Temporary vs permanant priest?

Our priest that was at our parish for 11 years just left. Now we’re having different priests each week . Are they temporary priests ? Is there going to be “permanent” priest? How long does it take before they have a new permanent priest at our parish? How do they choose, and who does the choosing?

Don’t get me wrong, the priest who were there visiting was nice, but I don’t know if the constant change is really good for any parish…

The bishop of your diocese decides which priests to have at parishes. Usually the new assignments for priests will occur at the same time so priests will arrive at their new parishes around the same. If your priest left suddenly for unforeseen circumstances, it may be that the bishop is still deciding who to send. Lastly, it could also be that you have a priest shortage so there is no priest assigned there full time.

What do you mean again when you say " occurs at the same time"?

Our priest left because of new assignment. He didn’t do anything wrong. Which bishop decide? I live in the L.A. area so does it mean the L.A. bishop decides?

Does the parish pastor get a say which priests are a “perfect” fit for a parish?

It sounds like you do not currently have a pastor. Sometimes, the pastor can offer recommendations to the Archbishop or the Vicar for priests regarding his replacement. But the ultimate decision is Archbishop Gomez’.

The Archbishop may have someone in mind that is not yet available. While “rotations” are usually coordinated between parishes, some priest are out of the same cycle due to sabaticals, studies, or being “on loan” for a special project. Since the Archbishop of LA is new to his see, I would expect there are a lot of those special projects at this time. :slight_smile:

It could simply be that there isn’t currently enough priests to go around. The sad reality these days is that not every parish will have a pastor. Hopefully if this is the case, it will be temporary.

I am not sure what you mean by “a perfect fit” for a parish. I don’t believe there really is such a thing. Each priest has strengths and weaknesses. Some of the parishioners will be hoping for someone in the mold of your former pastor; others will be hoping for someone with new ideas.

They are “visiting” priests (though there are temporary assignments for priests also, they are usually called parish administrators). Usually assignments happen around the same time, (usually in the summer to help the priests who go to the parishes with schools). But retirements, illness, sabbatical, or special projects happen at all times, so maybe your priest was moved to a new parish because that parish lost their priest for some reason.

I will give an example. In my parish, we recently and suddenly lost our pastor, the bishop called him and let him have some input on his move, (meaning he asked if he would take a new assignment, but there is really not much option for saying no to your bishop). The bishop gave him a week to think it over and our priest was gone within 4 weeks. (We think we was moved to help save a struggling school, which he did for the school at our parish). So we got a parish administrator for 4-5 months to cover the gap while the bishop found someone to actually be the pastor. The parish administrator was not made the pastor because was a relatively new priest and ours is a big parish (there seems to be a bit of a pecking order when it comes to assignments). Luckily the bishop was able to swap priests with a cluster group. So our parish administrator became pastor of 2 small parishes and their priest became our new pastor (The bishop didn’t have to move anymore priests). :thumbsup:

Oh FYI: A priest is a priest forever and thus there is no such thing as a “temporary priest.” :wink:

both East & West, a pastor has certain rights under canon law–leading to the proliferation of administrators today.

Assignemrnt is generally permanent. the US is one of a couple of countries in which the RC bishops use a disgavored provision allowing Assignemrnt for a term rather than indefinitely (a Ukranian Catholic priest recently retired I his 90s after, iirc, 49 years in the same parish.


As others have stated, it is the bishop who makes the decisions about who will be assigned as pastor.

Since Archbishop Gomez is still relatively new we don’t know how he will go about assigning pastors to parishes. His predecessor’s policy was to chose someone who was a “good fit” for a parish and/or had skills that a particular parish might need overcome any problems. The potential pastor usually gets some say as to which parish will be the new assignment. The new priest would typically be named as parish administrator for about a year and if all was going well at that point then name him as pastor. It’s likely that Archbishop Gomez will follow a similar policy.

It is possible that the archbishop does not currently have have a potential new pastor available. A certain number of priests will become “available” in a given year. Assignments for pastors have been six years with a one time option to repeat. It has been my observation that pastors who are finishing a second term as pastor start “shopping” for their own new assignment when approaching the 11 year mark and sometimes take a new assignment at that time. Perhaps none of the priests who have finished their assignments are considered suitable for your parish. Maybe someone who would be a good fit is up for reassignment next year.

Another possibility is that there IS a priest who will be assigned and you have somehow missed the news. It is very common for priests to take their vacations during the summer and it has also been my experience that the new priest doesn’t really take over until Autumn. And yet another possibility is that some of the visiting priests are potential pastors and the archbishop is “trying them out”.

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