Why do priests have to go to different parishes?


My priest is leaving soon and it breaks my heart :broken_heart: he’s been here for like 6 or 7 years I’ve really built a close bond with him he gave me my first communion he confirmed me and when he does the mass not only does he read the scripture but he explains it and really gets into the history every time I go to another church while I’m away I always find my self comparing other priest thinking “my priest is way better” because he’s the best priest ever he’s so good and holy why he can’t he stay I don’t think I’ll like the new priest as much tbh why cant priests just stay in there own parishes forever


Keep the pot stirring. Minimize factions within the diocese, and a practice of obedience.


Your diocese has determined that his talents will be best put to use elsewhere. That same decision was made when he was first assigned to your parish- it was believed that his talents would be best put to use in your parish. Now his talents have (hopefully) only been refined, and the diocese is moving him to a parish in more dire need of him.


It is the Catholic way. They don’t want you to get close to priests. Causes too many problems.


the practices vary from place to place, and especially in religious orders. Some parishes are more demanding and so priests are moved around for convenience, let’s say. Some priests stay put, sometimes, because they get settled in as they age.

I had two of those long-running pastors and their sermons tended to gravitate to a favorite theme,

One pastor used to complain about push-button conveniences (over and over). In fact he himself had a big car with a push-button automatic transmission. He indulged himself with convenience but perhaps expressed guilt about it. Perhaps he generalized and projected his experience and standard of living to everybody else, which was hardly justified.

This was also one of the few parishes where the rectory was directly connected to the church. He never had to step outdoors in any weather to get to church – another level of convenience.

on the other extreme, we know all too well how some sexual predator priests were transferred from place to place. Those transfers were undoubtedly a safety mechanism for those priests to escape to another unsuspecting parish.

We all shouldn’t make a particular priest into an idol, either.


Actually, the Catholic norm is permanent appointment, and the priest actually has some rights not to be removed without cause.

Canon law, though, provides that the national bishops can choose instead to have appointment for terms. The US is one of the minority where this option has been exercised (but the latin right, but not, afaik, by any of the eastern or oriental Catholic churches. A Ukrainian stepped down a couple of years ago in his mid 90s after something like 49 years at the same parish . . . he was baptizing grandchildren of those he baptized when young . . .)


Now that I think of it, I don’t know if this applies to associates, or just pastors.


For many of the very reasons you stated they are moved:
Maybe also in some cases for health reason like some Parishes may have associate Priests to help if the Priest is older or in ill health.

Not to get too comfortable in one place

Not to get too accustomed to being around one group of parishioners

They give up everything to be Priests so they are able to go from place to place out of obedience to their Bishop

I imagine the bishop knows more about each parish than we do and they try to put Priest for a little while here their talents are best used.

WE aren’t supposed to get “attached” to one Priest or compare them because we are supposed to be following Jesus

It helps the Priests to “learn” different “skills” by being in different Parishes (large-small, rural-city, different cultural asects in different places


In my experience, moving priests from parish to parish is the norm. I did have a pastor that stayed for decades at one parish, but at most they all always leave after a few years.
Policy aside, you cannot argue that in the USA, priests are constantly moved around.


NOW having said all I did the Priest I grew up with had been there in our Parish for 30 or so years. He had witnessed our parents marriage and gave all of us kids the Sacraments we received. He witnessed my marriage and my sisters too.


While there might be concerns in some diocese regarding “cults of personality”, I’d imagine there would be more restrictions on how priests interact with their parishioners if they weren’t supposed to get “too close”. I mean, once they’re there, there’s nothing stopping them from forming close bonds with many parishioners, and at a smaller parish, it’s probably going to happen with a good portion of the congregation. Doing so is even sort of implied in the title of “Father”.


The US norm is six year terms, with a possible single renewal.

Both the parish I grew up in and the parish up the street were founded by reasonably young priests who stayed as pastor to retirement, and then stuck arouad. Both were pains in their bishop’s–well, anyway, both were sent to the fringes (San Jose about 1960, east of Las Vegas about 1970) with no resources to get them out of their bishop’s hair.

Fr. Essig had been a paratrooper chaplain WWII who parachuted in with his flock. He built what might be the largest Catholic church between San Francisco and Los Angeles (certainly the largest in the San Jose area). When he retired, the regulations wouldn’t let him live in the rectory–so the men’s club built another apartment next to the rectory. :rofl::scream::crazy_face: He stayed active in the parish until his death.

