Priests Working Part-Time, Short-Term

There is no such thing as a part-time Catholic priest: the sacramental character of Holy Orders is permanent. However, a … Continued

There is no such thing as a part-time Catholic priest: the sacramental character of Holy Orders is permanent. However, a priest can work part-time in ministry, and that may prove a solution to the lack of priests.

Working part-time is not something new: as long as I can remember, priests who taught in high schools or who sat at desks in the chancery during the week celebrated Mass on weekends. That idea can be enhanced by a little twist. Why not expand the pool of priests by ordaining men for a definite period of time, say 7 year tours of ministry? It might be that celibacy would be accepted by more if it were not a life-long commitment. There could also be recruitment of new clergy from those who are married, but whose children are grown. Of course, if celibacy were not required, the largest standing reservoir of priests working part-time would be the Church’s married deacons, and they could become the weekend priests.

The dilemma for parishes would be steady management. If the clergy work during the week in schools and offices, who is left to man the fort at the rectory Monday through Friday? Providentially, just as the Eastern Churches have the tradition of married priests, the Latin American Church has the experience of letting lay persons manage many aspects of the ministry. My late father-in-law, for instance, was a rezador. In the mountains of his native Puerto Rico, he went from house to house to lead a prayer service, especially at times of sickness or death. He had memorized many of the sanctioned prayers, understood the catechism very well and had a clear singing voice to command respect. When he could not address a specific need, he would refer people to the parish priest in the town. This was how lay ministry served Catholicism in a priest-poor country.

When don Benito migrated like so many other Puerto Ricans to New York City in the 1950s, he and his daughters continued their ministry to their compatriots. In a U.S. city where only a limited number of priests spoke Spanish, lay people took up the slack by preparing children and parents for the sacraments, visiting homes to bring piety and catechism. In her award-winning book, Oxcart Catholicism on Fifth Avenue, don Benito’s daughter showed how these Latino traditions — once necessitated because of the homeland’s lack of priests — eventually have become a model for all of US Catholicism, whether Spanish-speaking or not.

Training would be the major problem for ordaining priests working part-time. Would the equivalent of 4 years of study for the ministry make a 7 to 10 year ministry too long of a commitment? Would it be better to start with a married deacon in ministry, then choose the best of these for priestly ordination for part-time apostolate? It may also be time to consider inviting back to ministry priests who resigned 10 or 20 years ago in order to get married. They are already trained, and if married men would be accepted into the priesthood, many of them provide willing volunteers. As vexing as these questions may be, the increase in the number of priests would seem to be worth the risks. It would help chase the 800-pound gorilla from the sanctuary.

  • Proud Catholic

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with this writer. Not all Archdiocese’s are the same. Many are very strong in the U.S. and don’t suffer from a lack of priests able to fullfill their priestly ministry and administration of the sacraments.The parishes that suffer are in Archdiocese’s that have poor leadership. And that starts at the top with the Bishop or Archbishop. The most important item to strengthen the Church in the U.S. is develop strong Bishops who can lead, manage, and inspire.There is a whole cadre of men, many who are older seeking second career vocations who are applying to the seminaries from all over the country. There is a role for the lay ministry certainly, and it was articulate well in the Vatican II documents regarding the role of the lay ministry.But before we go in different directions, let’s first try to strengthen the apostolic ministry, the priests will follow.

  • DoTheRightThing

    Temporary priests – what a great idea, Anthony, especially for those who consider their Faith a part-time matter (1 hour on Sunday – maybe) anyway! We’ve already done something similar to this in the US of A: between the 50 percent divorce rate and spousal infidelity, we already have incorporated temporary/part-time marriage into our culture. That’s certainly improved our way of life – NOT! I’d suggest the RC Church teach its children and adults more seriously about the Faith – you’d find the vocations to the priesthood corresponingly rising, because the people would take it more seriously.

