When one hears of the word "priest", the image entering the mind is that of a parish priest. All priests by the grace of their ordination are able to make Jesus truly present in the Eucharist at Mass, give absolution for sins, baptize, and join a man and a woman in the sacrament of Marriage. But not all priests do the same type of work, but their mission or purpose is one: to bring the faithful through their everyday lives, closer to Christ. These are priests (along with deacons and bishops) who join a diocese or archdiocese. They have lifelong commitments to celibacy and obedience to their (Arch)bishop.
The primary ministry of a Diocesan (from the Greek word “to keep house”) Priest is one of being available and involved in the day-to-day lives of people, thus helping the local bishop to “keep house” in the family of God who struggle to live out the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ).
Generally they minister within the geographic confines of their (arch)diocese. They have the primary responsibility of meeting the spiritual needs of the Catholics in their diocese. Generally, but not always, this means parish ministry. A parish (from the Greek “a dwelling beside or near”) Priest lives near the people he is involved with.
The diocesan priest may operate in the parish as a Pastor, or as Associate Pastor, spending a considerable amount of time in parish administration, social work, and administering the sacraments. He may also be asked to undertake other ministries such as teaching, or serving as campus minister, or chaplain at a hospital, military base or prison. Others may work in different offices of the Archdiocese such as Vocations Office, Marriage Tribunal, Office of Communications, Youth Ministry, etc.
A diocesan priest ordinarily serves within the diocese for which he is ordained. He makes a commitment to his arch(bishop). He does not, however have to take a vow of poverty. Instead he is paid a salary from which he pays his personal needs.
The presence of a diocesan priest represents the presence of the Church, the Church that is ever beside its member through the successes and failures, joys and sorrows of life.
A central responsibility of a diocesan priest is prayer. As a pastor, a diocesan priest is the shepherd of his parish community, thus responsible for the spiritual growth and welfare of the community in his care. It is then of most importance that he takes time to pray for his flock, and to pray that he is leading and guiding them along the right path to Christ.
A diocesan priest may live with one or two other priests in a rectory, but many times he lives alone. The diocesan priest generally stays within the geographical bounds of the (arch)diocese for which they are ordained.
Diocesan priests do not make vows like that of religious priests, sisters and brothers. Upon ordination, promises of obedience to their bishop, and to live a life of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God.
In short, the Diocesan Priest is a mixture of collaborative leadership, making the richness of Scripture and Tradition available through preaching and teaching, and compassionate pastoral care. In all these tasks, he is someone who bears the imprint of the Gospel in prayer and action in a world of very secular values.