“Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest – always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.” St. Jean Marie Vianney, Cure d’Ars; Catechism on the Priesthood
The priesthood is one of the greatest gifts that God has deigned to give to us, for His priests are given the grace by the sacrament they received to stand in persona Christi, or, in the person of Christ. It is in this vocation where they are married to the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” The episcopate is the office of Bishop, the presbyterate is the office of the Priest (as “co-workers” of the Bishop), and the diaconate is the office of the Deacon, who is ordained to help and serve the Priests and Bishops.
Priests may be diocesan, in that they serve the diocese under their Bishop, or they may be Religious Priests. Religious Priests take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, while diocesan Priests, rather than taking vows, make promises to their Bishop of prayer, celibacy, and obedience.
Pope John Paul II said “Your wish is to become a priest, or at least your wish is to discover if you are being called to be one. And so the question is a serious one, because you have to prepare thoroughly, with clear intentions and an austere formation.” Take time to discern a vocation to Holy Orders. Once you have completed high school, you may begin to apply to seminaries or religious orders. You may also contact seminaries or religious orders to arrange to visit for a “come and see” weekend. Take some time to talk to Priests that you may know or wish to get to know about their life as a priest. Find out what drew them to the priesthood and why do they love their vocation? You can also visit this page to see some Priestly testimonies. If you are a man, do not be afraid to consider this vocation. Just because you take time to discern, does not necessarily mean that you are called, but in taking time to discern, you put your trust in the Lord that He will lead you to the vocation which He has set out for you, and which will bring you the most joy.