IamA Catholic Priest. AMA!
My short bio: I'm a Roman Catholic priest in my late 20s, ordained in Spring 2020. It's an unusual life path for a late-state millennial to be in, and one that a lot of people have questions about! What my daily life looks like, media depictions of priests, the experience of hearing confessions, etc, are all things I know that people are curious about! I'd love to answer your questions about the Catholic priesthood, life as a priest, etc!
Nota bene: I will not be answering questions about Catholic doctrine, or more general Catholicism questions that do not specifically pertain to the life or experience of a priest. If you would like to learn more about the Catholic Church, you can ask your questions at /r/Catholicism.
My Proof: https://twitter.com/BackwardsFeet/status/1491163321961091073
EDIT: a lot of questions coming in and I'm trying to get to them all, and also not intentionally avoiding the hard questions - I've answered a number of people asking about the sex abuse scandal so please search before asking the same question again. I'm doing this as I'm doing parent teacher conferences in our parish school so I may be taking breaks here or there to do my actual job!
EDIT 2: Trying to get to all the questions but they're coming in faster than I can answer! I'll keep trying to do my best but may need to take some breaks here or there.
EDIT 3: going to bed but will try to get back to answering tomorrow at some point. might be slower as I have a busy day.
Can't say that I have, though at a wedding reception a few weeks ago I sat at a table with a Protestant youth pastor.
Do bishops have a hard time going through life only being able to move diagonally?
Someone asked about weed but then deleted their comment. Here's my reply:
It seems to be that at the very least it shouldn't be a Schedule I drug and should be allowed for legitimate medicinal use. Catholic teaching on recreational use of drugs is that we shouldn't use them to the point of, or for the end goal, of losing our ability to reason (e.g. getting drunk, etc) and that would apply to any drug - alcohol, weed, etc.
Can I just say that I'm very happy that you are being a real priest. Not trying to force others into your religion but politely and humbly answering everyone's questions here. your one of the very few people (let alone a priest) that ive met who has actually been polite when asked question about their beliefs. It is very reassuring to see people as humble as you still exist.
My question is how do you reconcile your faith in God and in the Church while at the same time witnessing all the crimes against children that are so pervasive in the church? Sorry to be blunt with the question, but I guess this is something which you have already thought about before/during becoming a priest right? Is this something that is discussed at all during your formation years in the seminary?
EDIT: to everyone messaging me with the argument that more kids are hurt in schools than in churches, hence the issue with churches is not a big deal - stop. You are just making yourself look stupid.
Part one: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/snvhjz/iama_catholic_priest_ama/hw52y7c/
Part two: the need to protect children and not have a "good old boys" culture is something that was taken very seriously in seminary. Before I entered I had to take a whole battery of psychological tests, and in seminary we always had drilled into us to call law enforcement the moment we would ever suspect abuse happening. My diocese was involved in a scandal that caused bankruptcy and our bishop resigning during my time in seminary, I saw the pain it caused victim/survivors and the pain it caused the faithful struggling to believe and I vow not to allow that to happen ever under my watch. If I smell smoke, I assume fire and make sure the right people hear about it.
A guy I went to college with was ruled out of the seminary by one of these tests.
We could've saved them the time and told them not to take him.
Which is also why we need letters of recommendation!
Please, people. Limit yourself only to questions about Rampart.
Writing up a reply now, don't worry!
if someone confesses attempted suicide and they are going to try again how do you handle that?
I try to refer people to mental health professionals as best I can, recognizing that I'm not a therapist and I'm not trained to deal with depression, etc. Walking with people and being compassionate does wonders. Having gone through a period of depression myself, I try to relate and encourage as best I can.
So, I barely know anything about how this works.
Is being a priest the end goal, or do you expect to move up in hierarchy (eg. bishop, archbishop etc)?
Generally, if you want to be a bishop you probably shouldn't be. The best bishops aren't the ones looking towards careerism, but the ones who are humble and just want to serve.
