The Jewish faith incorporates the old Jews’ philosophy and history. It arose from the ancient Hebrews’ belief in a monotheistic God revealed to them by the Hebrew prophets Abraham, Moses, and others who lived according to the religious Scriptures. It has a priest who serves as the spiritual leader of the congregation by performing religious rites, leading masses, and teaching religious doctrines and practices. I approached Fr. Thomas Wenski, Ph.D. of St Augustine Church & Catholic Student Center in the Archdiocese of Miami for an interview to determine the duties and obligations of the priesthood of the Jewish faith. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 21, 1984, and received his episcopal consecration on May 6, 1990. His passion for priesthood developed during his youthful years when served as part of the liturgical members in the daily mass at church. He says he enjoyed mass and procession and this made him join St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he obtained his degree in Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy which later led to his ordination.
Duties and responsibilities
To know what his schedule as a priest consisted of, I asked Fr. Thomas, “what are your major duties and responsibilities?” Fr. Thomas answered, “I lead daily mass, hear confessions on every Saturday, give counseling on various issues and also I give spiritual guidance.” He later adds that “I also visit the sick in hospitals and nursing homes in the region and do prayers for them.” He guides the community in teaching them the church doctrines and practices, he says, “I teach the catechism every Saturday to the adults and children.” As part of his schedule, he also leads in various religious rituals and in accordance with the church practice, he adds, “I do baptism to new converts who have had catechism classes, witness marriages and even carry out burials and funerals whenever needed.” A priest also plays the role of a leader, Fr. Thomas says, “I participate in several parish and diocesan meetings here in Miami”. He adds, “I also do theological and spiritual readings”.
To know what was the most interesting part of his job, I asked Fr. Thomas, “what do you enjoy most about your job?”. Fr. Thomas answered, “Saying and administering the holy sacrament is what I like most during masses, I like how we humbly bow and respect the sacred sacrament and how the congregation participates in reciting the prayers.”
As a priest, he faces a few challenges in the calling to serve God, Fr. Thomas answered the question, “What is the hardest part of your job as a priest?”, and said, “hostility from the members of the church is a big problem in my service to preach the gospel, and even from other non-members who criticize the job. I get a hard time in getting the people respond to church requirements, like church meetings, choirs, and even others who don’t come to church, it gets a big task to convince them back to church to the ways of God”. He adds, “but I don’t lose hope in the work but to respond to my inner calling to bring the lost sheep back to the ways of God.”
Priesthood and the clergy at large have a calling to serve God and preach the gospel to the people. As with Fr. Thomas, it is a busy job that needs the heart to commitment and the will to work as obliged by their duties and responsibilities. As with the Lord, every clergy is commanded to ‘stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling’ (D&C 84:109).
Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 48–56, (web.2017)
Matt, S. Robert, L. &Trey, P. (2014). The Book of Mormon