Ministry of a Priest
What is the ministry of a priest? You can look to the Book of Common Prayer for the best short overview available. On page 856, the Catechism says, “The ministry of a priest is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God.” It is important to notice that the first part of the description overlaps exactly with what everyone is called to in ministry – to represent Christ and his Church.
People who are not priests also do the work of pastoring to people, working with the bishop in administering and overseeing the Church, proclaiming the Gospel and administering the sacraments. The particular ministry of priests and bishops is to declare pardon in the name of God. Given all of these overlaps, a priest must be someone who works well with many other people in all of their various responsibilities and gifts. In working with other people, priests must be good at listening, inviting, handling rejection, teaching and presenting their faith with authenticity and practice. The daily work is full of variety, joy, disappointments and good surprises.
And because it is impossible to sum up the ministry of a priest in one paragraph, make sure you talk several priests to hear about how they perceive what it is to be a priest.
The Rev. George D. Smith, Rector
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Glen Ellyn, IL