A PRIEST IS...
A Man of Prayer
The priest is first and foremost a man of prayer. The priest lives in persona Christi, so his most important prayer is to re-present the sacrifice of Jesus during Holy Mass. His parish relies on him to offer a sacrifice "holy and acceptable to God." Throughout the week, too, at parish meetings and community functions, he is often asked: "Father, will you lead us in prayer?" He is seen as a man who knows how to speak with God.
A priest spends each day in personal prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours and time in private meditation before the Blessed Sacrament. His private prayer is essential, for he must know Him of Whom he speaks, teaches and preaches; he must come to have an intimate relationship with Christ. The priest becomes "another Christ" for his people.
A Preacher of the Word
Since the beginning of Christianity, people have come to Jesus through the preaching of the Word. Today, this remains a primary ministry of a priest. Because the majority of Catholics encounter the faith and receive their inspiration to practice it from the preaching of their parish priest, men who can articulate their knowledge and excitement about their Faith are a great treasure to the Church. A priest's duty, then, is to teach his people how Christ's life is relevant to their own. He answers the question, "How can I live out my faith today?"
"The Church faces a particularly difficult task in her efforts to preach the word of God in all cultures in which the faithful are constantly challenged by consumerism and a pleasure-seeking mentality." (St. John Paul II)
A priest is not a priest for himself. The ordained priest shares in the mission of Jesus as Priest, Prophet, and Shepherd. As priest, he prays and celebrates the Eucharist. As prophet, he preaches and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as shepherd, he serves others.
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the Eucharistic mandate to His apostles, "Do this in memory of Me," but not before the Lord had knelt down and washed their feet. Jesus said, "What I have done for you, you must do for one another."
A priest must be a servant to God's people. He brings the love and strength of Christ into the parish, the school, the hospital room, the prison, the inner city…wherever God's people are and especially wherever they suffer, the priest is there.
Some men are called to lay down their lives for the Church in the ordained ministry by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. These men stand in the person of Christ and serve their bride, the Church, through their preaching and teaching and by celebrating the Sacraments. Diocesan priests primarily serve the geographical area of their diocese, typically as parish priests but also in other capacities, such as chaplains in schools, hospitals, and prisons.
The Archdiocese of Washington is comprised of the District of Columbia and five Maryland counties: St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert, Prince George’s, and Montgomery. There are almost 600,000 Catholics in this area who are served by about 140 parishes and 250 active priests. Together with an extensive Catholic school system, hospitals, Catholic Charities, and other apostolates, the Catholic presence in the region is vibrant and growing. Essential to the Church’s work in the Archdiocese of Washington is the ministry of priests who serve as shepherds, administrators, counselors, teachers, and collaborators. Most importantly, however, the priest provides for the administration of the sacraments and spiritual guidance, promoting the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of the people.