  • Ryan Haber

    I agree with the previous two posters, although not entirely with their tenor.Mr. Stevens-Arroyo, I think you understand the shortage backwards. It is most definitely not on Sundays when priests are most vexed, although, those are busy days. But think about it, in a parish with 1000 registered families, about half of whom attend Mass each Sunday, you would need to have say 3 Masses each weekend. And if some of the irregular attendees arrive, nothing is lost and there is literally no extra labor (except perhaps at the Communion of the Faithful). But, now in that same parish, where only 500 families attend regularly, contribute substantially to the common purse, volunteer from time to time, let alone even think about teaching their children about religious vocations, there are 1000 who want the personalized services of a priest at baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Each of these “packages” of service (instruction, preparation of the liturgy, home visits, etc.) can require 20 or 30 hours of time – especially weddings. ESPECIALLY weddings. And the kicker is that the 500 who don’t attend or contribute need MORE attention because of their poor religious instruction to date. There are arguments about why Led Zeppelin cannot be played in church (I am not kidding here) and whether the godparents must be baptised Christians themselves. These people, without the consolation of faith or the interpersonal health of good moral living very often have more difficult family situations to work out at these times.And Mother Church, ever mindful of her children, and especially her wayward or delinquent children, does her best to oblige. But she is sorely taxed by the effort in the persons of her priests and parish staff.As of right now, we have more vocations per practicing Catholic than ever before. The problem is that we have more non-practicing Catholics than ever before as well, as many as there are practicing. If the faith of these non-practicing Catholics was roused, they would begin to contribute (most importantly) religious vocations.The sorely taxed priests have enough on their plates. My parish, St. Martin of Tours in Gaithersburg, MD, outside of Washington DC, has just under 5000 families, 5000 people at 11 Masses every weekend, and 3 priests with 3 deacons to assist them.But increasingly, parishes make use of lay volunteers to do what need not be done by a priest in particular. My sister, for instance, brings the Blessed Sacrament to the homebound and the hospitalized, reading the week’s Scripture readings with them, praying with them, and then, most importantly, sharing with them our Lord’s Body. Some preparation and experience in listening sympathetically, encouraging in our Christian hope, and personal relation have been all she needed to do the job. The lay volunteers thus employed are instructed to ask each communicant whether he or she would like to be anointed or to make a confession – tasks that require a priest. And one of the priests will see any longterm patients or infirm every month or so regardless.Mr. Stevens-Arroyo’s idea is similarly employed in the management of my parish’s soup kitchen, food dispensary, social service office, school, religious education program, and more.Actually, come to think of it, we would be well advised to seek and receive training for more folks to work as missionary catechists – going door to door even, inviting fallen away Catholics to come back home, and even building outward from there. I am not envisioning anything obnoxious here – no preaching or pushing, just a simple invitation – once.So many people think that they have heard the Good News and decided it was lame. Every time I’ve seriously engaged one of them, it turns out that they’d been scandalized by a very bad messenger (yardstick-weilding cranky old nuns figure heavily in such stories) or else they actually never even heard our experience; or both.Good idea, Mr. Stevens-Arroyo! I mean, except for the weekend or short-term priest part. The rezador part is good. The rest of it is kinda half-baked. Cutting down formation to make it feasible for a shortened career expectancy hardly seems prudent. Imagine all the scandals a bunch of half-trained ninnies would cause! That was exactly the sort of formation being given priests during the period after the Plague until the Reformation. See where that got us? Lolol. Plus, I know a couple men who defected from the priesthood, and even reconciled to the Church but released from their ministry, people who know them have a hard time not thinking of them as “Father”.Imagine a weekend dad, or a man signing on for a seven year paternity career. Someone online has commented on that already.By the way, in the West and in most of the world, seminarians undergo formation for 4-6 years, full time, 24 hours daily in a live-in facility – AFTER finishing college. I’m not sure where Mr. Stevens-Arroyo got 4 years from.

  • Married but Not a Priest

    There are married Roman Catholic priests today. No, I don’t mean priests who have left the priesthood to be married. I mean priests in other Christian faiths, who got married, then converted to Catholicism, hence becoming married Roman Catholic priests. There are about 100 of them in the USA today.A Google search for “married Catholic priests” turns up many relevant links, such as:

  • Moved from DC Catholic

    I agree that the priest shortage is partly due to a lack of leadership. The idea of “vocation” is frequently seen as a very mysterious thing. If I had to assign duties, I’d say that cultivating new clergy should be more straightforward, and a specific duty to a priest. He should be highly encouraged to find his replacement. I was recruited as a teen, in the late 1960s. We went on a few trips, and visited a seminary. But, we never really found out what a priest really did. I lived in the Archdioces of Washington for many years, and have just moved away. The new Diocese is closing parishes, where Washington is opening them. It’s very depressing to hear TV from my diocese and the adjacent one discussing closures. A source of priests is certainly retired men. After working in a professional position and after raising a family, I’m probably better able to minister than someone who is much younger. A man of 30, who is supposed to be celebate, has a very narrow life experience. Of course, married priests is a very good idea. The Orthodox Christians and many of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church have married clergy. The Roman Rte does not allow married priests, except under very narrow rules. Suppressing ones sexuality is not a good thing. I’d suggest a 100 year “test” to try it out. The Canon Law could be amended for a 100 year trial. I’m sure married priests would work out fine. In 100 years, the review would fully endorse keeping married priests.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    The idea of a part-time priest makes sense. A priest who works in another profession (as most Jesuit priests are trained to do) and carries on the work of a priest on a part-time basis would ease the pressure of money to support their religious vocation. The idea of a short-term priest doesn’t make practical sense. Catholic priests are trained like other professionals over several years, and rightly so. A short-term practice does not make the investment of time and money in training them worthwhile.It is better to consider the priesthood a noble profession and set professional standards for all priests to abide by than treat it like God’s calling alone and unwittingly instill in them illusions of infallibility and unaccountability. Jesus expected a righteousness far above that of Pharisees from His followers. A righteous parish priest who does good works and takes care of his Every calling in life is God’s calling. Even cleaner is doing God’s work. It is better for a cleaner to treat his job as a calling from God and do it as well as he can following the rules of cleaning in doing his job. And for the priest it should be the other way around, by treating his calling like a noble profession.

  • Paganplace

    Hey, great. Why shouldn’t them with billions in gold and real estate have day jobs, too? 🙂

  • Paganplace

    Wait a minute… You know what this kind of talk leads to…Outsourcing.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    A part-time priest means that it would be necessary for several priests to do the job of one full-time priest. That is better than having no priests at all and having to shut down parishes.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Allowing priests to marry, allowing the priests who left for the sake of marriage to return, ordaining women, including allowing women to marry, are all options open to the Catholic Church since it has been tried out in other Christian denominations and has worked.The role of a priest representing a spiritual role must not be gender defined. If the role of a priest is to be that of a shepherd towards his sheep (the analogy Jesus used so often) what has the gender to do with the relationship the shepherd has with the sheep? The role of a priest should not be given sexual connotations. As human beings it is our genderless spirit that relates to a genderless God who is Spirit and the Creator of all genders. Lay professionals carry out their duties without making gender the criterion in the fulfillment of their duty. Why should not that be the case with priesthood?The difficulties are merely of a practical nature, for a woman the time needed to bear children and invest time in raising them etc. But if other Christian denominations have shown the way to work out the details, the Catholic Church only needs to learn from them. The only difference would be that celibacy would continue to be an option in Catholicism and it would be treated as an equally special, but more selfless calling, one that is freely chosen as first choice and not as a difficult alternative to not being a priest.