Just like other politics!
and just like other politics, this, unfortunately is usually not the case.
OP seems very idealistic lol
Now do 5 Hail Mary's
Why do all new church buildings look like gymnasiums?
There’s a beautiful old church building in my town going unused in favor of some stadium seating-style windowless brick den of sadness.
idk man i dont like it either
Mass is only one part of the work week, how else are you spending your time, and how do you manage to be on point constantly??
Meeting with parishioners, funerals, teaching religion in our parish school, teaching RCIA for people who want to become Catholic, youth group, young adult group, etc etc!
What do you reckon your average hourly wage would be, all told?
If I worked 40 hours a week, it'd be around $17 an hour.
Are housing expenses paid though? Aren't certain expenses covered?
yeah, housing is provided, this is just off of straight salary
Did you always want to be a priest or did you have an “aha” moment at some point?
Celibacy. Why? Do you personally feel it’s important to being a priest and did you struggle with that part of the lifestyle in any way?
How do you feel about women being unable to be priests?
I wanted to be a priest when I was young, but that desire fell away when I realized girls were pretty. I then had an aha moment in college. So, a bit of both.
Celibacy is important for a few reasons; it allows a total commitment to God and it points that there's more to existence than sex. Certainly can be difficult at times, but ultimately is rewarding.
Ok this is vulgar and very personal, but I have to ask it on the off chance you’re going to reply: Do you masturbate?
Adding onto your question- for op, were you intimate with someone else before discernment?
I was in a relationship prior to entering seminary but am a virgin.
How much you deadlifting now, broseph?
Is lifting weights big amongst clergy?
What'd be your top 3 priorities as pope?
- End the liturgy wars among progressive and traditional Catholics by a gradual transition to a modified version of the Roman Missal of 1965
- Rebuild credibility of the Church in the wake of the sex abuse crisis and enact swift and harsh justice against people who abuse the positions of trust they are given
- Last but certainly not least, make Jesus Christ known and loved
How do you spend non-priesting hours?
I grew up Catholic (no longer) and it was always weird see Father Murray out doing normal things. It immediately made something normal (buying milk) weird. Like I expected him to be in his vestments.
Weightlifting (455 DL, 245 bench, 365 squat) , hanging with friends, and Netflix.
Are you using protein powder in your holy water? 💪🏻
How's it feel to be the second strongest moderator on /r/Catholicism?
rofl says the dude who cant deadlift
How far does the vow of poverty go? Are you forbidden from holding property/excess personal possessions? Do you draw a salary? If you do get a windfall, are you bound to donate it to your parish?
As I'm a diocesan priest and not in a religious order, I am allowed to have personal property and do draw a salary. I am expected still to life a life of simplicity and not cause scandal - no Joel Osteen here! I, give or take, donate 10%+ of my income to charity and people in need.
Since you brought it up, how do you feel about Joel Osteen?
I'm not fond of those who see Christianity as a self-help get-rich-quick prosperity-Gospel scheme, rather than about a fundamental relationship with Jesus Christ..
Have you seen midnight Mass? Opinions on how the priest was portrayed?
Have not, no.
Have you ever watched Father Ted, and if did you enjoy it?
yes, and that would be an ecumenical matter.
Have you ever seen Keeping The Faith? Or read The Exorcist?
My family is super religious. I have left the church. When they pass I know I will inherit all the religious things, crosses, nativity scenes, rosaries, etc.
What do I do with them all? It is just too much for me to keep it all as it is not my faith anymore and I don’t want to throw it away (cause that would be rude). What do I do with it all?
You could donate them to a local parish.
Is it bad to let the communal wafer touch the roof of my mouth?
There is a lot of interest in exorcism, naturally. Movies and TV make you think that there lots of busy exorcists out there with backlogs of work to do. What is the current sentiment among the clergy about exorcism in the church, and how much of what we see is fiction about its role in church life?
They happen but are rare. Not usually as sensational as movies make them out to be.
