Why Do Catholics…Part 4 – Call Priests Father?

“So Father Andrew doesn’t have any kids, right?”

“That’s right, Sweetie.”

“He’s not even married, right?”

“Right, priests don’t get married.”

“So…..why do we call him Father?”

An excellent question and you’d better have your ducks in a row if you are going to get this one right!  So why do we call priests Father?  Here’s a kid-friendly answer:

Priests are called to be “married” to the Church so in that sense, they are called to minister to all the people priest1of the church.   And in fact, priests have many of the qualities that fathers have:

  1. Priests are supposed to be self-sacrificing and ever-giving like a father is to his own child.
  2. Fathers physically feed their children.  In the same way, priests bring the Body of Christ to us in every mass.
  3. A father will bring new children into the world.  This is just the same as through baptism, by priest, they bring new children of God in the Church.
  4. Fathers also give their children council and guidance and in just the same way, priests work to shepherd the flock of God’s people.


Even the Bible talks about calling leaders, Father.  As in Corinthians,  Paul tells new Christians that “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”


Some people disagree with this saying that Jesus said to call no one father besides God in Heaven, but taken in context, he was talking about putting others on a pedestal and giving them undue honor.

In calling priests “Father” we do give them great honor as one of the spiritual leaders of the church, but we also give them a great responsibility.  As you know from your own family, fathers are great servants of their families, often sacrificing what they want to do for the good of his children.  So too are priests.  Pray for the spiritual fathers of our Church as you would pray for the fathers in your life.  They need prayers in leading the congregation as much as fathers who tuck in their children at night.

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