  • zantine Catholic

    I went to a retreat in Uniontown, Fayette Co, PA where the priest came from Pittsburgh with his wife & children. He has always been a Catholic, a Byzantine Rite, Ukranian Church, Catholic. My many Roman Catholic friends just can’t get their brains around this. There are (depending on to whom you speak) 22 to 29 Catholic churches under the auspices of the Pope of Rome. Look outside to the other rites to see how we handle these problems. Many of us will be surprised. Vivat Iesus!

  • Rose

    I think if we knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament and asked for good vocations we may be very much surprised at how the vocations will come. Jesus said, “Ask the Father in my name and he will give it to you.” Have we forgotten the right way to ask? We need to get back to tradition and get on our knees and a whole lot more will change!

  • Maureen Brady

    These conversations are mute. If you know the rules of the Catholic faith, then you know that a Catholic Priest is celebate and not married. No one has the right to change that. The only priests that are married are priests from other religions that left and came to the Catholic faith and were already a priest and married. Being celebate is a gift to our Lord from our priests. These truths cannot just be changed because a poll of people have decided it would be better a different way. Our priests are very special,holy men and they are different than you or me or the guy next door. They are chosen by Our Lord to be priests, they are not the ones that came up with the idea, they just say yes to our Lord. I come to church to watch and listen to a Holy man of God dedicated to Our Lord and the Catholic Church, not a part time priest that delivers pizza’s on the side. DEDICATED TO OUR LORD AND OUR CATHOLIC CHURCH. A dedicated priest is so busy there is no time for anything else other than his job of taking care of his parishiners and spreading the Word of God. There is no room for a priest to have to check with his wife or children before he assists his flock. If a parish has a very holy priest it almost always has no problem with vocations.

  • Don

    When we talk about Eastern Orthodox priests who are married, Eastern Rite Catholic priest who are married, and members of other faiths who convert to Catholicism and become priests it is important to remember that all of them were married before they were ordained. Celibacy is a discipline so in theory it could be changed provided a man was married before he became a priest. 1580 In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry.

  • Fr. Reilly

    As a priest myself I find this article both humorous and infuriating. It is the former because Holy Orders leaves an indelible character on the Soul that forever makes the man “Alter Christus” (another Christ). So even if he leaves the active ministry he is still a priest. Our Blessed Lord was not a “part time priest” he is the Eternal High Priest, in whose authority all ordained priests share. This article is infuriating because it indicates a complete lack of understanding as to what the Apostolate of priesthood entails. I spent 9 years in my training for priesthood and I still am learning new things everyday! While it is true that the Byzantine Rites of the Church and the Orthodox Church allow for married men to be ordained what is the size of the average parish and does it allow time for the couple? Those parishes are generally much smaller than the size of the average Latin Rite parish. How could I possibly be devoted to my wife and children and 1000’s of parishioners at the same time? I can tell you from my experience of “working” 10,12,14 hour days-one party would suffer. Another issue that is rarely thought of is housing. Most rectories are not made to accomodate 2 or 3 familes, but 2 or 3 priests. Are our people willing to provide extra money in the collection to provide a living wage so we priests can raise and support our families? (Many parishes have a difficult time simply paying the bills let alone giving the priest a salary to support a family) What of the pressures larger parishes place on priests and thus the family? Can a marriage withstand a priest being pastor or assistant to 10,000 people in one parish? What of the scandal of divorce in the priesthood? The above notwithstanding, vocations are flourishing in Africa & Poland among other places. A vocational shortage is not even an issue in all of the United States. And by the way, how many priests have been aborted because of a “choice”? As for womens ordination, it is a “non sequitur” (not to mention the issued was closed forever by John Paul II in “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis”. What we need is to get back to the basics (orthodox bishops who promote the True Faith and stop watering things down to the lowest common denominator, would help as well). We need the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to elevate us to God instead of dragging Him down to some banal celebration where Father tells us of his golf game in the homily or dresses up like the Easter Bunny at the Vigil and hops down the isle. Finally, we need the bishops (and laity) to support and nuture the priests we have! As others before me, I have recently been thrown under the bus by my diocese and my bishop who refuses to confront those who are heterodox and staff members who launch broadsides against me in public. When I, or my brother priests, confront CCD or RCIA instructors for teaching a watered down version of the Faith (if not outright heretical) they complain to the pastor or bishop and I(we) get called on the carpet! Many orthodox(faithful) priests are sent off for psychiatric evaluations because they are deemed “too rigid” when in reality they are faithful. When we resist promoting or using yoga, the cosmic way or zen buddhism we get told we are closed minded. Until we get true shepherds in place of these CEO types who wish to please everyone(except their priests), and build a consensus(insteading of being an Apostle), we will continue to struggle! In the mean time, pray to the Holy Spirit to give us truly wonderful bishops and kneel before Our Blessed Lord begging Him for more priests and to comfort His priests who are filled with doubts, feel abandoned, & are persecuted for being faithful!

  • ed

    I’m always amazed at the vitriol spewed by those who disagree with the columnist’s ideas. Moreover, often it is cloaked with words such as ‘Holy Mother Church’ or ‘Magisterium’ to attempt to make the comments sound authoratative and thus, proper. The columnist is correct; it’s an excellent idea. We need more people offering suggestions on how to deal with problem, lack of priests, that exists in nearly every diocese in the USA, except that of one of the writers above. Most men don’t want to take a vow of celibacy. It is not essential to being a priest. A priesthood based on recruiting older men is not what we need to lead the church in the years ahead. We need energetic, sexually mature, normal, devoted men who seek to fulfill a special calling.

