How to Become a Catholic Priest

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Do you wonder how to become a catholic priest? Well, becoming a Catholic priest is a life-changing decision that takes years of training and dedication. It’s a call that requires commitment to the church and a desire to help others. You need to know the steps involved in becoming a Catholic priest, and how much time and effort it takes.

Here’s how to become a Catholic priest, including what you need to learn, train, and commit. We’ll cover everything from discerning a calling to entering seminary to getting ordained. Let’s talk together about the path to becoming a Catholic priest if you feel called to it and what it takes to serve the church community and God.

What are the different orders of catholic priest ranks?

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As you know, there are many priestly orders and congregations within the Catholic Church, each with its own unique charisms, spirituality, and mission, and here we will take a look at some of the more noteworthy orders and congregations.

Dominicans (Order of Preachers, O.P.)

There is an order called Dominicans, founded by Saint Dominic de Guzmán, that is known for its study, preaching, and education. Dominicans have been a significant contributor to philosophy and theology for many years.

Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor, O.F.M.)

Franciscans started out as a simple order, but grew up to focus on simplicity, poverty, and caring for marginalized people. Franciscans are characterized by their commitment to living in solidarity with the poor and the environment.

Jesuits (Society of Jesus, S.J.)

It has been over a century since Saint Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuits, a group known for their commitment to education, intellectual engagement, and missionary work. The Jesuits have had a huge influence on education over the years, and have founded dozens of colleges.

Benedictines (Order of St. Benedict, O.S.B.)

As an order that is founded by St. Benedict of Nursia, they focus their time on monastic life, prayer, work, and community. They follow the Rule of St. Benedict, which emphasizes balance and stability in their lives.

Carmelites (Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, O.Carm.)

With a background in contemplative prayer and the life of hermits on Mount Carmel, Carmelites strive for union with God through solitude and silence as a means of uniting with Him.

Augustinians (Order of St. Augustine, O.S.A.)

Based upon the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo, the Order of Saint Augustine of Hippo emphasizes community life, prayer, and parish, school, and other ministry service as part of its focus.

Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, C.Ss.R.)

The Redemptorists are a group of Catholics who were founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori, are known for their missionary work and retreats, particularly toward the poor and marginalized.

Salesians (Society of St. Francis de Sales, S.D.B.)

Salesians are a religious order dedicated to educating and forming the souls of young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, on the principles of Jesus Christ.

Missionaries of Charity (M.C.)

With the support of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, this congregation serves the poorest of the poor, cares for the sick and dying, and demonstrates God’s love through practical acts of compassion for those who are less fortunate.

Congregation of Holy Cross (C.S.C.)

There are many different forms of pastoral work that are carried out by this congregation, which was founded by Blessed Basil Moreau. However, it mainly focuses on education, especially in schools and colleges.

Paulist Fathers (Paulist Fathers, C.S.P.)

Hecker Order members are committed to engaging with modern society through media, dialogue, and outreach, such as mediation and public speaking, in order to engage with modern society and evangelize through the means of evangelization. 

How much does a catholic priest make?

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It is true that the salary of a Catholic priest is going to vary greatly depending on factors such as the location, the diocese or religious order’s policies, and the priest’s role in the church, but below is a general idea of what you can expect to see:

  • Diocesan Priests: It is possible for diocesan priests in some areas to receive a salary of $20,000 to $30,000 USD per year. However, in areas with higher living costs or wealthier diocesan priests can receive even more, potentially living up to $40,000 to $60,000 USD per year.
  • Religious Order Priests:As a result of their vows of poverty, often priests of religious orders do not receive a fixed salary. They receive basic necessities such as housing, food, and health care from their orders. Anyone who receives a personal stipend may receive a modest amount.
  • Missionary Priests: A missionary priest is likely to be supported by his religious order or mission organization. This support may range from covering basic living expenses to providing funding for specific missions-related needs such as medical expenses.

Remember that many priests don’t get their jobs because of money, but because of a deep sense of vocation and service to the community and God. Priests often live a simple, austere lifestyle and are more concerned with their ministry and spiritual responsibilities than making money.