Fr. Ben was a former union goon (I mean literally; the enforcers who broke kneecaps) and social worker before becoming a priest. Also a pain in the bishop’s . . . sent East of Las Vegas with no resources to start a parish.

Bing Crosby came across the parish, and hosted a fundraiser as he didn’t think a church should be meeting in a saloon :scream::thinking::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

To this day, there are a couple of surviving parishioners still miffed at that: Frank Sinatra cancelled the benefit he was going to do in response (celebrity egos :roll_eyes:)–and folks think that he would have bought more tickets himself than were sold for Crosby . . .

The church built was interesting: it was only along one wall of the large building, with a sliding wall. The altar actually faced the middle of the building, not the church area (which did indeed have wooden pews). The sliding walls allowed adjustment of seating areas (the main area, and including/excluding the classroom/meeting area along the outer walls), and was just pain brilliant.

It also helped that the kitchen was right there, and you could smell the bacon and syrup from KofC breakfasts by the end of Communion :rofl::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::scream:). BTW, one of our KofC main leaders was baptized in the saloon . . .

The Diocese of Reno, then Reno-Las Vegas, was split inn two, and the Bishop of Las Vegas harted the church design. The parish had been saving for a hall, and was told to build a new church and make the old building the hall (so t still has a chapel).




When I returned from several year away, it was all I could do to not break out laughing when I realized he’d pretty much built the same church, but without the walls–but all of the places where they hung from had rafters in the new building. I wonder if that bishop ever noticed . . .

He stayed around in a house his mother had purchased after he retired, and remained involved into his mid 90s. Even needing to be pushed up in his wheelchair and needing help to stand, he continued offering Mass regularly. His funeral had the largest KofC honor guard I’ve ever seen outside a convention (over 30 of us), and more priests concelebrating than I’d seen since year-opening liturgies at my Jesuit High School . . .and another couple dozen priests.

So even with the US rules on terms, long term assignment happens



Well, its the new Catholic norm. However, it used to be a priest baptized you confirmed you, and witnessed your marriage and then baptized your kids. I used to be at a parish like that. It was phenomenal. Now it seems with all the moving around it is hard for a priest to actually be a spiritual “father” at all.

I’m sure the reasons now range from priest shortages to protecting parishes that are close to each other from being at odds with attendance. Or even protecting priests and parishioners. But I just cringe a little with the moving around…


St Paul addressed this in one of his letters. The problem becomes that people stop thinking “this is Jesus’ church” and start thinking “this is Fr X’s church, or Fr Y’s church, or Fr Z’s church”.

It’s Jesus’ church… no matter which priest is there, or how well he preaches… :wink:


If a pastor’s parish is doing well (financially or otherwise) the pastor will stay unless there is some other reason to reassign him. That’s what I’ve been told, and that’s my experience as well, that the pastors who produce will stay and continue producing. If the pastor isn’t producing, they’re outta there.


The priest can also ask the bishop to be placed in a different parish or do some tasks in the diocese like teaching in schools, research and writing teaching material for some time and then be a pastor in a different parish.


To avoid a “cult of personality”.

Also, priests do asked to be moved at times.


The bishop undoubtably has other plans for this particular priest- an important opening which occurred that has to be covered and this is- in his opinion- the man for the job.

Priests leave the ministry because of death, illness, retirement and other problems, and that creates openings that have to be filled. I’m sure the bishop is doing the best he can under the circumstances


I know, right?
At my parish, pastors are moved every 12 years, and associates every 4 years, I’ve been told. Our pastor was moved the other month. I noticed how the transition of new pastor was a struggle for everybody. Old pastor was a favorite of mine, and my other favorite will probably be moved in 3 years.
It’s hard because I grew up in parishes where I never felt right, and these priests really become part of the family.


I can sympathize, Rosie—we are going through a change of priest as well. My current pastor is wonderful. He and I are tight and I’m sorry to see him go. However, here’s an opportunity to get to know a new priest and benefit from his particular priestly talents. Every priest is different and brings different qualities to the parishes they serve.

You’re sad, and I understand that. But rather than say “I don’t think I’ll like the new priest as much tbh,” why not give him a chance?

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