What's your opinion on the childrens bodies dumped in septic tanks in Tuam, Ireland?
Messed up and those responsible will have a reckoning before almighty God.
Can you please pray for the intercession of Blessed Solanus Casey to pray for a little baby Jacob to live? He has terminal brain cancer and is only 2 months old. The power of prayer is his hope right now. Thank you
What's your current Wordle golf score?
ty, gotta step my game up
Do you like turtles??
i like turtles
What are some areas you think the Roman Catholic Church could stand to improve in?
We're far too often in damage control mode and not enough in "humbly admitting and apologizing for fault" and "spreading the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ" mode.
Do you feel like you have been empowered in any way to help change that?
In a boots on the ground sort of way, I walk with people on all paths of life, including those who have been abused - either within the Church or without. It's a blessing and helpful.
We're far too often in damage control mode and not enough in "humbly admitting and apologizing for fault"
I'd prefer to see more behavior that won't require future apologies.
That too, but I assumed that was implied.
Do any Catholic priests learn Latin anymore or hold fully Latin mass?
We're required to have a working knowledge of Latin to be ordained. This looks different from place to place but I took three semesters of Latin. I will on occasion say Mass in Latin.
At what point do you agree to stop having sex? Is it the day before you become a priest?
On the day I was ordained a deacon (about a year before I was ordained a priest) is when I took my promise of celibacy. But, if I would have had a sexual encounter while in seminary that would have likely ended that!
How does it feel to have people well your senior refer to you as Father?
It took a lot of getting used to!
Does your father call you Father?
When around other people, yes.
1) What do you feel is the reason for the decline in men joining the catholic priesthood?
2) what did you think of Father Intintola in the Sopranos?
There's obviously the decline in the practice of religion as a whole, but also in the 70s and 80s the theology of the priesthood was very weak and often created priests who weren't that on fire for their priesthood, so to speak. When the example of priests that you have are grumpy old men who don't seem excited about their life or about God, it's hard to think that would be something you'd want! Most priests I know are able to point to another priest who concretely affected their life in a positive way, so having that influence is important.
Believe it or not, never seen the Sopranos but am a big fan of how priests were portrayed in Silence and Gran Torino. Could really see a bit of myself in the idealistic young guy in the latter.
Most kids stay home and play at their computers instead of going to church
Less chance of being molested.
You're a clever comedian! You should do stand-up. Never heard that one before!
What connections do you find between Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s broader legendarium and catholic/christian theology?
I love them and there are too many to list, but the idea of sacrificial love and also the fun lembas bread reference to the Eucharist.
Mac or PC?
I'm a former mod of /r/linuxmasterrace so that might answer your question
A reddit mod turned priest. God works in mysterious ways
heck, at one point even a default mod
Thank you for doing this! Fellow Catholic here but have been bad about going to mass since the pandemic. I’m not sure if anyone has asked this yet, but when you do reconciliation, do you ever judge the person or feel embarrassed to see them at mass again?
I only ever feel joy when someone returns after a long time! That's how Jesus says to react in the Gospel, after all.
I was raised Catholic, and wanted to get married in the same church my grandparents did to honor them. When my now husband and I first met with priest to start the process for our marriage, the priest really left a bad impression. Unfortunately he was the only priest at that church to marry us. The very first thing he told us was all men are priests and all women are temples. After marriage it’s ok for the priest to enter the temple. My husband and I were a little uncomfortable getting the sex talk from a man only a few years older than us, but it gets worse. The priest then said “You may not think that applies to me, but I’m a priest and when I walk into church or God’s temple, I give my seed up to God and it comes back through to me through my balls and I then have super natural balls.” My husband has never practiced religion and I was absolutely mortified and was worried he would back out of our marriage right then and there. He didn’t thankfully. But wait it gets worse. The morning of our wedding, I go to confession. I think things are going smoothly. Because the priest never even tried to get to know us as a couple, I tried to give him some talking points for his homily about how compatible we are. This priest TOLD ALL OF OUR GUESTS MY ENTIRE CONFESSION!
