Ask two different priests about their schedule, and you will receive two 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 priests’ day. For most priests’ ministering in a parish, the average day would look something like this:
(A priest will have 1 day off during the week)
6am – 8
Rise from sleep and prepare for the celebration of morning mass. Many priests will take advantage of their morning preparation as also their time of personal prayer…which becomes the foundation for their day
8 – 10
Typically between these morning hours would be the time that most parishes celebrate the Eucharist. There are also some parishes who celebrate an evening daily mass on one or two days of the week.
10 – 12
If there is a funeral, this would be the usual time to celebrate the Mass for the deceased and their grieving family. A priest would also utilize this time for office work or preparation for his bulletin article, homily prep, staff development, building issues, visiting the parish school, visit parishioners or perform another ministry within the parish.
12pm – 1
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
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
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 his rectory to work on those areas of his ministry which require more privacy and less 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
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, etc.
10 – ?
After a long day of working ‘in the vineyard’, a priest will find his way back to his rectory for some personal time (reading, music, TV, etc.) 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.”
In addition to his personal prayer, a priest will be ready for the celebration of any combination of the following: Funeral, Wedding, Baptism, Confession and/or personal appointment(s). The day will culminate with the celebration of the Sunday Vigil Mass
Most priests will celebrate 2-3 masses on a Sunday morning with the people of his parish. The Sunday Eucharist brings together all the people of his faith community: parish staff that assist in the management and ministry of the parish and the many dedicated volunteers who assist in the celebration of the Eucharist each and every Sunday. There might also be parish functions that take place on a Sunday afternoon as well. The remainder of the day might be used for rest or time with family or friends….but mostly rest!