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Q from HS: Can priests choose their parish?

Another question from a high school student: Can priests choose their parish?

This question reflects not only on the nature of the priesthood, but also on the nature of the Church.  Ultimately, priests do not ‘choose’ their own assignments, but rather trust that God directs him where to go upon assignment by the Bishop.  In other words, we hear God’s voice when the Bishop asks us to do something.

This reflects the very nature of the priesthood, in union with the Bishop.  As a priest, I do not have authority on my own, but rather my authority comes from my connection with my bishop.  I work in his name.  Hence, he has the power to suspend my faculities if I am doing something against what he wishes me to do.  (In my case, at this time, I work for Archbishop Schnurr as Vocation Director.)

However, the process of assigning priests to various positions and appointments is not as whimsical as this sounds.  In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we go through two or three rounds of ‘open lists’ where parishes that are available for priests are circulated among all the priests.  We can either be nominated for a position, or even nominate ourselves for a position, to the priest personnel board, who makes recommendations to Archbishop about who should go where.  Usually, priests that are in the midst of an assignment are safe where they are, unless the needs of the diocese warrant a change in plans.

Often, when a priest knows his term is up (either after 6 or 12 years), he can request his top three positions and give reasons why he might want those particular parishes.  But ultimately, it is the Archbishop’s call as to who goes where.

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