After my wedding I ceased going to church, because I lost my faith in the church. My question is, how can I ever learn to trust another priest again when something so personal was violated in front of hundreds of people?
Violation of the seal is super serious. I'm super sorry that happened to you and don't know how I can bring you to be able to trust priests again, but as a matter of justice you can bring it to the bishop and it will be dealt with.
I heard once that the "No meat on Friday" rule was actually a form of lobbying by the fishing industry in the Old days - curious to hear your comment and if the Church believes it has a greater meaning?
Edit: sorry I think you say in your intro you wont be answering these questions, fair enough
Nope, not accurate, iirc fish was more accessible to poor people so it made rich people who had access to meat eat what the poor people had to. the good people at /r/catholicism would know more though
1) what are your thoughts on the rosary? i think some people actually enjoy doing it but its like punishment to me.
2) how "catholic" can you be if you go on regular basis but dont believe everything.. for example i have a really hard time taking transubstantiation seriously. If two people were in line and one had a horrible allergy to meat/flesh, and one had a horrible allergy for bread, would you let them take the communion? (oh and i think meat guy would be just fine). its a lovely symbolic thing but i cant buy that its "magic".
3) when you go to see a band do you ever stay for the whole show? was thinking. you might have a huge urge to leave during the last song along with your deacon buddy.
1) When the rosary is viewed as a way to meditate on the parts of Jesus' life rather than a set number of prayers you're forced to say, it's a lot more spiritual of an experience!
2) As far as teachings go, the Eucharist is kinda one of the top ones. If God is omnipotent, why couldn't He miraculously have bread become His Body and Blood? For those who are gluten-intolerant they can receive under the form of wine or we have special low-gluten hosts.
As someone who isn’t religious in the least bit, how was it meeting the Pope?
He seems like a cool dude to sit and chat with.
He felt like a grandpa! A bit shorter than I expected, though.
Do you write the homily beforehand and do you ever have trouble coming up with stuff to say? Do you ever get nervous up at the altar?
I'd be nervous writing and giving a 15 minute homily every Sunday in front of hundreds of people.
It depends on the week. Sometimes I'll have a fully prepared text, sometimes I'll have an outline in my head and just send it. Sometimes I have nothing and just have to trust in the Holy Spirit and see what happens! I usually preach around 8 minutes.
I'm not Catholic but was educated by the Jesuits. Given that the Jesuits have a far longer path to full ordination compared to Diocesan priests, do you think that the standard path is possibly too short?
Different people are prepared for different missions and need different training because of that!
What do you think about the pope disappearing into thin air after the last Easter ( I think it was the last Easter)?
Why does the church interior look so dark now with those odd pics and the snake head?
Most priests disappear after Easter because Holy Week is a super busy time. Taking time off after Easter is common.
I presume you're referring to the Paul VI audience hall and that effect of a snake doesn't appear in person; it's just when you use a fisheye lens on a camera.
So far, how is the life of a priest meeting your expectations? Is it what you expected? Have you had any "why didn't anyone warn me
not about this" moments?
Being ordained a priest in spring 2020 as covid was raging meant that a lot of what I thought priesthood would look like was just not the case for the first year. Meeting people was more difficult and a big part of being a parish priest is being able to know and love your parishioners! Other than that, there are certain things that seminary just can't prepare you for - we did like 30 different roleplayed confession scenarios, but that obviously can't cover everything and a roleplay of someone saying they're abusing their kid is very different than that actually happening, obviously!
edit: sometimes we'd hear "the priesthood is difficult" and it was easy to say "yeah but it'll be a satisfying difficult!" but sometimes it is just plain difficult! and that's ok!
How can you justify your religion and continue to practice knowing people in your role have caused devastating, life-ruining harm through sexual abuse?
Personal faith aside, why continue to support the Catholic organization?
