What is the difference between a priest
and a brother?
A Vincentian priest and brother share the same bond in community;
both take vows, share prayer, community life, and ministry
together. However, brothers do not engage in the same sacramental
ministries as priests such as celebrating the Eucharist, absolving
sins in the sacrament of reconciliation, anointing the sick, or
conferring the sacrament of matrimony. Brothers are engaged in many
Vincentian ministries: parishes, universities, and missions. They
teach, assist in parish life, do social work, as well as a variety
of ministries to the Vincentian community.
How does brother candidate formation differ
from that of a priest candidate?
A brother candidate would take the same steps in terms of inquiry,
discernment application, entrance into initial formation and the
novitiate program. However, since brother candidates are not
studying for the ordained priesthood, they do not usually pursue
theological studies for a professional degree. After novitiate, a
brother candidate would then prepare for readiness to a ministry
agreed upon with the provincial and his counsel. Three years after
novitiate, a brother may petition to take final vows, which are a
permanent bond to the Vincentian community.
Despite differences in their respective
roles, responsibilities and initial formation, are Vincentian
priests and brothers seen as equals in community life?
Yes. St. Vincent de Paul set a standard for the first group of
priests and brothers he gathered around him: “We should live in the
manner of dear friends”, he said. Today, Vincentian priests and
brothers partake in all aspects of community life as equals, and
also work together in ministries that reflect Vincent’s charism of
love of Jesus through service to the poor.