  • ed

    I’m always amazed at the vitriol spewed by those who disagree with the columnist’s ideas. Moreover, often it is cloaked with words such as ‘Holy Mother Church’ or ‘Magisterium’ to attempt to make the comments sound authoratative and thus, proper. The columnist is correct; it’s an excellent idea. We need more people offering suggestions on how to deal with problem, lack of priests, that exists in nearly every diocese in the USA, except that of one of the writers above. Most men don’t want to take a vow of celibacy. It is not essential to being a priest. A priesthood based on recruiting older men is not what we need to lead the church in the years ahead. We need energetic, sexually mature, normal, devoted men who seek to fulfill a special calling.

  • Joe NH

    Thank You Fr. Reilly for your dedication and your vocation. The support or our priests is key. Pray for vocations to come to where they are needed.

  • mascmen7

    We live on Anglican converted priests who are married with families and it has been no problem. Send recruiters to UK to get more of them. Parishioners have never made one comment on having married former Anglican priests and money has not been a problem as the Lord always provides.

  • Belloc

    The priest shortage is due to one thing: the Novus Ordo.Get rid of it, restore the Traditional Mass as the single “form” of the Roman rite, and you’ll have priests. Simple as that.

  • Ryan Haber

    Black Saint,You mention Latinos as “educating hating,” by which one assumes you mean “education hating.” The quality of grammar in your post indicates that you also have an aversion to education.

  • Fr. Reilly

    I am just curious as to what vitriol “Ed” is condemning? Can we not have an intelligent discussion using correct terminology and citing the documents of the Church? Surely, we all need to recruit vocations and develop new ideas to accomplish this — but not at the expense of undermining what the priest essential is — another Christ. While celibacy is a discipline that can be changed we ought not rush to dispose of that which has been practiced since at least the 300’s! We ought not dispose of that which allows our priests to more perfectly imitate Christ the High Priest. I am not aware of any diocese recruiting older men to serve. In fact the opposite is happening. Perhaps if our culture was not so materialistic and sex crazed more men would hear the call of the Lord. Perhaps if more parents would offer a positive view of the priesthood and be more supportive we would have more vocations. Perhaps if Western Civilization would stop contracepting itself out of existence we would have more vocations. As it is more and more young men are hearing the call and are responding. In regards to the Traditional Mass (extraordinary form) it certainly has its place. Thank the Good Lord Our Holy Father Benedict has freed it from the shackles of the ignorant. However, the new order prayed as the Council taught, which is rarely done in most parishes, can be inspiring. It is the manner in which the Mass of Paul VI (ordinary form) was introduced that has led to a confusion of the identity priests. While I am a product of the John Paul II generation of priests, I love the Traditional Mass and the well prayed Novus Ordo. Both of which can lead and inspire young men to cancel out the clutter in modernity and hear Our Lord calling them

  • Martin Sheridan

    If God doesn’t want married men to be priests and doesn’t want women to be priests then why is He calling so many of them?Early in our church’s history married men were priests, and their is plenty of evidence that women acted as priests also. In one of the catacombs there is a mural of a woman sharing the Eurcharist with other women. Paul’s letters also indicate the role of women in the priesthood although it’s fair to add that that term (priest) didn’t exist then. It is not an article of faith than one must believe that only men can priests.

  • paul c

    Prof. Stevens-Arroyo:

  • Louise

    I would like to initially state my total support for Fr. Reilly’s comments above. It is clearly apparent that he is a true priest in line with Jesus’direction and God’s Will. What I find when I read such ridiculous articles as the one Mr. Steven-Arroyo wrote above,these writers only see a secular, worldly view of the Catholic Church and the role of a priest. It is obvious that writers such as him just don’t understand — have no comprehension — of the Truth of the way God does things — especially in His Catholic Church and His priesthood.A priest does not have a job or a profession. This is a vocation — a call from God to live a specially ordained way of life, a way of holiness. He is to be a spiritual father (or shepherd) to the people God has entrusted to him. A priest preaches God’s Truth to those God calls to holiness and life with God. He brings God to God’s children in His Word and in His Body/Blood Presence. Sacraments are not just activities…they are meetings with Jesus Christ!If priests didn’t have to fight such ridiculous opinions, maybe they wouldn’t have to suffer so much. They need to be prayed for and appreciated. They are very special gifts God has given us. And, as was stated above, if we get on our knees in prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the shortage of good and holy priests WILL end!

  • LDS Mark

    Fr. Reilly: You sound like you are being oppressed.God never intended the priesthood to be like that.mark

  • Ryan Haber

    Fr. Reilly,Thank you for your life of service.

  • Ryan Haber

    Belloc,We have to be careful to distinguish between the Novus Ordo Mass as such, and the manner in which it is celebrated.When celebrated as the documents and fathers of the Second Vatican Council and the Vatican have requested, the Novus Ordo is stirring and profound. When it is celebrated in a trivializing way, it is tragic.The Tridentine Mass was also celebrated in many instances in a way that trivialized its reality. Priests skipped or only visually read whole chunks. Even now when it is celebrated, it is very common for the priest distributing communion to recite the whole prayer once for several communicants – clearly not what the rubrics call for. Slovenly conduct was to be found among celebrant and lay faithful alike then as now. Our parents’ parents were stricter people, but the Mass then did not of its nature have anything that is now lacking. For that matter, celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin and ad orientam has always been an option. Ten bucks says 90% of living Catholics would think that was the “Latin Mass.”

