Parish Priests


#1

Sorry if this is in the wrong place…

Why are Priests only allowed to remain in a parish for six years then they have to move or ask for another six years?


#2

It's strictly an arbitrary norm established by the NCCB. A bishop may do otherwise, (although nothing binds his successor to continue to do the same), but most seem to follow the norm. Even then, however, there is nothing that says a priest **must **be transferred after 6 years. The appointment can be, and often is, renewed, and it can happen multiple times. This is particularly true in the case of pastors. But it all depends on the diocese and bishop.


#3

Same Pastor for 23 years and still going strong at my Parish...


#4

We’ve had the same pastor and assistant pastor for 26 years now. They’re the only ones in this archdiocese that I know of who have been in the same parish so long. The pastor is the head of the priests’ council that has input into this…


#5

We had 4 priests with an average duration of 3.25 years. I think the longest was around 4 years. At one previous parish the priest lasted just a year - couldn't take country life. :eek:


#6

My Priest only lasted 3 years, and he was expecting to be there for at least 6, if not longer, because the Priest before him was there for 9 years, along with the Priest before that. Because a new Bishop was appointed, 14 Priests were moved around in the diocese. The Priest that is there now was a Priest at a parish only 30 minutes away, whereas my Priest was moved two hours away, so it just depends. But I will tell you this. He, along with many other Priests were not happy to be moved, especially since some were moved just last year.


#7

Dioceses where most of the clergy are incardinated (i.e. subject to the bishop) in that diocese will often have terms of office for pastors, such as six years. Parishes maintained by religious orders have various means of moving clergy around. Technically, in Canon Law, a pastor is appointed to a parish for life, but in North America, this is quite uncommon.

In a diocese where there is a large number of priests on "loan" from other dioceses, there is inherent instability. When the bishop or superior of the "borrowed" priest calls him back home for whatever reason (commonly such priests have an agreement to stay for a limited number of years), a vacancy is created that sometimes requires the local bishop to shuffle priests around. In these dioceses, priests sometimes move as often as every year or two. Certainly this is an unfortunate situation for both priests and parishes.


#8

So many Dioceses in our Country are suffering from the lack of priests, I often wonder why the shortage can't be helped by recruiting more from the various orders.
My parish is in the bible belt, I have lived here for 13 years and we have had a turn over of six priests, the last one leaving just this past month for the special order of Carmelites.
I am not gettin it! Peace, Carlan


#9

[quote="Discerning13, post:1, topic:336775"]
Sorry if this is in the wrong place..

Why are Priests only allowed to remain in a parish for six years then they have to move or ask for another six years?

[/quote]

Good question! I've always wondered about this policy. It seems more of a practical, career-oriented policy, but not necessarily in the best interests of the faithful. How are we supposed to be a family if we get a new father every 6 years (or less)?


#10

[quote="babochka, post:9, topic:336775"]
Good question! I've always wondered about this policy. It seems more of a practical, career-oriented policy, but not necessarily in the best interests of the faithful. How are we supposed to be a family if we get a new father every 6 years (or less)?

[/quote]

Our former pastor said that one reason our diocese moves priests every so often is because priests are interchangeable and so the faithful don't get too attached to any one priest. Our former associate pastor and current pastor basically swapped parishes. When our former pastor finally agreed to be reassigned, it seemed like at least 100 families followed him to his new parish. I know of a couple of people at our parish who come from our current priest's old parish(es).

Also,could you imagine if one parish had to bear the burden of a priest who is a poor homilist, or a poor businessman/manager, too traditional/progressive, etc., for DECADES?


#11

[quote="Catholic_Wife, post:10, topic:336775"]

Our former pastor said that one reason our diocese moves priests every so often is because priests are interchangeable and so the faithful don't get too attached to any one priest. Our former associate pastor and current pastor basically swapped parishes. When our former pastor finally agreed to be reassigned, it seemed like at least 100 families followed him to his new parish. I know of a couple of people at our parish who come from our current priest's old parish(es).

Also,could you imagine if one parish had to bear the burden of a priest who is a poor homilist, or a poor businessman/manager, too traditional/progressive, etc., for DECADES?

[/quote]

But then, dear Catholic wife,could you possibly imagine having to change your husband every two or three years as we have had to do here in recent years with our pastors ?;)
Peace, Carlan


#12

[quote="OrganistRob, post:3, topic:336775"]
Same Pastor for 23 years and still going strong at my Parish...

[/quote]

cooo :D that a record. In the Church I go to admittedly Anglican am still wondering if our current priest will last his 5 year contract because we hardly had one for longer the a couple of year. Though like you guys priests can stay forever. I am more used to interregnum than life with a priest though this one quickly found a way for me to 'speak' with him and helped my faith grow the way it been needing for over 23 years....


