Priest

A priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood. In the Christian tradition, priests also have a pastoral role as “shepherds” of the flock of parishioners and are trained to be responsible for the religious instruction of the community through preaching and teachings. In some Christian churches, women have been ordained to priesthood along with men. In the Hindu tradition, the English word priests is often used to refer to pujaris, who are primarily responsible for the daily ritual care of deities in the temple and for ritual (puja), but do not share pastoral or counseling responsibilities. In the Sikh tradition, the granthi who is responsible for the care of the gurdwara and the Guru Granth Sahib is often referred to as a priest in English. In some of the Buddhist traditions of Japan, there are traditions of married clergy who have also come to be called priests. In the Japanese Shinto tradition, there are many ranks, titles, and functions of Shinto priests. Some priestly positions are hereditary, most priests train for their ceremonial, educational, and administrative roles at Shinto institutions. Most priests are men, though women do become priests as well. Shinto priests are allowed to marry. In Haitian vodou, there are male priests (oungan) and female priests (manbo) who invoke the gods, practice divination and healing, and direct the communication of the Divine and human through ceremonies of possession. The priest (babalocha) and priestess (iyalocha) of the Cuban Santería tradition have similar roles, though divination is the special province of diviners called babalaos.