Most people have some idea of what a priest is, but most are at a loss when asked what a religious brother is.
Brothers and priests share a common identity as members of a specific religious community. The real difference is what the discernment process leads the person to understand their calling to be.
- Both brothers and priests take the same three vows of the religious congregation: poverty, chastity and obedience.
- They are full members and share the same rights and responsibilities of the religious community to which they belong.
- Priests are ordained and celebrate the sacraments where brothers are not ordained and therefore do not function as priests.
- Spiritan brothers and priests are missionaries, teachers, administrators, spiritual directors, health care workers and advocates for the poor and marginalized.
While someone may enter the community thinking they want to be ordained, they may discern that they are not called to ordination or vice versa. Brotherhood and priesthood are two different vocations and are discerned within the community in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection. The initial training for brothers and priests is almost identical. Both receive theological training in light of their future ministry. While priesthood candidates have a structured course of studies that is required for ordination, brothers have a great deal of freedom as to what they choose to specialize in. Some brothers may decide to become doctors or medical workers, lawyers, development specialists, or teachers. Priest candidates may also pursue a variety of specializations as well, but it is assumed they will always exercise their priestly role in the community to which they are assigned.Brothers are not "un-ordained" Priests. The brotherhood is a unique and sacred calling to a radical availability for the Gospel, a life which they live out in the service of the community which they are called to serve.