“Priestly Identity” as a Way to Communion with Christ on Mission by Fr. Rich Gabuzda

My notes from Fr. Richard Gabuzda’s article:

5 Priestly Identities:

  • These identities illuminate the priest’s personal relationship with Christ and, thus, also his relationship to the Body of Christ as the priest is on mission with Jesus. These identities are all based on the concrete life of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. These identities are “lived with” Christ (p.55).
  • There is some sequential and developmental ideas in the order, but it is not meant to be overly rigid – no sense that one graduates from one identity or masters one identity before moving onto the next.
  • These identities are ways to assist in the integration of human and spiritual formation. Priestly identities serve as a kind of “middle term” between the priest’s relationship with Christ and his life of active service on mission (RIM). “Communion with Christ” becomes the way the priest receives his identity and also the way in which he lives his mission.
  • The very human activity of the priest is always, at the same time, the activity of Christ in the priest.
  • These identities also provide opportunities for human growth in virtues that accompany those identities as they are lived in mission. We can live these virtues now, prior to sacramental ordination.
  • These identities help remind us of the simple truth: if I know who I am, I know how to act.
  1. Beloved Son: Living Christ’s Own Filial Obedience
    • A seminarian must be well grounded, humanly and spiritually, in the experience and truth of his baptismal identity.
  2. Chaste Spouse: Living Christ’s Own Spousal Love
    • Eventually the seminarian must begin to understand and to “feel” what it is like to be, not only a member of the Body of the faithful, but with Christ as the spouse of the body.
  3. Spiritual Father: Living Christ’s Own Revelation of the Father
    • The fatherhood of the priest is accomplished in the way that Jesus accomplishes it – in communion with His Father.
  4. Spiritual Physician: Living Christ’s Own Mission of Healing Love
  5. Good Shepherd: Living Christ’s Own Pastoral Authority

Questions to ask

  • What are the attitudes, habits, practices, and behaviours that flow from communion with Christ on mission?
  • How does Christ want to form the seminarian in his human person as spouse, shepherd, son, father, and physician so as to be more available to Christ at work on mission through him?
  • What is your experience of Jesus with you on mission now?
  • Did you have a sense of Jesus’ healing presence with you and the patient?


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