What’s the difference between a diocesan priest and a priest in a religious order?
The diocesan priest and the Religious priest both exercise the same priesthood under a different authority structure. The diocesan priest is subject to the Bishop of his diocese; the Religious is subject to his Religious Superior. In addition, the diocesan priest does not take a vow of poverty whereas the Religious priest does. The diocesan priest does not live in community, but most Religious priest do. Diocesan priests, however, can choose to live a kind of community life by coming together with fellow priests.
The order priests, such as Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, etc., each have a particular charism or religious lifestyle that contributes to the life of the church, e.g. poverty & ecology, preaching, monasticism & sung liturgy. The secular (diocesan) priests do all of the fundamental work in parishes through the sacramental life (Eucharist, baptism, marriage, funerals etc.) whereas the order priests perform complementary or support activities. Normally, order priests are freed from the parish day to day work in order to offer the other elements of Christian life: prayer, retreats, reflection, vocation, ministry etc.
Most popular questions
- I feel I have a specific charism to youth outreach. Can I live this charism out as a priest, or must I follow the charism of the order I join?
- What is a deacon and how is it different than a priest?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- What if as a priest I need to take time out to care for a relative or family member?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- Are religious orders different from one another? If so, how are they different?
- As a priest if I decide that I no longer want to do something, such as work in a specific parish, do I have any say or is it all out of my hands?
- School was never something I really liked. Is the study part of formation very hard?
- If I request information about joining a religious organisation, will I be pressured into joining?
- What does discernment mean when we’re talking about vocation?