Pastor/Priest Reverend/Father

On our chuch’s weekly newsflyer it always says;

  • Pastor: Rev. Name Here
  • Deacon: Rev. Name Here

As far as I know, a Pastor is leader of a Protestant, Methodist or Baptist church, is called Reverend, and is *not *ordained to do the Sacraments by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet everyone in church calls the Priest ‘Priest’, addresses him as Father, and he certainly dresses talks and behaves like a Priest. And of course, he does the Sacraments.

So my questions are;

  • Are the names Priest/Pastor, Father/Reverend interchangeable within the RCC?
  • Does it matter what he’s called?
  • Is this just some mistake by the secretary do you think?
  • Or, hate to think it but… could we be recieving Sacraments from someone who is *not *ordained by the RCC? Which in my mind means we’re recieving no Sacrament at all…

It’s probably a petty thing but it’s really bugging me… :shrug:

The formal title for a priest is Reverend (Rev. John Doe)

Likewise, the formal title for a Deacon is Reverend Mister (Rev Mr John Smith)

The parish newletter is quite correct (except that you noted they didn’t include the ‘Mr.’ after Rev for the parish Deacon. ) check the newletter on that, it might be a typo.

In more informal circumstances, you address a priest as “Father”

Not quite.

Reverend is an official title for those in major orders. There are lots of variations, so in some places a deacon is “Reverend Mister,” but not everywhere. Bishops in some places are “Right Reverend” but in other place it’s different “His Grace,” or “His Excellency,” and so on.

Reverend is a third-person title though. I would refer to my parish priest at “The Reverend Thomas ______.”

((Some bishops want their deacons to be called “Deacon ___.” It’s weird IMHO because we don’t call priests, “Priest Joseph Johnson,” but anyway.))

But I call my pastor “Father ____.” (I believe in the tradition of referring to secular clergy by last name. Referring by religious first name is appropriate for religious priests, IMHO. But really I’ll refer to a priest as he asks me to, of course.)

A pastor is not just any priest. It does mean “shepherd,” but in canon law it refers to a priest specifically appointed to lead a parish. Other priests appointed to help him are “parochial vicars.”

These are all translations anyway of the official Latin title.

Clerus is anyone in major orders, diaconus is specifically a deacon, presbyter is a priest specifically, sacerdos is anyone with priestly orders (including a bishop). They are all called, in the third person, “Reverendus,” which really means “one who is to be revered.”

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

PASTOR. An individual priest or a corporate person (religious order or community) to whom a parish has been entrusted by a bishop, with the rights and responsibilities conferred by canon law and the statutes of the diocese. (Etym. Latin pastor, shepherd; literally, feeder.)

Yes, many non-Catholic ecclesial communities adopted the term “pastor” as they came into existence.

Pastor, in Catholic teaching and canon law, means something very specific. A pastor has juridic and pastoral oversight of, for example, a parish. If your parish has more than one priest only one of them is the pastor. He is in charge, he is sent by the bishop to that parish to oversee it. He has canonical authority over the parish.

Yes, many non-Catholic ecclesial communions also co-opted this term for their clergy as well. It comes from the Latin reverendus. It simply means “respected or honored” such as when we call a judge “Your Honor”.

It is how one addresses written correspondence to a priest, bishop, etc. Just as there are rules of ettiquette for addressing a Judge, Doctor, Lawyer, etc.


Not all priests are pastors, but all pastors are priests in the Catholic Church. So, yes, your pastor is a priest.

Yes, Reverend is the written salutation, and Father is the spoken salutation.


Pastor - only that person assigned by the Bishop to have jurisdiction over a parish (or some other jurisdiction defined in Canon Law). Your pastor is a priest.

Priest - one who is ordained to the priesthood.

Reverend- an honorific title used in written correspondence

Father - an honorific title used as a spoken salutation



I have no idea how on earth you could have drawn such a conclusion.

To be honest with you, I only ever heard of a Catholic priest being called “Pastor” when I joined these forums! Ha! I was only familiar with “Parish Priest” and “Vicar”! Even then, I thought “Vicar” was a bit too Protestant!

My bulletin in my parish, however, says “Parish Priest: the Reverend Father Brennan Johnson” (name is an example). Some parishes have it written as “Vicar: Fr Brennan Johnson”, the Basilica we have uses “Parish Priest: the Reverend Father Brennan Johnson, Genera Vicar of the Basilica Parish” or variations. The Archbishop uses “His Grace” or “His Lordship”.

Titles are more geographically based if anything, they all mean the same thing!

As long as the secretary isn’t drinking and addresses Father and “Sister Brennan”, I’m fine with Vicar or Parish Priest or even Pastor, though it’s uncommon.

What I was taught, which may or may not be right…when addressing a priest in person, he is called Father X, a deacon is called Deacon X, a bishop is called Excellency or simply Bishop.

However, in mailings, the envelope reads

Rev. x for priest,
Rev. Mr. For deacon
And The Most Rev. X for bishop

Clear as mud, right? :stuck_out_tongue:

If you look in the “ask an Apologist” forum, I had asked a similar question :slight_smile:

In my parish, the “Pastor” is the priest offcially in charge of that parish (like the “high priest”, so to speak). It does not mean we call him “Pastor So-and-So”.

Since we have had at times 2-3 priests assigned to our parish, we need to officially have one who is “in charge” - - - that is the Pastor of the parish. That determination is made by the bishop.

What we call pastor in the USA, Catholics in the UK and countries in its commonwelath call parish priest. Both are translations of the term parochius in Latin.

I was under the impression that in Britain the title “Vicar” is what we Americans would call “Pastor”. The person appointed by the Bishop to be in charge of the parish.

Yes and no. You will find mainly Anglicans/Methodists in the UK & Commonwealth (Canada, Australia, New Zealand)call their “ministers” Vicar, whereas Priests are referred to as the “Parish Priest”, though Vicar is common too, like I said, though it is the equivalent to pastor.

In Canada, Catholics actually use the title pastor. In my archdiocese, pastor is the legal title for the priest in charge of the parish.

That’s odd! I know in Newfoundland, my province, they don’t. Thanks for letting me know, though!

Your comments are very appreciated:)

That is true in Canon Law, but often not as a term of address.

An interesting side note, I go on yearly mission trips to Tanzania.

The Swahili term for “Father” is “Baba”

There is an actual term of address for a pastor, “Baba Paroka” or “Father Pastor”

A bishop is addressed ( in person) as “Baba Askofu” or “Father Bishop”

A further side note is that in Africa, the term “Baba” encompasses great respect, it is a praise title.

In some regions, mostly within the Orthodox Church, it is common to refer to a deacon as “Father” or “Father Deacon.”

Don’t you think your Bishop would have noticed if a non-Catholic had taken up residence in your rectory and church?

You’re worrying way too much. If the bishop recognizes your parish, you’re fine (even then, some churches outside union with Rome have legitimate Sacraments, not that you should go to one of these churches).

Slavu Isusu Khristu!
(Glory to Jesus Christ)!