4. What’s the difference
between a diocesan priest and
a religious priest?
A diocesan priest ordinarily serves
the church within a geographic area
called a diocese. He usually serves
the people as a parish priest, but he
may also be involved in many other
forms of ministry like teaching,
hospital ministry, campus ministry,
or prison ministry.
A religious priest is a member
of a religious congregation whose
ministry goes beyond the geographic limits of any diocese. A religious
priest seeks to live a life of poverty,
celibacy, and obedience within a
community of men. The community shares a common vision and
spirituality and often emphasizes a
particular type of ministry.
5. What’s the difference
between a brother and a priest?
A brother commits himself to Christ
by the vows of poverty, celibacy,
and obedience. He usually lives in a
religious community and works in a
ministry that suits his talents and gifts.
A brother might be a teacher, electri-
cian, cook, lawyer, technician, parish
minister, or artist. He tries to live his
faith by being a “brother” to others.
A priest is ordained for a
distinctive role as a minister of
the sacraments. He celebrates the
Eucharist and witnesses marriages,
baptizes babies and adults, and
brings God’s healing presence to
people through the sacraments of
Penance and Anointing of the Sick.
He is involved in a variety of other
works as well—most often parish-
related—but sacramental life is his
6. What’s the difference
between a sister and a nun?
Although people use these terms
interchangeably, a sister is a woman
who belongs to an apostolic, or active, religious order that is dedicated
to ministry, such as education, justice,
healthcare, parish work, advocacy, or
social service. By contrast, a nun is a
sister who belongs to a contemplative
monastery where most of her day is
dedicated to prayer for the good of
the world. Contemplative nuns are
usually cloistered, that is, they rarely
leave the monastery property.
7. How are religious orders
different from one another?
Each religious order or congregation
has a charism—a gift given for the
service of the church. Their charism
may be to teach, pray, or heal, for
example. It helps them accomplish
the community’s mission and focus
Many congregations are like-
minded or have similar ministries,
but each is distinct in one respect or
another. Sometimes it may just be a
priests, sisters, and brothers spend
about two hours a day praying. Part
of that time we pray with others at
Mass. We also pray other formal
prayers like the Liturgy of the Hours
or the Rosary, or spend time with
others less formally reading and
reflecting on readings from the Bible.
Part of the time we also pray alone,
perhaps reading or just being quiet
with God. One of the positive effects
of prayer, whatever shape it takes, is
to keep us aware of God’s activity in
the people, events, and circumstances of daily life.
3. Is prayer always easy for you?
Not always! Even those of us in
contemplative life—whose ministry
is prayer—go through dry spells
when our prayer time seems dull
or uneventful. As we grow in our
experience of prayer we learn how
to adjust to these changes. We often
depend on the support of our communities or the help of a spiritual
director (who serves as a guide) to
help us keep praying during difficult
times. Those of us who are parish
priests have our parish communities and our fellow priests to lead us
toward prayer even when we’d rather
not be bothered. We try to be faithful
even when we don’t feel like it.
Learn more about #059 at VocationNetwork.org