What if as a priest I need to take time out to care for a relative or family member?
This important matter of family responsibility in face of illness or old age is usually dealt with sensitively in dialogue with your bishop or religious superior. Your primary pastoral responsibilities have to be weighed up against other demands on your time, how critical these demands are, and what is a reasonable call on your attention. There are no easy solutions and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. When the issue arises, think it through practically, pray for guidance, seek the advice of wise people, and talk the matter out with your superiors. In that way, hopefully, you will find the best way forward.
This is not just an issue for priests. Families have to work out together how, for example, to look after elderly parents or a special needs person, and to balance this with their primary responsibilities to their spouse and children. In fact, sometimes the priest has an advantage here over other family members. Not having immediate family commitments they can more easily be available at times of crisis.
Most popular questions
- Can a gay man become a priest?
- 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?
- Why are there so many different religious organisations?
- What does discernment mean when we’re talking about vocation?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- Are religious orders different from one another? If so, how are they different?
- I have a girlfriend but I feel called to religious life. If I go into training for the priesthood can I still keep my girlfriend in case it becomes clear that I don’t actually have a vocation?
- 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?
- Can I leave the priesthood if I want, and is there any support if I do?