Today’s Religious Priest

Life in a religious order is about intent. The priests and brothers in my community choose to live, pray, work, and play together as a gospel witness to the world of commitment to God, the Church, and each other. The support I receive from my brothers enhances my ability to live out my vocation as a Franciscan priest and teaches me about the selfless love of Christ upon the cross.” (Fr. David Kaczmarek, TOR)

“As a member of a missionary order, I enjoy being part of a worldwide family of men committed to preaching the good news. From Tanzania to Guatemala to Orlando, the Precious Blood missionaries, although greatly diverse, are still one brotherhood.” (Fr. Ben Berinti, C.Pp.S.)

“September 15, 2007 our founder, Father Basil Moreau, was beatified. His vision continues in apostolates in academia, parish ministry and the missions. I am bonded with these religious in our common call to live the mission of service.” (Fr. Robert Brennan, CSC)

Religious Priest – FAQ

What Are the Personal Qualities Needed to Live as a Religious Priest?

A heart full of love and a deep need to make a difference in the world through service! A man called to serve God as a member of a religious community has the capacity to live in community with others who share the same dream. He is able, gradually, to learn to live the life of the vows: chaste love (chastity ), simplicity and non-possessiveness (poverty),) and accountability (obedience to God and his elected superiors.) The spiritual vision of the founder of his community (ex: St. Ignatius Loyola for the Jesuits) speaks to him of a particular way to live a gospel-centered life. He is open to the call to mission and willing to be sent where he is most needed.

Do Communities Have Age and Health Requirements for Candidates?

Religious communities have varying age guidelines, but generally speaking membership is open to men 18 – 50. Men who wish to live in religious community must be single (with a church annulment if divorced), with good physical, mental and emotional health.

Will I Be Permitted to Maintain my Friendships and Family Bonds if I Enter a Religious Community?

Certainly! These are often the very relationships which have supported your vocation. They deserve the best you can offer them. The healthy balance between community commitments and family ties is something that new members in a community struggle to forge and maintain throughout their lives as religious.

What are the Differences between Religious Order Priests and Diocesan Priests?

Religious Order Priests – Priests who are members of a religious order are community men. They choose to live out their lives within the structure of the vows and community life, while pursuing a ministry of loving service which flows out of the particular charism of their community (care for the poor, healing, education, media, foreign missions, etc.). As community members they elect their superiors who then send them to missions where they are best suited and most needed. Many religious communities have an option for missions world-wide.

Religious priests celebrate the Mass and administer the sacraments. Their daily Mass and prayer in community support their call to religious life and their total commitment to the service of the gospel.

Diocesan Priests – Diocesan priests are ordained for ministry in a particular diocese, with accountability to the Bishop of that diocese. They are men of prayer, obedient to their bishop. Their ministries are dictated by the call of their Bishop and the needs of their diocese. The vast majority of diocesan priests serve as parish priests, which encompasses hospital visitation, family counseling, youth activities, and parish organization. At the heart of their commitment to Christ is the celebration of daily Mass and administration of the sacraments.

Diocesan priests do not ordinarily live in community situations and must be capable of living on their own. This vocation is demanding since there is no community with which to pray, outside the celebration of Mass and sacraments, unless the priests form one for this purpose. Often a priest will say, “My parish is my community.” Diocesan priests are encouraged by their Bishops to form strong relationships with their brother priests for prayer, sharing, support, and relaxation.

Are There Monastic and Cloistered Religious Communities for Men Who Feel Drawn to Priesthood?

Monks are laymen who are called to live in monastic (enclosed) communities. They are community members in a religious community dedicated to a particular style of spirituality (ex: Benedictine, Trappist). A man is accepted into a monastery for life. No matter how many times he may be sent out briefly, his initial monastery will always be his home.

A monastery schedule includes more hours of silence and community prayer than are commonly found in apostolic communities. The hours of ministry are wrapped around the firm monastic schedule of prayer, silence, work, meals, relaxation, and rest. There exists a variety of monastic styles, some quite strict, others less so. A small number of monks are ordained to priesthood to serve their communities.

What is the Process for Becoming a Priest in a Religious Order?

Inquirer – Faithful prayer, rooted in complete openness to God’s will, is the starting point of a man’s discernment. Seeking information about religious communities may take him to vocation periodicals, the web, friends, and family. But the most reliable source will be religious men with whom he can discuss his hopes and anxieties. If no religious priests live in his area, phone conversations and email can be very helpful for information-gathering at this point.

When the Inquirer finds a community spirit / charism with which he feels a connection, he asks to visit and pray with the members as frequently as possible. When the time is right, and the community vocation director encourages him, he may ask for acceptance into the spiritual formation program.

Candidate – During this period of one or two years, he may live in a local community, praying and ministering with the members, and receiving spiritual direction, and learning the history of the community.

Novice – The novice immerses himself in the spiritual traditions of his chosen community. He studies theology, philosophy, prayer, religious life, and community history and traditions. He continues spiritual direction and participates in community ministries.

Profession of Vows – At the close of his one / two year novitiate, a novice may request permission to profess vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. These vows expire at the close of one year, and must be renewed if the man wishes to retain his membership in the community. At the close of the period of initial profession, he may profess his perpetual vows in the community.