#13

[quote="Cavaille-Coll, post:7, topic:336775"]

...
Technically, in Canon Law, a pastor is appointed to a parish for life, but in North America, this is quite uncommon.
...

[/quote]

This not quite correct:

Can. 522 A pastor must possess stability and therefore is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time. The diocesan bishop can appoint him only for a specific period if the conference of bishops has permitted this by a decree.

...

Can. 538 §1. A pastor ceases from office by removal or transfer carried out by the diocesan bishop according to the norm of law, by resignation made by the pastor himself for a just cause and accepted by the same bishop for validity, and by lapse of time if he had been appointed for a definite period according to the prescripts of particular law mentioned in ⇒ can. 522.

In the US, the USCCB as clearly permitted a specific period of time

Canon 522 - Stability of Office of Pastor

Complementary Norm: Individual ordinaries may appoint pastors to a six year term of office. The possibility of renewing this term is left to the discretion of the diocesan bishop. The primary provision of canon 522 that pastors may be appointed for an indefinite period of time remains in force.1

Approved: General Meeting, November 14, 1983

Reviewed: Holy See (Congregation for Bishops) as noted in Prot. No. 1887/84/6, May 16, 1984.

Promulgated: September 24, 1984

And pastors do have specific rights according to canon law. During their period of appointment, they cannot be arbitrary removed by their Bishop, it must be for cause if they do not want to be removed. We had a pastor moved about a year after receiving his 2nd 6-year appointment letter. The Bishop had to talk him into it.

I must say, I think it is a hold over from old-days in Europe that pastors are appointed for life, and I think it is a mistake in this day and age. I have been around long enough to see more than a few examples of pastors having a really difficult time after replacing someone who has been there 10-20 years.


#14

[quote="tafan, post:13, topic:336775"]

I must say, I think it is a hold over from old-days in Europe that pastors are appointed for life, and I think it is a mistake in this day and age. I have been around long enough to see more than a few examples of pastors having a really difficult time after replacing someone who has been there 10-20 years.

[/quote]

I understand this, and I definitely have experienced these transitions, including those that have been very difficult. The long-time pastor (20+ years) of one local parish died about 6 years ago. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful priest, but for a long time after his death, the parish bore his "stamp". It was somewhat difficult for the new pastor to walk in his footsteps, and thankfully the Bishop chose the perfect priest for the transition. He has recently retired, and a new pastor has taken his place. I recently visited and realized that this was no longer "Fr. ____'s parish" . I realize that these things don't always go well, however, and I've seen the other side, too That doesn't change the fact that this sort of turnover is less than ideal for the faithful, in terms of our relationship to the parish and to the priest. No, the parish is not about the priest, but the priest is not meant to be a mere administrator of sacraments and finances at the parish. He is meant to be our spiritual father, and it takes time to build a relationship of love and trust. There used to be a lot more stability among the people in a parish, as well, with multiple generations belonging to the same parish, for their whole lives. I think the church has typically envisioned a parish as a family, with the priest at the head, rather than the administrative unit that it is the current model.


#15

[quote="babochka, post:14, topic:336775"]
I understand this, and I definitely have experienced these transitions, including those that have been very difficult. The long-time pastor (20+ years) of one local parish died about 6 years ago. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful priest, but for a long time after his death, the parish bore his "stamp". It was somewhat difficult for the new pastor to walk in his footsteps, and thankfully the Bishop chose the perfect priest for the transition. He has recently retired, and a new pastor has taken his place. I recently visited and realized that this was no longer "Fr. ____'s parish" . I realize that these things don't always go well, however, and I've seen the other side, too That doesn't change the fact that this sort of turnover is less than ideal for the faithful, in terms of our relationship to the parish and to the priest. No, the parish is not about the priest, but the priest is not meant to be a mere administrator of sacraments and finances at the parish. He is meant to be our spiritual father, and it takes time to build a relationship of love and trust. There used to be a lot more stability among the people in a parish, as well, with multiple generations belonging to the same parish, for their whole lives. I think the church has typically envisioned a parish as a family, with the priest at the head, rather than the administrative unit that it is the current model.

[/quote]

I was going to say something similar, but you did it more delicately than I could have. :) Thank you. :) Indeed there is something to be said for the "old model" (Western & Eastern alike).


#16

[quote="Carlan, post:8, topic:336775"]
So many Dioceses in our Country are suffering from the lack of priests, I often wonder why the shortage can't be helped by recruiting more from the various orders.
My parish is in the bible belt, I have lived here for 13 years and we have had a turn over of six priests, the last one leaving just this past month for the special order of Carmelites.
I am not gettin it! Peace, Carlan

[/quote]

At face value it seems like a good idea to use regular priests to "staff" parishes. If there are priests in religious orders and a shortage in parishes then use the regular priests to staff the parishes.

