What does a priest do all day?
Ask ten different priests about their schedule, and you will receive ten different answers! Like most professionals, how a priest spends his day ‘at work’ is not necessarily a standard answer. Because priests are individuals with distinct talents and interests, a day can look different for any priest, even those that live in the same rectory!
That being said, there are also some similarities and a ‘typical’ schedule to a parish priest’s day. For most priests ministering in a parish, the average day might look something like this:
Monday – Friday (a priest will have a day off during the week)
6-8 am Rise and prepare for the celebration of morning Mass. Many priests will include in their morning preparation their time of personal prayer, which becomes the foundation for their day.
8-10 am Typically a priest will celebrate Mass between these morning hours. There are also some parishes that celebrate an evening daily Mass one or two days of the week.
10 am-12 noon If there is a funeral, this would be the usual time to celebrate the Mass for the deceased and their grieving family. A priest might also utilize this time for office work or preparation for his bulletin article, homily preparation, staff development, building issues, visiting the parish school, visit parishioners or perform other ministries within the parish.
12 noon-1 pm Everyone needs to eat, so this also true for the parish priest! A little fuel for the body will give him the energy he needs for the remainder of his day. This might also be a time for rest, exercise, or prayer.
1-4 pm Many people look to their parish priest for assistance and spiritual guidance. During this time, a priest may have several appointments from members of his parish, for reasons ranging from spiritual direction, staff issues, building issues, school issues, Archdiocesan issues, marriage counseling…if you can think of a need, a priest will be called upon to offer his help.
4-7 pm It can be rather difficult to work on a homily while in the office, so many priests will take advantage of this time to return to the rectory to work on those areas of his ministry which require more privacy and fewer interruptions. He may also use this as a time for prayer, meetings, exercise, or rest. Dinner will be on his agenda as well!
7-10 pm Depending on the day, this is the time when a priest in a parish meets with his parishioners for the many scheduled meetings which take place. Examples of a parishes monthly meetings would be Parish Council, Worship/Education/Christian Service/Administration Commissions, School Committee, and any variety of parish organization meetings as well. This would also be a very busy time for a priest to again meet with parishioners, engaged couples, and others.
10 pm-? After a long day of working ‘in the vineyard’, a priest will find his way back to his rectory for some personal time and then to bed for a night of hopefully restful sleep.
One of his last prayers before his evening comes to a close, comes from Night Prayer in the Liturgy of Hours: “Protect us Lord as we stay awake, watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep rest in his peace.” Amen!