  • Ryan Haber

    Martin Sheridan,”If God doesn’t want married men to be priests and doesn’t want women to be priests then why is He calling so many of them?”He’s not, at least, He’s not calling women to be priests in the Catholic Church. If for no other reason than that the Church does not permit it, God would be calling the person to achieve something they couldn’t. That would be extremely unfair of God, wouldn’t it.But there are other reasons, which others as well as myself have ennumerated on recent blogs by Mr. Stevens-Arroyo. I won’t repeat them here.Instead, I will make mention of something else. A vocation from God is not a subjective matter, but an objective matter (like all objective matters) experienced subjectively. Because people become confused, one might experience what they take to be a vocation but in fact is not. It might be a strong desire, an inferiority complex (as perhaps it was in my own case), or even a bad breakfast (I am being serious here, if exaggerating a bit). None of those things is an authentic vocation.Because a vocation has an objective reality, it is to some degree externally measurable. By implication a person can know that they haven’t a vocation, or that they have, with some certainty. For instance, a man who has made wedding vows can know with certainty that he is called to marriage, because he is in one. Whether he was steering safely to arrive in that harbor, he is there nonetheless and his vocation is to live out that choice. Someone can also know that he doesn’t have a vocation. Some dioceses that feel themselves afflicted by a “vocations crisis” are like desperate women, taking any man who will give them the time of day. Not so everywhere, though. And even in those places, ultimately, if the Church will not have the man in Holy Orders, then he can be certain that he hasn’t a vocation to them.”Early in our church’s history married men were priests,”There still are plenty of them. Duly noted.”and their is plenty of evidence that women acted as priests also. In one of the catacombs there is a mural of a woman sharing the Eurcharist with other women.”There is not one shred of evidence to that point. Which catacomb has the abovementioned mural?”Paul’s letters also indicate the role of women in the priesthood although it’s fair to add that that term (priest) didn’t exist then.”Where does St. Paul indicate that women were involved in ordained ministry?I haven’t heard of the catacomb you mentioned, and must have missed the passage in St. Paul’s letters, so I am happy to be enlightened on the points, if you will.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    No, No, No,No part-time priests needed and very few full time priests needed. The pope says one mass for thousands to millions how these days?? HDTV- so we should follow suit by going to mass whenever via HDTV and DVRs at home with the eucharist delivered by mail, UPS or FedEx. We get a year supply at Easter. No churches needed, no priests needed save one to consecrate the hosts and say the mass. And we get the best and brightest homilist for this. And the best choirs!!! Think of the money we would save on priest and parish maintenance!!!!!Baptisms? Deacons already do this.Confirmation? HDTV with the pope doing the confirming on a global basis once a month.Funerals? HDTV at the funeral home. Pick your service from a HD DVD to include Latin, the language of the dead, versions. Confession? A weekly “forgiving ceremony” via HDTV by the same priest/pope. Just a few rules needed for this to be so. There is no NT foundation for face to face confession. Pick your penance via set formulas available on the Vatican webpage e.g. a little white lie- three Hail Marys.Marriage preparation/ Pre-Cana conferences- trained parishioners already conduct these. And if you still want to go to church to anoint yourself with unsanitary holy water and shake the hands of cold and flu sufferers, then convert the sanctuaries to a big screen HDTV and enjoy the first class homilist and choir with “Fedexed” communion distributed by eucharistic ministers. What about the common cup? Common cups and the potential spread of disease are synonymous i.e. the FDA should ban common cups.

  • John

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Absolutely ridiculous article. Holy orders leave an indelible mark on the soul – once a priest, always a priest. You want to solve the priestly shortage? Get Catholics off birth control, start having babies, raise them in the faith (it is the parents’ responsibility to educate children in the faith, not the parish), and I’m sure some very fine young men will be lining up outside the seminary to be priests. If that doesn’t happen, I’m sure the Catholic Church would be better off as a smaller church that is more orthodox as the heretics, schismatics, and hippies flee en masse.

  • Tim

    The idea of having part-time priests became a practice in France in the early part of the 20th century. They were referred to as “worker priests” because they had secular jobs, wanted to identify more with the laity, and then serve as priests primarily for weekend Masses. It was a novel idea. However, many of the worker priests eventually left the active ministry and kept their secular jobs. This experiment seemed to support the idea that one cannot be a “parttime priest.” Jesuits and other ordained men religious that teach are not parttime priests. Teaching is part of their full-time ministry.

  • Fr. Marie-Paul

    This article reflects mere human thinking applied to the faith problem. Part-time doesn’t fit the character of the Sacrament of Orders, and a vocation. Orders places an indelible mark on the soul of the (previously baptized) ordained man. Once a priest, always a priest. Hebrews 7:17 “For it is testified; You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” And a vocation is not merely a job, nor even a career. It is a lifelong commitment to which the ordained man responds with his very life to God’s call. John 15:16 “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” A vocation is driven by God, not by a simple choice like choosing a job. The real solution would get at the root of the problem – which is loss of Faith. Any Diocese or Religious Order which practices the faith has vocations, and those modernists who reject Catholic teaching – and they are many – with the “itching ears” do not have vocations and therefore have shortages. The laity can off-load the administrative tasks so that the priest can focus on what he is supposed to do: be a spiritual Father. And don’t forget to pray for vocations. You lack what you don’t ask for.

  • Anita

    When Jesus said,”follow Me” to the apostles, He did not say,for as long as you like. He was directing them to a permanent commitment. Each one left someone behind, to do what they were requested to do. This is what the priesthood is and will always be. Watering it down is not honoring Jesus. but rather is disrespecting Him. We are at a time in history when commitment is not heard of very much anymore, even very little in marriages. That is why there are so many divorces. How sad for our world.