What qualifications do you need to be a catholic priest?

It takes a special set of skills, both spiritually and practically, to become a Catholic priest. If you feel called to serve God and the Church, the journey to priesthood can be incredibly rewarding. Here’s a breakdown of the qualifications necessary to get a Catholic priest:

Spiritual Calling and Discernment

Getting a Catholic priest requires a strong spiritual calling. Prospective candidates should have a deep faith, a commitment to God, and a deep commitment to Catholic teaching. Usually, spiritual mentors help you discern this calling through prayer, reflection, and guidance.

Age Requirement

Usually, diocesan priests are between the ages of 25 and 40 at the time of ordination. In religious orders, the age ranges vary. Some dioceses and orders, however, may require candidates to be a little older to make sure they are emotionally and spiritually mature.

Education and Formation

You usually need a bachelor’s degree to get into seminary, but a degree in philosophy or theology is always a plus. There are typically two main stages to seminary training: the “Pre-Theology” stage, which covers philosophy and spiritual formation, and the “Theology” stage, which focuses on theology and pastoral training. In more specific cases:

  • Catholic Church: Catholic priest candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy or an associated discipline, and a master’s degree in theology. Anyone seeking to serve in the Church must complete several years of spiritual and pastoral formation, including supervised ministry experience, as a prerequisite.
  • Anglican Church: For ministerial roles within the Anglican Church, a Bachelor’s degree in theology or related fields is required. A Master of Divinity or Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree must be earned from an accredited seminary or theological school in order to be eligible for ordination within the Anglican Church.
  • Eastern Orthodox Church: Those seeking ordination in the Eastern Orthodox Church must hold a bachelor’s degree in theology or a comparable subject and have a Master of Divinity or Master of Theology. For these hopefuls to become clergy members within the Church, this educational requirement is necessary.

Character and Moral Integrity

For candidates to be considered for the priesthood, they must have a strong moral character as well as an integrity that is unblemished. They are assessed psychologically, interviewed, and have their background checked to ensure their suitability.

Health and Well-being

Having good physical and mental health is crucial for priests, since their roles involve demanding responsibilities, and they undergo a variety of medical examinations in order to ensure they are capable of fulfilling these roles.

Celibacy and Chastity

It is an important aspect of the priesthood that all Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy, which means that they commit to remain single and abstain from having any sexual relations. This vow mirrors the priest’s commitment to serving God and the church with their lives.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Besides being community leaders, priests serve as spiritual guides and are responsible for connecting with their parishioners, providing pastoral care, and delivering inspirational sermons that inspire and educate the congregation.

Leadership and Humility

The priest’s role is one of being both a spiritual leader and a humble servant of God, but also a leader who leads by example, makes important decisions, and works collaboratively with other priests.

Commitment to Ongoing Learning

Priests, as members of the congregation, are expected to engage in lifelong learning throughout their journey in the priesthood. They are expected to keep abreast of theological developments as well as pastoral practice, and to engage in lifelong learning.

Approval of Church Authorities

Church authorities determine a candidate’s suitability for the priesthood. After training in the seminary, candidates are ordained as deacons, and then ordained as priests after further evaluation.

What are the roles of a Catholic priest?

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In order to be an effective priest, it is essential not only to be competent, but also to be involved in many of the departments within the Church. Listed below are five key areas in which Catholic priests are involved:

Celebrating Mass and administering sacraments

The role of the priest is to lead worship services, especially when the Eucharist (Mass) is celebrated, as well as to administer the sacraments, such as baptisms, confirmations, reconciliations (confessions), anointings of the sick, and marriages.

Pastoral care

There are priests in the community who offer spiritual guidance and counseling to parishioners, serving as a source of comfort and guidance during times of need, as well as providing spiritual support.

Teaching and preaching

During the course of the Mass and by using other educational activities, priests teach their congregations the doctrine, scripture, and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Service to the community

There are many charitable and community activities that priests are involved in, helping to address social issues and promote social justice through initiatives such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and supporting the marginalized through their involvement in these activities.

