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A CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD...
Catholic priests are basically differentiated into Diocesan priests and other priests (religious, societal and personal prelature). However, they all share a fundamentally common identity as "alter Christus (another Christ)" and exercise common ministerial functions. Pope John Paul II says, "The priest of tomorrow, no less than the priest of today, must resemble Christ." (Pastores Dabo Vobis, # 5)

Affiliation Canonically, all priests must be affiliated to one or another ecclesiastical superior. Their affiliation or incardination may be either to a particular church or to an ecclesiastical association. Those who are affiliated to a diocesan bishop are called diocesan priests, those to a religious institute are religious priests and those to a society are priests of the society. Members of a secular institute are often incardinated into a particular church or into the institute itself by virtue of a grant of the Apostolic See. (Ref: Canons 265, 266)

Institutes of Consecrated Life: All members of institutes of consecrated life profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, and strive for the perfection of charity in service to the kingdom of God. The state of consecrated life by its very nature is neither clerical nor lay. (Ref: c 588)

Due to the diverse charisms of the institutes, they differ in their way of expressing their fulfillment of God's will, some by complete dedication to contemplation, and others to diverse apostolic ministries and charitable works (primary attention to education, health care, or service to the poor, etc.) They differ also in diverse orientation of spirituality (e.g. Franciscan, Teresian, Ignatian, Alphonsian, etc.)

WHAT IS THE DIOCESAN PRIESTHOOD
In theory, Diocesan priests are secular in contrast to Religious. However in practice, both groups live the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and both groups participate in the common life of the presbyterium. The religious take the three vows, and the diocesan priests make public commitments to obedience and chastity during the ordination and they are to live these commitments. With regards to poverty, though the diocesan priesthood does not oblige this vow, nevertheless, they are strongly encouraged to live a simple life-style, to be faithful stewards of church wealth, and to use their personal material resources with great pastoral charity.

The diocesan priests live in the midst of the world, to sanctify it, though they are also out of the world by not being attached to it, and to witness to the Kingdom of God by not conforming to worldliness. When a religious group is not contemplative, they live also such a relation with the world. Whether diocesan or religious, the identity and fundamental mission of all priests are the same. They differ mainly in the apostolic ministry which they undertake. Diocesan priests usually render pastoral care in parishes, but in case of necessity, religious priests may also be entrusted the care of parishes. In comparison, religious usually takes on specialized care of the migrants, the prisoners, the schools, the hospitals, the orphans, and the like, in responding to their charism and local needs. However, such distinction is not absolute and fixed.

A diocesan priest is incardinated to a diocesan bishop, and devotes his life to serve a community of Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church, a portion of the people of God called a diocese. He lives as one among them, usually in a territorial section of the diocese, called a parish, to share with them their human conditions. He cherishes the community he belongs as a communion of love, and is its leader in cooperation with the bishop, who gives of himself freely and leads by humble service, for the realization of God’s kingdom.

The central role of the diocesan priests is therefore parish pastoral care. As a general rule, a parish is an embrace of the Christian faithful within a certain territorial. A parish priest renders pastoral care to the parishioners from cradle to grave, by administering of sacraments, leading in prayer and worship, giving faith and moral formation, and doing work of charity.

A young man who wishes to know the life and mission of a diocesan priest is encouraged to approach his parish priests or the seminary formators, who will further guide him. A Brief picture of the process towards priesthood can be found
here.



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