  • Laura

    I just wanted to comment on Fr. Reilly’s post:”well said!” Thank you for speaking the truth. Please know that, on behalf of Mary, Mother of Priests, I and many other women pray for priests like you. Please hang on, and even if our support is not visible, know that we are out there spiritually. I pray you will all run the good race and attain your crown in heaven. I have come to a deep appreciation of the priesthood over the past few years. We have perpetual adoration in our parish and I credit that with the wonderful, orthodox priests we have. I will pray for you especially this week in adoration, at 3:00 A.M. Monday.

  • A Seminarian

    To Ed,You said, “A priesthood based on recruiting older men is not what we need to lead the church in the years ahead. We need energetic, sexually mature, normal, devoted men who seek to fulfill a special calling.”This was a comment in reference to celibacy. I am 24 years old, and (God willing) I will be ordained to the priesthood in three years. Believe me when I tell you sir that there are very many young, “energetic, sexually mature, normal, devoted men who seek to fulfill a special calling.” And while celibacy might not have been our first choice in life, if it is the Lord’s Will, we gratefully and very willingly embrace this practice. Okay, with that being stated, being a part-time priest does not inspire, much the same way a part-time mom or dad does not inspire. In fact, if I had a part-time dad, he would no doubt be considered a bad father, would he not? Amongst other things, the practice of celibacy is meant to inspire people to give of themselves completely. If the priest does not give himself wholly to his parish, his parishioners could follow that example and withhold gifts and talents. This is precisely what a part-time priesthood would enable, and that’s not inspiring. Priesthood gets reduced to a mere phase in someone’s life. And if you do not believe that this would be the case, talk with some protestant ministers. Many protestant denominations are really hurting for men and women to get “ordained.” Most pastors leave their ministry once they grow tired of it, and, as far as I know, Catholic Priests are the only ones who practice celibacy. The Protestant way of “ordained” ministry sounds to me like this part-time priesthood stuff described in the article above, and it’s not working. But let me say, when the priest lives and serves faithfully, it works. And when it works, people respond in service and faith, and in particular, young men are drawn to it. I beg you Ed, have hope and faith in our Christ-like model of priesthood.

  • John

    I admire your article and there may be different ways to bring younger people into the priesthood. How about letting them live in the environment for a while to see if they have a genuine calling? Also, I am not speaking out of prejudice or bigotry but I object to the constant use of the term Latin/Latino and how it came to be applied exclusively to Spanish speaking peoples whether from Spain or the New World. As an Italian-American of Roman ancestry it was from my ancestors that the Latin language, culture and tribes originated and devoloped from ancient Rome plus the tradition of the Catholic church for almost 2000 years.

  • Dave

    For “Concerned Christian now liberated”Why do you continue to habitually, reduntantly, routinely, predictably post the same tripe ad naseum??? It is beyond old.Impressed with yourself?If you are truly “liberated,” why are you even here?

  • Catholic Questions

    Questions to A SeminarianYour country of origin – Europe East or West, USA-Canada, South America, Asia, AfricaThe country in which you are attending seminaryDid you attend a Catholic schoolWhat is your second choice for a professionIf marriage was an option with priesthood would you have preferred itDoes your socio-economic situation contribute in a positive or negative way to the vocation

  • TIme to Move Beyond the 3rd Century Model

    The idea of part time priests misses the point of being a priest — whether married, celibate, or even a woman. It should be a full time service to God and our Lord. But that doesn’t mean a wife and family wouldn’t serve that. I am shocked at how marriage and family are only seen as a hindrance, bringing no possible benefit to the priests seeking to serve God fully. What does that say about our perception of marriage and family? Not that any of this matters because none of these ideas are being considered by the insular group of middle aged or older men who exclusively make these decisions and who lack the humility to even consider that other voices might be worth at least considering. The Catholic church is not a democracy not does it care about public opinion — that’s how it should be. But that does not mean the church leaders should not consider the Church’s needs in 2008. If you believe the Church was founded by Jesus to bring man closer to God, than one must also consider that the Holy Spirit is capable of guiding the Church through change so that it can continue to meet that mission as our understanding of God and what he calls us to be evolves. We are not the same people we were in the 3rd century — or in Jesus’s time. Our capacity to love and serve God clearly has evolved — hopefully mostly for the better, although we are a long way from being where we need to be. To think that the model developed then is the only true one is to deny our God given ability as a species to grow in our understanding and relationship to God. Once that model hinders rather than helps that relationship it should be modified so as to continue to meet that mission. That doesn’t mean revision every 4, 10, 50 years — but it does suggest change at least every 1000 years! The Church is the vehicle for closer worship and love of God — it is the means, not the ends. Where is the humility even Church leaders are called to have in the refusal to even consider this.

  • paul c

    CCNL:On the other hand, you spend a tremendous amount of your time responding to these posts so there must be something inside of you that keeps looking for answers. That is God calling you back. Be open to that call. If you really had no faith, you would ignore the topic entirely and go completely about your secular business.

  • Ray

    Articles like this explain why The Church has fewer priests. Instead of encouraging young people to become priests, we water down the importance and value of the priesthood. “You are a priest forever!” Would you want to do something if your family or friends told you it wasn’t worth the sacrafice? And to address the issue of deacons, though men are ordained deacons before becoming priests, the theology of their ministry, according to Acts of the Apostles, is a ministry of charity to care for widows, orphans, and the poor. The Church has heirarchy for a good reason.

  • Josemaria

    Regarding Fr. Reilly’s comments, AMEN! Both of his posts show a true understanding of the priesthood & the liturgy. Not to mention he seems to be personally experiencing the Cross in his life. Perhaps we ought to pay closer attention to priests like him and less to sincere, but misguided, columnists! Fr. I will offer a holy hour for you and your brother priests.

