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Q from HS: Where do priests get their salary?

(Can you tell I’m cleaning out the inbox/desk today?)

Returning to a previous theme, there were a number of questions submitted during talks to high school students, I pick them up when I get the chance. Today’s submission:

‘Where do priests get their salary?’

This sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise, but as a diocesan priest, I do get a salary.  I own my car.  I have a checkbook.  I buy my own clothes, etc.  On the other hand, members of religious communities do not get their own salary, but everything goes into the kitty for the community where they live.  (Usually, they get something like an allowance, I guess.  I’ll ask some of the religious priests I know.)

A diocesan priest’s salary, at least in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is paid by the assignment which he currently holds.  So, for me, I am paid directly by the Archdiocese because I hold an assignment in the Central Office.  When I was teaching at Elder High School, the school paid my salary.  My classmates who are pastors are paid by the parishes where they work.

However, this is not to say that we are free to negotiate with the parish for a raise, extra bonuses, etc.  The level of our salary is set by the Archbishop, in consultation with the Presbyterial Council.  Raises and things like that are based on length of service, so all of my classmates and I make exactly the same, even though I work downtown, five are pastors, one is in college campus ministry, and one is in hospital work.  (Now, the bigger debate is who works the most hours….)

One final comment: we do get paid enough, in fact I think sometimes too much.  It is enough to have some hobbies and vacation times; but certainly not enough to raise a family or to live extravagantly.  We live simply, and try to find treasure that is not of this world.

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