If You Can't Get Into The Peace Corps…What About The Priest Corps?

Have you ever noticed how every organization having to do with service or goodness or overseas is someway linked to The Peace Corps! First there was the “domestic” Peace Corps, VISTA; then came National Service, and all those other peace -corps-like-programs, either academic or short term or do-this-and-you’ll-feel-good-programs. Enough already!

Well, recently I read about the Priest Corps.

Some of you might have heard of Father Andrew Greeley, a Catholic priest, who was (and might still be) on the staff of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and who is a professor at the University of Arizona. I read his book, PRIESTS: A Calling in Crisis that was published in 2004 by the University of Chicago. In this book, according to Publishers Weekly, “Greeley draws upon the tools of his trade to challenge some stereotypes of the priesthood.”

What interested me was one of his “policy implications for dealing with the problems” of the Catholic Church, i.e., priest pedophiles.  Father Greeley writes, “I have advocated for three decades the establishment of a Priest Corps, something like the Peace Corps–a group of young men who are willing to commit themselves to a limited term of service to the Church in the priesthood, say for five or ten years, renewable.”

Greeley suggests, “My Priest Corps scheme would merely require that the Church treat them honorably and that there would be periodic moments when they could review and renew their commitment. Theologically, they might still be priests and even be called on occasionally to exercise ministry. In practice they would be men who serve generously for a time and go on to other careers.”

So, give it a try. If you aren’t the right sex I’m sure that pretty soon we’ll have the Nun Corps!


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  • Good grief Charlie Brown, this idea of a ‘priest corps’ has been around the Catholic Church and other for centuries. During my 27 years in overseas development work, I have encountered hundreds of religious orders and organizations which privide priests and other religious workers with an opportunity to serve mankind. Has Fr. Greeley never heard of Mother Teresa and her little band of nuns? What about Father Joe Maier, the slum priest of Bangkok? The list goes on.
    W. Timmons

  • Bill–what I think Father Greeley has in mind is the ‘short-term’ priesthood, not a lifetime of vows to the calling.

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