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Vicar vs. Curate: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 20, 2024
A vicar is a senior parish priest in the Anglican Church responsible for a parish, while a curate is a clergy member assisting the parish priest, often in training for future pastoral duties.

Key Differences

A vicar is a senior clergy member in the Anglican Church who has the responsibility of overseeing a parish and its congregation. Vicars are usually appointed to a specific parish and hold the main pastoral duties, including leading services, preaching, and providing spiritual guidance to their parishioners. A curate, on the other hand, is typically a clergy member who assists the parish priest or vicar. Curates are often in the early stages of their ecclesiastical career, gaining practical experience and training under the supervision of a more senior clergy member.
While the vicar holds a permanent position and has overall authority in the parish, the curate usually serves a temporary role, often lasting a few years, as part of their preparation for future leadership positions. The relationship between the vicar and curate is typically one of mentorship, with the vicar providing guidance and support to the curate.
In terms of responsibilities, the vicar is more likely to be involved in administrative and decision-making aspects of parish life, whereas the curate focuses more on learning and assisting in pastoral activities. Vicars have greater autonomy and are the primary representatives of the parish, while curates are seen as learning and developing within their role.
The distinction between these roles highlights the hierarchical structure within the Anglican Church, where the vicar's experience and position are contrasted with the curate's role as an emerging clergy member gaining hands-on experience.

Comparison Chart

Role in Church

Senior parish priest
Assistant clergy member


Leading services, pastoral care
Assisting in services, gaining experience

Position Type


Level of Experience

Senior, experienced
Junior, in training


Holds main authority in parish
Under supervision of vicar

Vicar and Curate Definitions


A representative or deputy of a bishop in certain churches.
The vicar attended the diocesan meeting on behalf of the bishop.


A clergy member assisting a parish priest.
The curate helped organize the community outreach program.


A clergy member appointed to a specific parish.
The new vicar has already made significant improvements to the church.


A clergy member in the early stages of their career.
The curate is learning under the supervision of an experienced vicar.


A senior parish priest in the Anglican Church.
The vicar led the Sunday service with a heartfelt sermon.


An assistant to the vicar in parish duties.
The curate visits the sick and elderly in the parish.


The main pastoral authority in a parish.
The vicar provides spiritual guidance to the congregation.


A cleric, especially one who has charge of a parish.


An Anglican parish priest in a parish where historically someone other than the priest was entitled to the tithes.


A cleric who assists a rector or vicar.


A cleric in charge of a chapel in the Episcopal Church of the United States.


To organize and oversee (an art exhibit or film festival, for example).


An Anglican or Roman Catholic cleric who acts for or represents another, often higher-ranking member of the clergy.


To gather and present to the public
A blog that curates news stories.


In the Church of England, the priest of a parish, receiving a salary or stipend but not tithes.


An assistant rector or vicar.


In the Roman Catholic and some other churches, a cleric acting as local representative of a higher ranking member of the clergy.


A parish priest.


A person acting on behalf of, or representing, another person.


(Ireland) An assistant barman.


One deputed or authorized to perform the functions of another; a substitute in office; a deputy.


(inorganic chemistry) An oxyanion of curium; any salt containing such an anion. Category:en:Radioactivity


The incumbent of an appropriated benefice.


(transitive) To act as a curator for.
She curated the traveling exhibition.
They carefully curated the recovered artifacts.


A Roman Catholic priest who acts for another higher-ranking clergyman


To apply selectivity and taste to, as a collection of fashion items or web pages.


(Episcopal Church) a clergyman in charge of a chapel


(intransitive) To work or act as a curator.
Not only does he curate for the museum, he manages the office and fund-raises.


(Church of England) a clergyman appointed to act as priest of a parish


One who has the cure of souls; originally, any clergyman, but now usually limited to one who assists a rector or vicar.
All this the good old man performed alone,He spared no pains, for curate he had none.


An ecclesiastical leader responsible for a parish.
As vicar, she oversees all activities within the parish.


A person authorized to conduct religious worship


A trainee priest gaining practical experience.
The young curate delivered his first sermon last week.


A temporary assistant in a parish.
The curate will be with the parish for the next two years.


Who has more authority, a vicar or a curate?

A vicar has more authority as the primary leader of the parish.

How long does a curate typically serve in a parish?

Curates usually serve for a few years, often around 2-3 years, before moving on to other roles.

Can a curate become a vicar?

Yes, curates often become vicars after gaining sufficient experience and training.

Do both vicars and curates conduct church services?

Yes, both can conduct services, but the vicar is the main leader.

Is a curate always a trainee?

Generally, yes, curates are in the early stages of their ecclesiastical career and training.

What is the main difference between a vicar and a curate?

A vicar is a senior parish priest, while a curate is an assistant clergy member, often in training.

What are the main duties of a vicar?

Leading services, providing pastoral care, and overseeing parish activities.

Do curates have administrative responsibilities?

Typically, curates focus more on pastoral activities rather than administrative duties.

Can a parish have more than one curate?

Yes, larger parishes may have multiple curates.

Are vicars responsible for administrative duties?

Yes, vicars often handle administrative and decision-making tasks in the parish.

How is a vicar appointed?

Vicars are appointed by a bishop or a higher church authority.

What is the role of a vicar in the community?

Vicars play a significant role in community outreach and providing spiritual leadership.

What are the main duties of a curate?

Assisting in services, visiting parishioners, and gaining practical experience.

How is a curate appointed?

Curates are usually appointed to a parish by the bishop as part of their training program.

What happens after a curate completes their training?

After training, curates may be appointed to their own parish or continue their ecclesiastical career in another role.

Do curates interact with the community?

Yes, curates often engage in community activities and visit parishioners.

Are curates involved in preaching?

Yes, curates are often given opportunities to preach as part of their training.

Do vicars mentor curates?

Yes, vicars typically mentor and guide curates in their development.

What training does a curate undergo?

Curates receive hands-on training in pastoral care, church services, and community engagement.

Can a curate lead a parish temporarily?

Yes, curates can lead services and manage parish duties in the absence of the vicar.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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