Should diocesan priests live in community?


I understand some dioceses are already implementing this plan, while others are not. I am curious as to the pros and cons of diocesan priests living in a rectory and then serving different parishes and ministries. Do you think more men would discern the diocesan route if there was an aspect of communal life?


There are enough parish-based religious orders that live in a community that I don’t think it would affect priestly recruitment that much.


I’m not sure most of them would like it. In fact, that’s precisely why they choose it. My former pastor said he’d go nuts if he had to live with other men. WHen he had visitors he would make himself scarce. He couldn’t tolerate anyone else with an opinion.
But…I’m thinking (IMHO) that is would be GREAT for the spirituality of their parishes. The healthiest parishes around here are the ones with multiple priests.
This lone franchise thing is hard when it’s not a fit.
Just my 2 cents.


Really only a priest could answer that honestly because he is the one with the calling/vocation and he is the one who would have to live that way. I do think those who are called to the cloistered monastic life appreciate the aspects that way of life brings


Even Diocesan priests should live in community, if at all reasonable.

Yes, we have been in a period of poor vocations, but the ideal is really to have multiple priests at a parish.


We have three priests who live in the parish rectory next door to the church and school. They are all busy. I can’t imagine them having to travel to other parishes daily without a loss of effectiveness.


Some of them liked the idea of the quiet life. I know a few priests who specifically told me they could never deal with living in community. On the other hand, when I was discerning, I ruled out Diocesean life because I would hate to live alone. I come from a large family and I’m used to people being around all the time.

Personally I think that if a group of parish priests wanted to live like this with the blessing of their Bishop, they should be allowed, but not all do.


Back in the day, secular priests essentially realized community living right in their parish rectories. A pastor and 2, 3 or more curates plus senior (retired) priest(s) and possibly one or more living “in residence.” Now parishes are lucky if they have a single pastor or administrator.

My current pastor moved out of the parish rectory when a member of the parish transitioned into a care facility and gave/lent him her mansion.


I would think that for most secular priests living alone can have its pros and cons and would depend on the individual preference of the secular priest. Some may be used to and prefer to live in solitude while others may find the solitude overwhelming.

Living alone like anyone can be isolating which can increase the risk of mental health illnesses like depression.

I certainly fell that living in communities, that the knowledge of say three priests with the combined years of knowledge and wisdom (ie 6o years) may be supportive of less experienced priests.


I have to admit confusion by the original poster’s question. In all my years of being Catholic (Tiber Swim Team 1980), I have seen the multiple priests assigned to a large parish sharing a common rectory. The smaller parish on the other side of town had one priest, and he lived alone. In the same archdiocese, my catechist told his archbishop that he needed a smaller parish that didn’t have so much traffic because he couldn’t get any rest. He was assigned a parish out in the boonies where the two previous priests had left to marry. Among his converts included the wife and daughter of the Baptist minister across the street.

I’ve never been privy to a bishop’s decision/discernment process as to where to place his priests, but I think he usually does consult the individual priests as to where they’d like to go. I know our pastor at Holy Ghost in Knoxville, TN, refused to leave that parish and was there a record 35 years. The former pastor of the largest parish in the US in this diocese pressured the bishop to place a particular priest in that pastorship, due to his business experience.

That being said, I have never seen a cluster of priests in an isolated rectory, and their taking off to their parishes in the morning. I have, however, always seen the multiple priests for a parish share a rectory.

Now, if you’re referring to the Usus Antiquor (Ancient Use), which is what the Rule of St. Augustine is actually patterned after, then that could be a possibility that parish priests are being brought together for common prayer in a common rectory if they’re dealing with dispersion to isolated parishes. While the faithful would be inconvenienced, the priests would actually be safer, if that is a concern. And, I’ve never seen that before. Could you cite instances?

Mrs. Cloisters, OP
Lay Dominican


Thank you for your response.

I know in my home diocese (Philadelphia), there has been talk of combining parishes and either having one rectory that serves one merged parish (that used to be 3 or 4 other parishes) or have a rectory at one parish and have a handful of priests live there and then go out and serve their individual parishes.

As other answers have stated, it depends on the individual’s personality. I have always felt that it must be tough for anyone, priest or lay person, to live alone. But that’s just me. I know some people, including good and holy priests, who love solitude.

Seems like it’s a personal preference but I think it would be nice if there was an option for priests to remain diocesan yet live in a common rectory.


Sounds like the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is discerning resourcefulness. They suffer just as other dioceses suffer from a more secular society. Most of the money is in secularist hands right now.

Google Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport, PA. They are now a “worship space” for Sacred Heart down the street from them. One merged parish would probably include those “closed” parishes, with their being utilized as “worship spaces.” One rectory is cheaper than several. The old rectories would likely be repurposed or sold off.

A diocesan priest can live an eremitic life if he is drawn to it. Developing that hermitage within would assist him dealing with solitude in an isolated parish. Could also help him from going insane in a very busy parish.

A most interesting thread. Thank you for bringing this up.

Mrs. Cloisters, OP
Lay Dominican


We are blessed to have our two pastors emeriti (technically retired but still active in the parish), our current pastor, and a priest who works in the archdiocesan office downtown all living together in our rectory. The rectory they are using now was once the convent for our teaching sisters, who left years ago, so there is plenty of room for the four priests to have personal space, as well as camaraderie.


“I know our pastor at Holy Ghost in Knoxville, TN, refused to leave that parish and was there a record 35 years.”

I belonged to a moderately small Church where the priest stayed for over 30 years. It was a very rare thing around here. He witnessed my parents’ marriage , gave all of us 6 children the Sacraments, was always available when we needed him for dying/sick family members and he did feel like a member of our family to us and the same for many of the parishoners. He was a GREAT role model for all of us in that parish even though some did leave because he spoke the truth and spoke it bluntly. I am so VERY thankful for having that priest as my pastor until I married and moved to another town. His TRUE devotion to our Catholic Faith and his faithful service to the Church really had a hand in my deep devotion of the Catholic faith I know and love today and hope to do so until my dying day. Have had MANY different priests in my currant church since living here over 32 years.


When you say “live in community” what do you mean? Do you mean simply multi-priest rectories for Diocesan priests or do you mean Diocesan priests living together under a community rule? As Brother JR has reminded us here, the secular/diocesan priesthood and religious order priesthood are different vocations and the differences should be respected.

That being said, Diocesan priests do get a taste of community life. For example, while in seminary they generally pray the Liturgy of the Hours, take meals together and have a set schedule for their days. Also many dioceses have “priests groups” where the priests of the diocese meet together in small support groups.


You’re absoltuely right that the differences in vocation should be respected, even celebrated. I would argue that the diocesan priesthood was never intended to be a vocation where the priest lives by himself, but rather it is a due to the lack of priests in a given area as a result of modern times.

I would be in favor of diocesan priests living in a rectory together but not having a specific rule or order they follow. They do their own job and live by themselves but they happen to all be in a single rectory. If a priest did not want this option, he could be allowed to opt out, but if a secular priest wanted community but still felt called to the diocesan priesthood, he should have the option of community in the diocese.

Just my thoughts. Thank you for your response!


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