  • paul c

    CCNL: It is clear by the wording of Crossan himself in the following that you quoted that this is all about his “best guesses” and his “presumptions”: Just because Crossan doesn’t feel that Jesus was worthy to be dicussed by he leadership doesn’t mean its true. In fact, doesn’t he contradicts himself in consecutive sentences by saying that the leaders had a meeting prior to the festival about distrurbances and then in the next sentence stating that they wouldn’t have been bothered with someone creating such a disturbance. Remember the context. First Jesus raises, Lazarus from the dead, then he is triumphantly introduced into Jerusalem, then he confronts the temple merchants in a very public manner, overturning their tables and driving them out of the temple. I am sure that these events would be sufficient to get the leadership’s attention, just as described in the bible. Because they don’t fit, Prof. Crosnan’ thesis, he dismisses them as prophesy turned history. He certainly doesn’t back this up with any facts because they don’t exist outside the writings at hand (which he conveniently dismisses). Personally, I find the Gospel accounts far more credible than Crosnan’s, as would most people. After all, they’ve been with us for 2000 years and have weathered tremendous word for word scrutiny from believers and non-believers alike. Keep searching but be descriminating in what you accept. You will find the truth..For reference, Your quote: I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those “last week” details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered.”

  • Ryan Haber

    “Time to Move Beyond the Third Century Model” wrote:”The Catholic church is not a democracy not does it care about public opinion — that’s how it should be.”True that.”We are not the same people we were in the 3rd century — or in Jesus’s time. Our capacity to love and serve God clearly has evolved — hopefully mostly for the better, although we are a long way from being where we need to be.”You’re kidding, right? You think that human nature has changed in 2000 years? What do you mean that our ability to love and serve God has evolved? Do you mean that we fight fewer and less catastrophic wars? That we have fewer petty dictators? That there is less wife-battering or child-abusing? I think I must just not understand you correctly.”That doesn’t mean revision every 4, 10, 50 years — but it does suggest change at least every 1000 years!”Well said. The reason that the Catholic Church has outlasted every empire is because she isn’t trying to win, but just to apply faithfully the teaching of Jesus Christ in every age – and there is no rush, because we aren’t going anywhere. We have the promise to Peter (Mt 16:18-19), “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”””…Not that any of this matters because none of these ideas are being considered by the insular group of middle aged or older men who exclusively make these decisions and who lack the humility to even consider that other voices might be worth at least considering… Where is the humility even Church leaders are called to have in the refusal to even consider this.”Uh, sir or madam, where is YOUR humility? Has it occured to you that old men might know more than young men? Has it occured to you that they might know something that you don’t, and aren’t obliged to share it? Has it occured to you that they might be considering some of the options discussed, or others not mentioned here? Has it occured to you that with their collective tens of thousands of hours spent hearing confessions, dealing with priestly “personnel problems”, and consulting with bishops, priests, and lay experts around the world, not to mention the collective hundreds of thousands of hours of experience that their mentors have passed on – that given all that, that those “old men” might have some wisdom that you or I lack?Genuine humility breeds, among other things, meekness, patience, sympathy, attentiveness, and a desire to grow and learn. It does not give rise to lecturing one’s elders or superiors.God grant us all a bit more as we wrangle with these issues.

  • Anonymous

    when you get to be pope you can say how the catholic church operates, until then you opinion does not count.

  • Jon_in_Charlotte

    Thank you Father Reily for your posts.My original reaction to the article was similar to some of the other posts in thinking the concept as ridiculous. But, after a moment of reflection, I percieve it more as being sad.It appears that the article is another attempt by a secularized perspective conceptualizing ways to “fix” the Church. I trust that the author was sincere in his effort, but, rather than expend the energy and time towards developing the idea into an article, if this issue is truly of concern of his then why not commit that time and energy towards praying for vocations to the priesthood.And, instead of writing articles that focus on different ways of improving upon the design of the Church in regards to vocations to the priesthood, why not write articles detailing the efforts of priests that could inspire men to consider the vocation.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul C.,Please note that the “raising” of Lazarus appears only in John’s Gospel (80-110 CE), the latest published and the least historic of the four. Such an important event would have been noted in all the gospels and other related documents from the time period. Conclusion: more embellishment of the life of a simple preacher man in order to compete for the minds and money of the Jews and Gentiles.

  • Catholic Questions

    Thank you for answering the questions A Seminarian.There is a Catholic school influence. Not a negative factor but a relevant one.Celibacy is not your first option. Just as your parents were good Catholics while enjoying the benefits of married life so can a married priest be a good priest. Your father went to work to support the family. He was not part-time father because he worked to support himself and the family.Marriage and priesthood is not mutually exclusive.

  • Concerned about CCNL

    CCNL uses his knowledge of Christianity to crusade against it.CCNL is a “New Atheist” like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins who responds with the same copy-paste comments.

  • Concerned about CCNL

    CCNL please inform the readers on this blog what you know and think about Scientology. Explain how L Ron Hubbard compares with Jesus Christ. Thx.

  • Catholic

    A pious, happily married lay Catholic who is trained in spiritual counseling and psychotherapy could offer the best service to college students without having to be a priest. A priest is needed only for the Sacraments since college students are taken care of in other ways by the educational institutions that parishioners are not.

  • Concerned about CCNL

    Professor Crossan, the Jesus Seminarian is still a Christian. CCNL is a “New Atheist” who crusades against religions. He is some kind of a Bible scholar who uses his knowledge to fight Christianity .L Ron Hubbard does not figure in his list of “illiterate” founders of world religious.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL share your analysis of Scientology. You know the Bible well enough to make comparisons between the teachings of L Ron Hubbard and Jesus Christ.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL:Analyze the comments on Scientology on the two blogs – Under God – by Claire Hoffman – 7 and 12 May and get back to the Catholics here. Thx.

