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Father Dave Answers Questions on Priesthood from ‘Maternity Leave Matt’

While Busted Halo Show producer Krista LePard is out on maternity leave, our temporary producer, “Maternity Leave Matt” has some questions of faith for Father Dave:

Matt asks, “When you became a priest, did you stop being Dave Dwyer and become [solely] Father Dave? Do your friends or family call you Father Dave or are you still Dave to some people?”

Father Dave first answers this question from a broader theological perspective. “The Sacrament of Holy Orders is for a deacon, a priest and a bishop; you’d have Holy Orders for all those three. We believe that, like the Sacrament of Baptism, it does make an indelible change. So we would call it an ontological, meaning at the very essence of a human person, an ontological change, which cannot be undone or reversed.”

WATCH: Holy Orders in 2 Minutes

In other words, even if someone leaves the priesthood or if a layperson decides to leave the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Sacrament of Baptism cannot be undone. Father Dave adds, “The sacraments leave an indelible mark on the souls when we talk about Baptism and when we talk about Holy Orders; it’s an ontological change. So in some ways, yes, I ceased being the prior version of me and I’m now a different me.”

Father Dave is still, however, Dave to good friends and family members. “In fact, my sister and my mother were really the only people in my adult life who called me David, because that’s leftover from back when we were all much younger.”

Matt’s second question is, “What brought you to be a Paulist – and what’s the difference between Paulists, Jesuits, etc.?”

Father Dave responds, “The jargony word we would use in the Catholic Church is called “charism:” Each of the different orders have a slightly different way, mission, approach, origin story, and all that kind of stuff. In the same way that you might say, ‘What’s the difference between all the superheroes?’ They all fight crime and save the world, but they each get a little different origin story and a different uniform, and, you know, that kind of thing.”

RELATED: What Is a Charism? Understanding Our Holy Traditions

Father Dave gives a few examples of some of the different orders but reminds us that these are broad brush strokes. Franciscans are living out the vow of poverty, Dominicans are the Order of Preachers and tend to be fairly academic and intellectual, and Jesuits usually work in universities and tend to also hold other roles, like professors, physicists, or astronomers, in addition to priesthood.   

The Paulist Fathers are missionaries who take a vow of stability, meaning they’re going to stay in one place and stay connected and rooted there. Father Dave was drawn to the Paulists because of their reputation of working in media. He’d been working in television and radio and wanted to continue doing that when he became a priest. 

Father Dave reiterates, “The charisms are really different ways in which people can serve the Church; different ways in which people can live out their Catholic faith. In the same way that Catholics who have not joined a religious community might prefer parish A over parish B, because parish A has a lot going on with social justice and serving the poor and parish B has a great music ministry and a Latin Mass – there are always going to be different things that are under the big tent of Catholicism that will connect or be more attractive to someone, whether you’re talking about just a Catholic in the pews, or someone that’s living out their life.”