Through our baptism, each one of us is anointed to share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ. We are all called to offer a worthy sacrifice of our lives, to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, and to build the kingdom of heaven. Priests are men set apart, called by Christ Himself, and conformed to Him by the grace of the sacrament of ordination, to make Him present in the world and to continue His mission in an extraordinary way through an extraordinary calling. Priests proclaim the Gospel through preaching and teaching. They make Christ present through the celebration of the sacraments, especially through the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the two sacraments for which priests are set apart. Finally, priests govern the Church and build up the kingdom of God, oftentimes by taking care of parishes and institutions the way a father provides for his household.
At the center of the priest’s life is the daily celebration of the Eucharist. A priest celebrates Mass often, following the Lord’s command that He left to His apostles to ‘do this in memory of me!’ Although a priest is called upon to do many things, it can be said that everything He does is ordered to the Eucharist and flows from it. Just as the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life and unity, so also everything a priest does either prepares the people of God to receive Christ more intimately and worthily in the Eucharist, or flows out as the fruit of the Eucharistic command to ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’
A priest is a powerful symbol of the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection. A priest is seen by all as someone who is set apart and called by Christ to represent Him. For this reason, people ask that their priests be close to Christ through their prayer and to provide a convincing example of the joy that comes from loving God with all one’s mind, heart and strength.
Diocesan priesthood can be said to be the ‘oldest’ form of the Catholic priesthood. A diocesan priest makes promises (not vows) of celibacy, prayer and obedience. These priestly promises do not make a man a priest. The laying on of hands by the bishop and the prayer of consecration (calling down of the Holy Spirit) make a man a priest. The promises serve only to configure the priest more closely to Christ and to His flock. Diocesan priests are the ‘right hand men’ of the bishop, who is the successor of the apostles in a particular diocese. As such, diocesan priests share most intimately in the apostolic mission of the Church entrusted to the bishops. Diocesan priests oftentimes do not specialize in one apostolate, but are able to respond to pastoral needs and opportunities for evangelization as they arise within the vineyard of the Lord’s service.
Currently, there are 111 priests for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. We have 20 men studying for the priesthood. Some of these 111 priests are retired or are serving in ministries outside of our diocese. In addition, some 30 priests from dioceses and religious orders around the world assist the Archbishops and priests of the Archdiocese with the pastoral care of 225,000 Catholics and with the proclamation of the Gospel to all people of good will in northeast Kansas.