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
- 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?
- If I request information about joining a religious organisation, will I be pressured into joining?
- Can I become a bishop or cardinal and not a priest?
- I read stories of religious communities merging or closing down. Are religious organisations dying out?
- Can a gay man become a priest?
- I do not consider myself to be exceptionally holy, I try to pray every day and follow the commandments. I have always been very interested in the priesthood but I have never felt a burning passion for it. Could I still be called to the priesthood?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- If I take a vow of celibacy, will I get very lonely?
- Can I still join the priesthood if I have personal debts?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?