This is not done because of the different charisms of religious orders. The priests in these orders have not been ordained for the diocese. They are ordianed to serve their order. They might have a contemplative charism like the Carthusian monks who live in enclosed monasteries and who don't serve parishes. Even in orders that have an active apostolate, the order's apostolate may not be parochial work. They may work on the missions, work with the homeless, work with prisoners, work in schools, etc. It is not for regular priests to be taken away from their orders to serve in parishes.

Another solution I've sometimes thought about is the number of priests who work in the diocesan curia. They are secular priests. They were ordained for the diocese. Does everyone of them fulfil a role that requires the office holder to be in sacred orders? Could some of them be taken from administrative roles in the curia and assigned to pastoral work in the parishes?


#17

[quote="Bergon, post:16, topic:336775"]
Another solution I've sometimes thought about is the number of priests who work in the diocesan curia. They are secular priests. They were ordained for the diocese. Does everyone of them fulfil a role that requires the office holder to be in sacred orders? Could some of them be taken from administrative roles in the curia and assigned to pastoral work in the parishes?

[/quote]

Sure they could be, but who would benefit? Whether one wants to believe it or not, not all diocesan priests are suited to full-time parish work. Yes, the administrative type mentioned, along with those priests who are full-time teachers, can (and very often do) serve as "weekend assistants" in parishes, to help with extra Masses, but to force someone who is not pastorally inclined into a pastoral position would be a disaster for the parish and for the priest himself.


#18

[quote="malphono, post:17, topic:336775"]
Sure they could be, but who would benefit? Whether one wants to believe it or not, not all diocesan priests are suited to full-time parish work. Yes, the administrative type mentioned, along with those priests who are full-time teachers, can (and very often do) serve as "weekend assistants" in parishes, to help with extra Masses, but to force someone who is not pastorally inclined into a pastoral position would be a disaster for the parish and for the priest himself.

[/quote]

It is very true that not all priests are suited to being pastors. Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions to the woeful shortage of priests. It would, though, be more appropriate if the need arises to appoint diocesan priests to parochial work. They were ordained for the diocese and it's the diocese's role to staff the parishes. It might not be the ideal solution. But, IMHO it should be diocesan priests who staff parishes. Unless it's their charism priests from orders shouldn't be taken away from their order's work to staff parishes.


#19

[quote="Bergon, post:18, topic:336775"]
It is very true that not all priests are suited to being pastors. Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions to the woeful shortage of priests. It would, though, be more appropriate if the need arises to appoint diocesan priests to parochial work. They were ordained for the diocese and it's the diocese's role to staff the parishes. It might not be the ideal solution. But, IMHO it should be diocesan priests who staff parishes. Unless it's their charism priests from orders shouldn't be taken away from their order's work to staff parishes.

[/quote]

There's really nothing wrong with a parish being in the charge of regulars, the post-conciliar term "charism" notwithstanding. The Order or Congregation is under no obligation to accept charge of any parish. If they do, they do. It's their collective decision. And if they later so decide, there are ways that they can abandon it.

My point, though, really is that it's not fair to either the parishioners or to the non-pastorally inclined diocesan clergy themselves, to force the latter into parochial service. Aside from the fact that the parishioners would likely feel neglected, that would essentially mean that a non-pastorally inclined man should not be ordained as a diocesan priest. Unfortunately, that also means forcing him into an Order or Congregation, and it's reasonable to assume that if he had an inclination in that direction, he would have pursued that avenue in the first place.

I'm only saying that drafting administrative and teaching priests to more than "weekend associate" parish work is not, IMO, a viable solution.


#20

[quote="malphono, post:19, topic:336775"]
There's really nothing wrong with a parish being in the charge of regulars, the post-conciliar term "charism" notwithstanding. The Order or Congregation is under no obligation to accept charge of any parish. If they do, they do. It's their collective decision. And if they later so decide, there are ways that they can abandon it.

My point, though, really is that it's not fair to either the parishioners or to the non-pastorally inclined diocesan clergy themselves, to force the latter into parochial service. Aside from the fact that the parishioners would likely feel neglected, that would essentially mean that a non-pastorally inclined man should not be ordained as a diocesan priest. Unfortunately, that also means forcing him into an Order or Congregation, and it's reasonable to assume that if he had an inclination in that direction, he would have pursued that avenue in the first place.

I'm only saying that drafting administrative and teaching priests to more than "weekend associate" parish work is not, IMO, a viable solution.

[/quote]

There are agreements between dioceses and religious communities. A number of parishes in my own diocese are served by priests from religious communities. It was a suggestion that regular priests be taken from their communities to serve in parishes that I asserted was ill advised. Unless, their community does this it would be as inappropriate to take regular priests from the work of their community to undertake parochial work as it might be to appoint curial priests to pastoral roles.


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