Leadership and administration

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of their parish, priests are also responsible for managing religious education programs, organizing parish events, and collaborating with other clergy and lay people to ensure a vibrant faith community in their parish.

Note that these roles can vary to some extent depending on the specific needs of a parish and broader community that it serves, so it is important to keep this in mind.

What are the steps to become a catholic priest?

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As a Catholic priest, you go through a transformative and purposeful process that takes a lot of work. Here are a few distinct steps that guide you from discerning your calling to fulfilling your spiritual leadership role:

Step 1: Decide what you’re called to do

When you begin the journey to become a priest, you feel a stirring in your heart that may indicate that God is calling you to serve. The discovery of this calling is often made through prayer, reflection, guidance from mentors and spiritual directors. It is like hearing a whisper in your soul urging you to take this sacred path.

Step 2: Seek Guidance and Preparation

Once you feel the calling, seek guidance from your local parish priest, mentors, or spiritual director. This type of individual can offer you insights, help you navigate your feelings, and direct you towards the next steps. In the event that you feel a growing conviction, it’s time to begin preparing for the seminary program.

Step 3: Education and Formation in Seminary

You will be entering the seminary with a bachelor’s degree in hand, and you will be beginning your journey of personal, intellectual, and spiritual growth for the next two years. This journey will be divided into two main phases: Educating the Scholar, and Christian Formation, and Personal Formation, and Social Development & Health.

  • Pre-Theology: During this course, you will have the opportunity to delve into philosophy and receive foundational spiritual formation. It is a time of reflection, self-discovery, and building a solid spiritual foundation.
  • Theology: By the time you reach this level, you will have gained a deeper understanding of faith, doctrine, pastoral skills, and practical ministry which will equip you with the skills necessary to become an effective and compassionate shepherd of the church.

Step 4: Discernment and Ordination as a Deacon

As you progress in your theological studies, there comes a crucial point of discernment. You may be ordained as a transitional deacon as you advance in your studies. It is an opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience in pastoral care, thus solidifying your understanding of your call to serve in the parish. The seminary is a bridge between you and the priesthood at the end of the program.

Step 5: Ordination as a Priest

It is only after you have successfully completed your diaconal ministry and have demonstrated your readiness for priesthood that you will be ordained as a Catholic priest, the pinnacle of your journey. As you’re anointed and receive Holy Orders, a moment of profound spiritual significance occurs. It is conducted by a bishop as a culmination of years of prayer, learning, and growth.

Step 6: Begin Your Ministry

Your priestly ordination allows you to take on an entirely new role as a shepherd of souls. As a priest, you are responsible for delivering sacraments, providing spiritual guidance, leading the parish community, and assisting those in need. Your ministry encompasses a wide range of activities that you take part in every day as an ambassador of God’s love and teachings.

Step 7: Lifelong Learning and Service

It is important to remember that your journey as a priest does not end with ordination; it continues to evolve. You must remain abreast of technological advances, remain abreast of pastoral care and remain adaptable to the needs of your community. It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge that you continue to deepen your spiritual life and serve as an example of faith, hope, and compassion.

The path to becoming a Catholic priest involves faith, self-discovery, and service. It’s a journey where you transform from a seeker of God’s will to a lighthouse for others. The call you’re getting is to serve as a bridge between heaven and earth, guiding souls on their journeys to God as they go through these steps.

What does a Catholic priest do?

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Church and community depend on Catholic priests for a variety of reasons. Priests don’t just lead liturgical ceremonies; they’re responsible for a lot more spiritual, pastoral, and practical duties too. Here are some things a Catholic priest does:

1. Celebrating Sacraments:


It is the responsibility of priests to preside over the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass). The Eucharist is a celebration in which bread and wine are consecrated into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.


In addition to spiritual guidance, they offer absolution through confession.

Anointing of the Sick:

When a priest administers this sacrament to a sick person or to a person struggling with serious health issues, the intent is to comfort and heal them spiritually.

Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage:

Individuals and couples can go through these sacraments with the guidance of priests, guiding them in their faith journeys.

