Proper Letter-Writing Etiquette to a Catholic Priest

Writing a letter to a priest is similar to writing any business letter.
... Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Writing a letter to a Catholic priest is similar to writing any business or formal letter. Standard letter formatting is appropriate. In addition, using the proper title for address and the appropriate level of familiarity with the priest is important.

1 General Letter Writing Etiquette

Any formal letter should be written on letterhead. To make your own, type your name and contact information either centered or aligned to the left side of the paper. The letterhead, as its name implies, should be at the top of the page. Follow that by the full name and address of the priest you are addressing. Do not indent paragraphs. Instead leave an extra line between paragraphs. Leave one inch margins all around your letter. Use a standard, 12-point font if you're typing your letter.

2 Addressing Clergy

Catholic priests are addressed as Father. Follow the title by the priest's first and last name or just the last name, depending on how well you know him. As a general rule of thumb, address the letter the same way you would address the person face-to-face. If you wouldn't call the priest in question by his first name in person, don't do it in a letter either.

3 Salutations and Closings

Letters start with a salutation and end with a closing. The universal salutation is the word "Dear." Follow "Dear" with the title "Father" and the priest's first and last name, if you are unacquainted or not well acquainted with him. If you are better acquainted with the priest, you may use his surname after "Dear Father." A good general closing for a formal or business letter to a priest is "Yours sincerely," followed by your first and last name. Only the first word in the closing is capitalized.

4 The Envelope

Regardless of how well-acquainted you are with the priest, address the envelope formally. Use the title "Father," followed by the priest's first and last name. Below the priest's name, write the name of the parish and then the address of the parish. Put your full name, the name of your organization if you are representing one and your return address in the upper-left corner of the envelope.

Shaunta Alburger has been a professional writer for 15 years. She's worked on staff at both major Las Vegas newspapers, as well as a rural Nevada weekly. Her first novel was published in 2014.