Priesthood: What does a priest do all day?
The priesthood is not as much about what a priest does but what a priest is. Still, there are many aspect of a priest’s ministry that are common to the priesthood. The priest is ordained to proclaim the Word of God. He will do this in a variety of ways. First, the priest proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ through the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Mass. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and the daily celebration of the Eucharist is central to the life of the priest and to his ministry. The priest will also spend time preparing for and celebrating the sacraments of Reconciliation, Baptism, Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage.
The gifts and talents of each individual priest are used to the benefit of God’s people. While most diocesan priests serve in parish assignments, some may also serve as hospital chaplains, prison ministry, high school or college chaplains, canon lawyers, etc. All of these are important ministries for the Church and the people of God.
There is no “typical” day for the priest. While no two days are exactly alike, each day will include the celebration of Holy Mass, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and personal prayer. What else a priest does during the day will depend on a priest’s particular assignment. Most priests are in parish ministry and will meet with couples who are preparing for marriage, prepare and celebrate funeral Masses, visit parishioners in the hospital or nursing home, anoint the sick, counsel those who are in need, minister to the poor, meet with different parish ministries, as well as parish administration.
The priest may have his day planned out but he will be ready to meet the particular special needs of the people when events arise in their lives. A call to visit someone at the hospital or nursing home; a parishioner who is going through a difficult time with a family member and needs pastoral counseling; an individual who rings the doorbell looking for a priest to hear his confession; the unexpected death of a parishioner’s family member; all of these (and many other such occurrences) are grace-filled moments in the life of the priest and can cause him to adjust his schedule at a moment’s notice.