2. Pastoral Care:

Spiritual Guidance:

People seeking advice on matters of faith, morals, and coping with the challenges of life seek the counsel, orientation, and support of priests.


It is their mission to provide comfort, prayer, and sacraments to the sick, elderly, and those who are housebound.

Grief Support:

When someone is grieving or experiencing loss, priests provide spiritual solace and comfort to the bereaved.

3. Preaching and Teaching:


During Mass, priests deliver sermons (homilies) that provide insights into Scripture, offer guidance for daily life, and inspire the congregation.

Religious Education:

Through classes, workshops, and discussions, priests educate parishioners about Catholic teachings, traditions, and the Bible in the Catholic Church.

4. Community Building:

Parish Leadership:

As part of their responsibilities as parish leaders, priests guide and coordinate the various ministries, activities, and events that take place in the parishes they serve.


To help those in need, they promote charitable endeavors, participate in community service, advocate for social justice, and advocate for the setting up of social services.

5. Sacramental Preparation:


During the preparation process for receiving sacraments, priests ensure that individuals understand the significance of each sacrament, as well as the responsibilities and goals associated with it.

Marriage Preparation:

Engaged couples are guided through the wedding preparation process, within which they learn the unique nature of marriage as a sacrament.

6. Special Celebrations:

Liturgical Seasons:
Church liturgical seasons are observed by priests and communities through special ceremonies and traditions, like Advent, Lent, and Easter.

Feast Days:

Their responsibility is to organize and lead celebrations to mark feast days of saints and other significant events in the Church calendar.

7. Evangelization:

Missionary Work

Some priests engage in missionary activities, spreading the Gospel and Catholic teachings to communities in need, both locally and globally.

Interfaith Dialogue

Using dialogue and collaboration as a means of fostering understanding and cooperation between different religious communities is one of their main objectives.

8. Administration and Leadership:

Parish Administration

It is the priest’s responsibility to oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish, to manage the finances, and to collaborate with the staff and volunteers.

Decision Making

In their roles within the parishes and dioceses, they play a significant role in the making of important decisions, contributing to the governing system within the Church as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much does a retired catholic priest make

Depending on factors like years of service, location, and diocese or religious order, retired Catholic priests can get a different pension and benefits. In the United States, priests retire with a pension that ranges from about $20,000 to $35,000 a year on average. Factors like the cost of living in their area, the financial health of their diocese, and any additional support they might get can affect this amount.

  1. Can anyone be a Catholic priest?

Priesthood is open to everyone, but there are some requirements and discernment processes. To become a priest, you need to:

  • Be a baptized and practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church.
  • If you wish to be ordained as a priest, you must be a man, as the Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests.
  • Undergo a thorough discernment process, which includes psychological evaluations, interviews, and spiritual direction.
  • Complete the required education and formation in a seminary.

It is through the discernment process that a person can determine whether they possess the qualities and vocation necessary to serve as a priest.

  1. Can one become a priest without a college degree?

If you want to become a priest, you need a college degree. Some orders or dioceses might accept candidates without a college degree in exceptional circumstances, but it’s rare. There’s a lot to learn in seminary: philosophy, theology, pastoral training, and personal formation.

Each case is unique, so people considering priesthood should speak to a spiritual director or their local diocese about it. The emphasis is on forming well-educated and spiritually prepared priests who can effectively serve the Church and its members.

4. How long does it take to become a priest?

Becoming a priest can take different amounts of time depending on the church and type of priest. In the Roman Catholic Church, it usually takes 6 to 8 years after getting a bachelor’s degree. This includes 4 years of studying philosophy or a related subject and then 2 to 4 more years of studying theology and getting practical training in a seminary.

For diocesan priests, it’s generally 6 to 8 years, depending on whether they already have a bachelor’s degree. They follow a similar path of 4 years of philosophy or related studies and 2 to 4 years of theology and practical training in a seminary.

On the other hand, becoming a religious priest usually takes longer. You can’t become one until you’ve taken final vows within your religious order. This means spending extra time learning about the order’s unique beliefs and practices. As a result, it often takes more time than the usual process for diocesan priests.