Hi there! As religion is on the decline nowadays, do you feel judged sometimes when you tell people your profession?
What do you look forward to in your day to day at church?
Yeah, it's easy to want to hide it when out and about and avoid the discussion but also a lot of fruitful discussions have come from it!
I love encountering people and helping them flourish, especially through the sacrament of confession.
Why does the church protect pedophiles by moving them to different parishes?
If you know where that is happening call law enforcement and then let me know so I can call law enforcement too!
What’s your thoughts on metal music?
when the winged hussars arrived
Since you were a former mod at r/linuxmasterrace, are there many applications like Logos and Accordance for working with Hebrew and Greek?
The best tool I've ever had for working with Latin is Whittaker's Words.
Do you and the other priests ever consider brewing beer like the Trappist monks?
I have homebrewed before!
Do you get any days off? Thank you for being a priest.
Yes, I get Thursdays off each week.
How heavy is the cross you bear?
Well I can squat 365
Do you think faith is a reliable pathway to truth?
probably wouldn't have promised a life of celibacy if I didn't!
Dear Sir, From a Protestant looking in, (if this is a doctrinal question, please ignore it) why is Mary more revered than Jesus.? Thank you
She's not! It might look that way sometimes but love for Mary should always lead to Jesus, and if it doesn't people are doing it wrong.
If you saw a fellow priest raping a child would you,
a) report them to the police?
b) report them to a senior priest?
c) do nothing?
Call the police, probably beat the hell out of the rapist, and then notify church authorities after that.
What percent of kids can spell supplication right?
(This is specifically for Fr. Paul as he posted recently about kids not spelling it right.)
How do you see the Catholic Church surviving the next two generations? I was raised Catholic, and have no interest in passing it on to my children, and will actively avoid promoting the organized religion (Roman Catholic). And I do not know anyone in my peer group (30-40 age) practicing.
I think so, though it will get a bit smaller.
Do you see priesthood as a career as well as a vocation? ie do you want to be promoted, is your endgame bishop or cardinal or even the big chair itself?
Being a bishop is a lot of paperwork and doesn't sound like a lot of fun!
Do you know where the priest who abused me as a teen is? I need to have a good talk with him...
No, but if you find out and tell me I'll report him to law enforcement.
How does getting paid work? Or do you even get paid? Sorry for the dumb question
I make around $36,000 USD per year salary.
Why don't you guys have beards (like most other holy men)?
Where does your income come from and is it liveable?
I'm paid from the donations that people make weekly to the Church and yes, it's enough to life comfortably but not luxuriously.
Who's your favorite fictional priest in movies/shows?
Father Ted from Father Ted, and the priest in Gran Torino. Also the guy in Daredevil.
Do you think it’s fair that priests aren’t allowed to marry or have significant others?
It's a choice I freely made!
What if someone confesses about murders to a priest?
Are you supposed to report them?
Nope, can't do anything that would betray a penitent. I would of course do all in my power to convince them to turn themself in, though.
How long from the point of a priest being notified of intent to convert to confirmation does it take in your diocese, provided there is no RCIA for the convert?
All depends on the individual, there's no diocesan policy on a minimum length of time. If they're someone who grew up with strong faith and through reading, etc found they believe in Catholicism, could just be two or three months; or if they don't really know anything about Catholicism or Christianity, a year or so.
Yeah, can you just fuck right off with the tax exemption bullshit?
The Church is a non-profit organization just like any other, so I'm not sure why we're so special in that regard. I also actually pay about twice as much in taxes as other people in my salary bracket due to the way clergy are taxed on their income.
Why are Christian anti-science?
Look up Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaitre and get back to me
What's it like being a Catholic after the last few years has exposed that your entire organization is nothing more than a front for child abuse?
I've answered questions asked about this topic in good faith elsewhere in the thread, and if you can't be civil won't be dignifying yours with a response.
Ok, since someone has to do it, let's get the obvious one out of the way:
How often do you walk into a bar with a rabbi and a minister?
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