What is a ministerial priest in the Roman Catholic Church?
A ministerial priest in the Roman Catholic Church is a man, who through the divine power of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is configured to Christ and exercises the ministries of teaching, prayer and worship, and pastoral leadership for the People of God. He exercises this ministry most especially through the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments.
What is the difference between a Diocesan Priest and a Religious Priest?
There are primarily two categories of priests: diocesan and religious. A diocesan priest is ordained to serve within a certain geographical area called a diocese; in our case, the Archdiocese of San Francisco which is made up of San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties. The bishop is the primary pastor of a diocese, but since a diocese is large, he ordains priests to help him carry out the work of preaching the Gospel and sanctifying the People of God. Most diocesan priests carry out this work as parish priests. Some diocesan priests also minister in special roles such as teaching or ministering to the sick in hospitals.
A religious priest belongs first and foremost to a religious order, like the Franciscans. As a member of his religious community, he then might be ordained to serve as a priest from his particular community. Religious priests sometimes work in parishes, but their work usually has a more missionary ‘flavor’ as they could serve in a variety of ministries throughout their lifetime.