Ordination – A religious priest is ordained according to the tradition of his community. He may minister in a parish at the request of a Bishop, or in any of a wide variety of missions which lie within the context of his community mission / charism (education, justice work, etc.)

Who Should I Talk With About My Interest in Becoming a Religious Order Priest?

Start with your closest friends whom you think will be open to understanding your desires for union with God and service for others. Talk with your parents, your pastor, and the vocation director of the communities in whom you are interested.

Today’s Religious Brother

“I joined my community of Brothers because I wanted to live in a community of like-minded people who share the same spirit – the charism of our founder.” (Brother Augustine Lowe, CP)

“What I love about being a Brother is the opportunity to serve the Church and the people of God. As a Brother, I’m not held down to one thing, but I’m available for many roles of service.” (Brother Gerard Despathy, FPM)

For the past 32 years, my life as a Brother has been enriched by the people I’ve met and worked with. As a Brother, I believe God has stretched me to try and accomplish things I would never have attempted otherwise. Working with students in our Catholic schools today gives me hope for the future of the Church.” (Brother Peter Zawot, CFC)

Religious Brother – FAQ

What is a Religious Brother and Why Do Some Men Feel Called to this Vocation?

A Brother is a man committed to living the Consecrated Life in response to a call from God. As a male religious, he is a lay Christian committed to Christ and the Christian community through vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. He becomes a member of a religious brotherhood with elected leadership, based on a particular spirituality (ex: Passionist, Redemptorist, LaSalette). The promise of a community prayer life and extensive opportunities for a wide variety of ministries encourage acceptance of this call.

What are the Differences between a Religious Priest and a Religious Brother?

Religious priests and religious brothers share much as members of a religious community. Both live a community life and share in the spiritually of their founder.
Religious priests are called to the celebration of Mass, the administration of the other sacraments, and often the administration of a parish. Religious Brothers are called to other ministries: care of the sick and poor, education, health care, journalism, fine arts, and justice works. A brother may profess perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but will not choose to be ordained.

What Personal Qualities are Needed in a Religious Brother?

A love for God and a dedication to the life of the gospel! A Brother is a person of truth and zeal. He sincerely wishes to minister with others as “servant.” He is attracted to a life in a prayerful community and sincerely loves others in faith. He is able to channel his natural desires for family and children into a loving service, and finds his greatest fulfillment there.

Do Communities Have Guidelines about Age and Health for Acceptance as a Brother?

Yes, they do. The best way to become familiar with these guidelines is to write, email or call the communities in whom you are interested. These guidelines vary widely from one community to another.

Is a Brother Encouraged to Maintain His Bonds With Family and Friends?

Definitely! Some changes will certainly take place, as his commitment to his community deepens and his time for sharing with family and friends may become shortened, but a Brother’s family becomes part of the larger family of the community, thus enriching the lives of his family and the community itself.

Are there Brothers Who Live a Monastic or Cloistered Life in Community?

Yes, there are. Benedictine Brothers, for example, live a monastic lifestyle. They remain members of their original monastery for their lifetimes. Their daily schedule is a monastic one, with ministry fitted into the schedule for community prayer. Silence plays a greater part in their lives than in an apostolic Brother’s life (ex: Presentation Brother).

Some Brothers are monks (Trappists) who live an enclosed lifestyle. They do not leave the monastery grounds except in special circumstances. Their work, prayer, and recreation occur on their monastery grounds. They may produce crops, food products (cheese, bread, wine) or make altar breads or vestments to support the community.

What is the Process for Becoming a Religious Brother?

The spiritual formation process for a man who is called to serve as a Religious Brother has several stages and may last 3 – 9 years.

Inquirer- Faithful prayer, rooted in complete openness to God’s will, is the starting point of a man’s discernment. Seeking information about religious communities may take him to vocation periodicals, the web, friends, and family. But the most reliable source will be religious Brothers with whom he can discuss his hopes and anxieties. If no religious Brothers live in his area, phone conversations and email can be very helpful for information-gathering at this point.

When the Inquirer finds one community’s spirit / charism with which he feels a connection, he asks to visit and pray with the members as frequently as possible. When the time is right, and the community vocation director encourages him, he may ask for acceptance into the spiritual formation program.

Candidate – During one / two years as a Candidate, a man may live in a local community, praying, ministering with the members, receiving spiritual direction, learning the history of the community, and learning to enjoy being a community member.

Novice- The novice immerses himself in the spiritual traditions of his chosen community. He studies theology, philosophy, prayer, religious life, and community history and traditions. He continues spiritual direction and participates in community ministries.

Profession of Vows – At the close of his one / two year novitiate, a novice may request permission to profess vows of p poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows expire at the close of one year, and must be renewed if the man wishes to retain his membership in the community. At the close of the period of initial profession, a Brother may profess his perpetual vows in the community.

Who Should I Talk With About My Interest in Becoming a Religious Brother?

Start with your closest friends whom you think will be open to understanding your desires for union with God and service for others. Talk with your parents, your pastor, and the vocation director of the communities in which you are interested.