Prepare a lesson or part of a lesson that focuses on the theme of pastoral leadership and priesthood today, especially as it connects between teachings from the Pastoral Letters of the New Testament. Some qualities which make up a good priest are drawn from the Letter to Titus.
First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus are called “Pastoral Letters” because they were written by one pastor (shepherd) to two other pastors, Timothy and Titus. The differ from other New Testament letters—both those written by St. Paul and those attributed to him—in that they were addressed to individuals and give great advice on Church leadership. The Pastoral Letters assert that in order for one to be a priest or bishop, he must be a moral exemplar, other-centered, and be willing to undergo any kind of trial for the sake of the Gospel. First Timothy gives guidelines for those chosen to be bishops. Second Timothy describes the end of St. Paul’s ministry and is a reflection on his impending death. The Letter to Titus, the focus here, discusses the qualities necessary for being a good presbyter (priest).
1. Define pastor as “shepherd.” Ask the students to identify images from the Gospels of Christ acting as a shepherd. Ask: Why would “shepherd” be an appropriate name for a leader of the early Church? (Jesus used the metaphor of a shepherd and the flock to describe the relationship to the Apostles and the Apostles’ relationship to the faithful.)
2. Ask the students to write a brief reflection on a priest in their life who has had a positive influence on them. What qualities did that person possess that made him a good religious leader? Allow about five to seven minutes for writing. Then call on volunteers to share their reflections with the class.
3. Refer the students to Titus 1:5-9. Relate this description of presbyters to the student’s reflections and to an understanding of a priest’s mission and ministry today.
There are nine references from the Letter of Titus in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Write them on the board. Ask the students to work individually or with a partner to look up the references from Titus and from the Catechism and explain how each supports a particular teaching about priesthood.
Reference from Titus
Reference from the Catechism
Eligibility for Holy Orders
Instructions for the appointment of presbyters
Self-mastery and renewal
The return of Christ
CCC, 449, 1041, 1130, 1404, 2276, 2818
Christ’s work of Redemption
Baptism as a requirement for God’s kingdom