  • Anonymous

    Scientology- a small cult based on the generalities of 1950-1960 sci-fi. Christianity- a huge cult based on the first century CE embellishments of a simple preacher man.Reality easily trumps both.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Suggested reading on sexuality, posted over a year ago elsewhere on this forum:1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull2. Siddharta by Hermann Hesse3. The Book of Proverbs (The Old Testament); relevant verses from NT4. Sexuality (essay) by C S Lewis5. A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover,6. The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm7. The Road Less Traveled by Scott M Peck8. The Ramayana (Hindu Epic)9. Books by Patrick Carnes: Don’t Call it10. Women who love too much by Robin Norwood11. The Casanova Complex by Peter Trachtenberg12. Mount Misery by Samuel Shem (a hilarious

  • Concerned about CCNL

    CCNL:Verify the meaning of cult. The Bible is available to the general public. Christians have always preached openly.What are the teachings of L Ron Hubbard and where is the teaching available.

  • Ryan Haber

    Concerned about CCNL,Lol! The one thing CCNL is NOT is a Biblical Scholar. He parrots Crossan et al., which is amusing because the Jesus Seminar members mostly just parrot each other. Reading their bibliographies is revealing because of the number of cross-citations included: A cites B, B cites C, C cites A, and thus the house of cards is built.—Catholic,You wrote, “A pious, happily married lay Catholic who is trained in spiritual counseling and psychotherapy could offer the best service to college students without having to be a priest. A priest is needed only for the Sacraments since college students are taken care of in other ways by the educational institutions that parishioners are not.”A priest’s role isn’t primarily to provide psychotherapy. While spiritual counseling is part of his work, and it is second to the sacraments, and you are right about that, I feel you are missing something important. That college students are well taken care of by educational institutions, or better taken care of than parishioners, is open to debate and gets at the heart of the question. A parish isn’t meant to be a social service center, although the love of Christ has always impelled local Christian communities to provide those services to society that are needed and possible. A priest isn’t meant to be some sort of celibate social worker, although he very often provides and organizes a number of social services for the same reason.Priests are certainly not meant to be sacrament vending machines, or anonymous eternal-life dispensers. A priest of Jesus Christ is meant to be, in a particular and special way, another Christ. Saying that his role is primarily that of a therapist or social worker, a civil servant who smiles more nicely, is akin to reducing Jesus Christ primarily to a miracle worker, doing various good deeds for the people who come His way. That is not what Jesus Christ came to do. He came to announce the Good News of God’s immense love for us, and at the end of His proclamation to prove and complete that love by voluntarily dying for those who murdered Him: us. That is what a priest is called to do: daily to lay down His life to prove and complete God’s love for us in our daily lives. He does this first and foremost by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ: that a man born in Nazareth sometime about 2000 years ago was also God, and that the God-man showed God’s love for us, died for us, and then resurrected, opening for us the possibility of corporally transcending death ourselves and thus dwelling in eternal beatitude. He preaches the Gospel with his life of service and his words, especially from the pulpit. In doing so, he converts the hearts and minds of the community to which he is sent, and prepares them to receive the Eucharist by baptizing them into the Life of Christ, instructing them in how to live like Christ, and hearing their confessions and restoring them to Christ. Ultimately, as he shares with them the Eucharist, he literally transmits to them in corporal form the life of God Himself, thereby drawing them, week by week and day by day, closer and closer to the eternity of joy prepared for those who love God.It’s a bit cooler than being a celibate psychotherapist/social-service provider.And no, most college students are not better provided for than the typical parishioner. Most college students go in having only drank a bit, and as likely to be virgins as not; they come out accustomed to the most outrageous debaucheries, with seered consciences, hardened hearts, unable to sustain fulfilling interpersonal relationships, and perhaps a vague sense that “people” (somewhere) are supposed to “give back”.

  • Anon

    One of the hardest things to be is an American, Catholic woman trying hard to be faithful to a Church that at every turn tells me I am not as called to serve the Lord, and not an equal to the men I worship with. You can tell me about Mary, you can tell me that we are each called to serve differently and I will not argue with that. However, from the ordination of women, to the belief that “tying” oneself to a woman hinders a man’s ability to serve God and the flock, the Church continues to send the message that women are somehow less in God’s eyes. Priests have a demanding life, so part-time and priest is an oxymoron. THere are many duties, difficult parishioners, the need to consult with and serve at the diocesan level. At the same time, families are demanding, too. So the hard liners say the Church has spoken and moreover the option of having both is not viable period. Yet even they can’t with integrity point to anyone, including Jesus, who said that celibacy was required. The Church itself calls it a discipline not dogma. And if you think that is a distinction without a difference compare that to John Paul II’s statements on the ordination of women and to the first centuries of the Church. I still say having married priests with families can also bring many, many benefits to ministry. Celibate priests can and do fall short, too. In a time when the institution of marriage (yes, I know it is a sacrament) is under stress, large numbers of Catholics feel estranged, and many must go without a parish priest, it’s time to think about the message that allowing priests to marry would send to women and to those who value marriage as a heavenly blessed union in which each is dedicated to the commitments of their spouse, particularly to serving the Lord. I also find it interesting that those who speak so forcefully about the wisdom of the leaders of the Church also suggest that they would have none of a Church that did loosen the discpline. I think one priest even wrote he’d be the first to leave the priesthood if that happened. So wasn’t he saying I will only adhere to a Church I agree with — the very thing those of us who favor reform are damned for?I know the response this almost certainly will garner frombut those who appear to have taken over this blog, what about other voices? Is anyone else out there?