Vocation and Canon Law


I feel I am being called to a vocation to the Priesthood and have a interest in Canon Law and Liturgy . I was wondering if there is a particular order that is more involved in the study of Canon Law and Liturgy.


After you are ordained a priest, you may be sent to study a specific subject further. This is entirely up to your Bishop. It is not guaranteed. If you excel in one subject or another and your Bishop recognizes this, he may choose to do so, if he has need of someone with an education in those subjects.

It is important to realize that the vocation of priesthood is one of great honor, it is one of obedience. In your discernment, if you find that your calling towards priesthood is stronger than your interest in liturgy or canon law, I’d say that’s a very good indicator of your call.

Have faith that, if you follow through and pursue the priesthood, your Bishop will be guided to send you for further education (if that’s in God’s plan).


You can express an interest in studying a particular area of theology but you bishop could ask you to study some other area or not go for further study at all. When you are ordained you make a promise (or a vow if you become a religious) so you may not have any choice.


From my experience, the priests who usually study Canon law (up here at least) are diocesan priests, because a diocese always needs to have a couple of them around (for tribunal or chancellery work and such). There are also many laymen that study Canon law.

When it comes to liturgy, there are a few diocean priests who will do specialized study in liturgy (diocesan Master of Ceremonies and such). As or Orders, the Benedictines (monks) are well known for liturgical studies.


Any man seriously considering a vocation to the priesthood should have an interest in canon law and the liturgy, since they will rule most of his life. Therefore, they tend to be part of the general charism of the priesthood rather than the particular charism of different religious institutes. As others have noted, for diocesan priests, one’s bishop determines whether or not one studies canon law. Most large religious orders also contain a few canon lawyers; in this case, the religious superior decides whether or not a man will pursue higher studies in canon law. The Jesuits and Sulpicians have long traditions of teaching in seminaries and therefore contain a good number of canon lawyers.

Now for your other interest, the liturgy: most monastic orders (the Carthusians being a debatable exception) have an interest in the liturgy, since praying the Liturgy of the Hours and celebrating the Mass are the principle elements of their lives. Among the Benedictines, the Solesmes (French) congregation is quite interested in the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy and the monasteries of the English congregation tend to favor the “new liturgical movement.” The Swiss-American congregation has long been a bastion of the original liturgical movement, pioneering many of the changes instituted by the Second Vatican Council. However, there is a lot of variation from monastery to monastery.

Canons regular also tend to be very interested in the liturgy since they live together and pray together. You might want to look at the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and the Premonstratensians/Norbertines (particularly St. Michael’s Abbey in California). Finally, the Dominicans are a very liturgical order and are also known for their commitment to study. They still pray together and, like the Premonstratensians, Carthusians, Carmelites, and Cistercians, once had their own rite for the Mass (which is being revived in some provinces).

Finally, neither is technically an order, but the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago and the Oratorians tend to be interested in the liturgy.

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