love Franciscan spirituality, however I hope to meet with the Vocations Director of my Diocese once again (Hopefully this time for the Seminary applications) tommorrow and I will take this concern to Him regarding spirituality. I will see what he says. Again, I feel the most “fit” inside my Home Diocese after looking at everyone else, except for the Franciscans of the Immaculate, so I will fill the applications out and whatnot, but I would like to hold off a formal decisive descision until April/May. I also have in mind to visit one of the Friaries of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, hence the reason I am holding off until May. If I feel that despite my best tries that being a First order Franciscan is not for me, then I will choose my Home Diocese. I am glad to have finally worn the Discernment process down. The past few months/half year have been pretty stressful and I am relieved that now the choice won’t be as difficult, especially when I feel the scale already slightly tipping to one side. **

Asking an applicant for diocesan priesthood whether they’ve considered religious life is a standard question and it’s always good to be able to say that you’ve considered (and actively discerned) a vocation to a particular community.

There’s nothing wrong with a love for a particular spirituality without wanting to join the order associated with it. Personally, I have a thing for Benedictine spirituality but my vocation lies in the same direction as yours.

I guess one of the key things about diocesan priesthood is that its an individual vocation in the sense that you’re not part of a community unlike members of religious orders. So in that sense, there’s more freedom to pick and mix in the spirituality sense.

You should be aware though that the selection process for the diocesan seminary is likely to have been concluded (or at least most of the way along) by April / May. If you haven’t discussed your plans with the diocesan Vocations director yet, make sure you do.

As you can see I don’t generally reply to posts. However, when running a search for another thread this one was the first on my result list and since I have a little experience in a diocesan formation program I thought I might have something to add (God willing I’ll be ordained a priest sometime this June).

For starters, before one begins any process of formation it is good to investigate different options. So I commend you for discerning a vocation to the diocesan priesthood while also thinking about religious life.

That said there are significant differences in the types of spirituality practiced by secular priests and those bound to an order or congregation. There is such a thing as a spirituality of the diocesan priesthood. Its key feature is flexibility and thus it is a little hard to describe. Most scholars will say it closely resembles Ignatian spirituality but even this is not a perfect fit. It is a spirituality that requires personal discipline (since we have no rule to follow), it must contain a Marian component. But ultimately it is Eucharistic centered. For a very full understanding of the spirituality of a diocesan priest I’d recommend Quickening the Fire in Our Midst: The Challenge of Diocesan Priestly Spirituality by Fr. George Ashenbrenner.

All orders, whatever their particular charism, are founded on the need for community. Thus there is a stability in religious life (even in the third orders) that is not present in the diocesan priesthood. They also emphasize a particular aspect of the life of Christ to live and follow as their charism. Diocesan priests are generally called to participate in the fullness of the life of Christ (have a small share in all charisms) which is based upon the diocese in which you are incarnated and in the parish or ministry where you are called to serve.

Diocesan priests are free per the decree for priestly life and ministry to join religious movements and third orders. It does bring a richness to their priesthood and their personal lives. However, from my experience in the seminary most of the third orders will not accept a man who is a diocesan seminarian until several years after ordination. I have seen exceptions but in general they want a man to have a full understanding of his identity as a priest in his diocese before he begins to focus his spirituality according to a particular tradition.

I wish I could write more but I’m doing this during a break from writing my thesis. Hopefully what I’ve added here is helpful and please keep in mind I speak from my own experience of seven years in a formation program (all at one seminary).

Oh, I would recommend that if you are planning to enter seminary formation next fall it might be good to talk to your vocations director. Most dioceses and seminaries will accept men up to a month before the start of the fall term however, entering into formation is a stressful time and the earlier you can finish the application process the better.

Thank You Deacon!!

I hope the SACRED HEART Blesses Your future ministry as a Priest!!!

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