Why do good priests have to leave a parish after being there for so long?

Why can’t they stay in 1 parish permanantly? Am I being naive?selfish?

How to do say good bye to a priest that’s leaving the parish?


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Maybe the Bishop needs him somewhere else. maybe the Priest requested a transfer and the Bishop obliged. Maybe the Bishop has a policy of transferring Priests. Who knows?

Shake his hand, give him a hug, wish him the best in his future, ask him for his blessing and say until we meet again.

It could be just as hard on him as it is on you.

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In the Book of Acts, we see that Paul, Barnabas and others travelled about, frequently leaving their beloved brothers and sisters for the sake of building up the Body of Christ elsewhere. And so, Priests today are sent to different locations as well. It also avoids the cult of personality, which plagues many non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Churches. As much as we love them, and as sad as it is to see them go, it is good for them and for us to hear from a fresh voice every few years. As well, festering or chronic problems, as all parishes have, wear on the Priest.

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most diocese have some kind of limit and rotation of its priests. This prevent entrenchment and entitlement and keep both priests and parishes growing. I have seen where priests have changed and it went very well from one to another and I have seen where it went horribly.
At least where I am at, it is on a 6 year rotation with 6 more possible (12 year max). it is tough when you have a great priest and he has to go.

I know the bishop of our diocese recently put a 4 year limit on the time a priest could be at any one parish.

Around here it’s six years, then a possible six year extension, then possibly more years if you’re a friend of the bishop. Or I should say it WAS that way. Could have changed with the new bishop.

In my Upstate NY diocese, it’s six years for an assistant pastor (or what they’re called today, ‘parochial vicar’), and twelve years for a pastor.

I think this ‘term limits’ stuff began in the late 1960s. The priest who baptized me and my two sisters was an assistant pastor in my childhood parish at the very beginning of his priesthood. He automatically became pastor when the previous one either retired or died. He was there until the early to mid-1970s, then got transferred.

I know I’ve had my share of ‘bad timing’ when good priests got transferred right after I met them and went to them on a regular basis for confession / spiritual direction. Seems that every time I got to know one and he me, then he would get his transfer papers!

First time that happened, I even sat down and wrote out a letter of protest to the bishop! Fortunately, I did not send it-would have been pretty embarrassing…not to mention making me look stupid…:blush: :o I wrote it as a way of venting my anger…well, I was a ‘silly young girl’ [to quote St. Jeanne de Chantal] back then! Pretty dumb, too…:shrug:

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Or as in the case of a very good priest in my parish. There were a number of tragedies in his life, one of which, his mother had died. Knowing that another change would be very difficult for him, his bishop extended his time here for another six years.

I doubt if being a “friend of a bishop” happens very often if at all. A good bishop knows his priests and makes decisions based on what is best for all concerned.

I know what you mean. I think part of the reasoning is we should not turn to personalities as reasons for our faith. This is how mega-churches are often formed and they fade when the chrismatic leader is gone. We should not base our faith on a single person but on Christ.

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We are getting set to say goodbye to ours at the end of June. It is rather bittersweet–he gets to “go home” to his hometown adn live near his aging mother. The priest we are getting is “coming home” to our parish which was his home parish 40 years ago. Luckily, our current priest will only be 30-40 minutes away so every once and a while we can go hear a homily :slight_smile:

Because even the bess of priests can get burned out in the best of parishes, because not all parishes are the same size or have parish schools and priests need experience with various parishes, because sometimes for health reasons a priest may need a smaller parish with less demands, etc.,etc. Sometimes the parish may out grow the priest and his talents and capabilities, sometimes the priest outgrows the needs and wants of the parish.

I have experience growing up with a priest that was left at my childhood parish until I was well into adulthood. Although he formed personal friendships with many in his congregation, the parish also became stagnant. People grew to rest on the idea that things couldn’t change because it was just the way they always did things, nobody challenged the priest. He became more of a dictator than a leader/shepherd because he was a bit of a control freak. He liked the power. Not to say he may have been effective at some point in his assignment at our parish, but if he had been reassigned much earlier, maybe he would have learned to control his need to micro manage every parish detail. Reassigning a priest is just as good for the priest to grow in his vocation as it is for every parish that benefits from a new assignment.

An old joke that I heard says “If he’s a really good priest, then others should get a chance to have him. If he’s a bad priest then nobody should have to have him for too long”.

That is actually one of the reasons why I personally think that a priest should be moved every once in a while. Otherwise the parishes begin to reflect the personality of the priests a little too much, and the reality is that over time it gets very hard to replace a priest like that. Priests get old and die too (or even retire). It can be hard for a new priest to come into that situation when the parish has become so attached to their priest and the way he does things.

you said it well, that is exactly happen in our previous parish where the priest was there 12 years and everything and everyone became entrenched and enmeshed and when he was reassigned it did not go well.

Prior the 1960’s it was normal for a Priest to stay in one parish his entire life (after having finnished as a curate) and it is still the normal law of the Church, the current situation is is a result of the US Bishops petitioning (and recieving) the Vatican for an indult.

Our parochical vicars normally are only in one parish for 3 years during their early assignments. As others have said, moving a priest around helps them learn different aspects of their ministry. Usually the pastor is in one parish much longer 10-12 years or longer.

We are blessed in this diocese to have quite a few vocations, so most parishes have at least 2 priests. With the pastor staying but the associate moving it gives a parish both stability and freshness.

Parishioners shouldn’t get attached to any priest, IMO.

He may have talents that are needed elsewhere.

In my diocese, it seems to be that the pastor of the parish is quite permanent until he requests retirement or asks to be moved. In my parish, my former pastor was in the same position since the early 80s until he retired a few years ago. He was the only priest in the parish since that time. After the new pastor was introduced and officially put in place after a trial period, he brought in a second priest. I was very happy for the new change and love both priests equally.

At my former parish, the current pastor has been there over 10 years. He has had many parochial vicars come and go, but he remains.

It’s interesting to hear about the differences. :blush:

This is exactly what happened with our parish. The former pastor retired at 75 and he had been there for over 20 years as the only priest. As soon as the new (and younger) pastor came, parishioners got a culture shock because the former one grew stagnant and was set in his ways. The new one wanted to shake things up a bit. People are still getting used to his style. We have a project to build on to the Church and people are upset that things are constantly changing. I am NOT one of those people. I like change in the parish because we needed it. As much as I loved the former pastor since he was a family friend, I began to see flaws. He never spoke out against controversial topics like abortion because people would come up and flame him. He didn’t like that and I hated that the homilies were mostly the same.

I love everything about our current pastor. He has done SO much for our parish, including bringing in a second priest on the permission of the Bishop, bringing CRHP to our parish and making things bigger and brighter. I feel like my faith has grown so much in the time that he has been here because he teaches us things. He is a true representation of Christ and so is our parochial vicar. :thumbsup:

This is a timely topic for me–our terrific parish priest is leaving next month, after 6 years here. In our diocese, a priest stays about 6 years with the option of the bishop to have him stay 6 more. I sure wish he was able to stay longer. He really built up the church into a loving and vibrant community. Everyone is already missing him.

Because the Bishop moves them because he needs them elsewhere like they did to our dear Fr. Mark!!! :bighanky:

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